Microsoft has released the new Fall Creators Update, the latest in major upgrades for Windows 10. Many of the additions this time around are fairly small; the company’s twice-yearly cadence for features requires frequent small updates as opposed to major changes. Still, there are some improvements and new capabilities worth discussing.
First of all, Windows 10 now supports mixed reality, which is the company’s combined name for augmented reality and virtual reality. It’s not a great word for marketing–“mixed reality” doesn’t really convey the nature of the platform, because it doesn’t define what’s being mixed–but it’s what Microsoft and some other vendors are running with.
There are a range of mixed reality solutions from Samsung, Acer, Dell, and HP. We’d wait for a multi-headset comparison between Oculus and the HTC Vive before leaping on board. VR is still in its early days, so it’s not clear how much support we’ll see for it in the future, but Microsoft is putting an emphasis on rolling out platform support. There’s also a new mixed reality viewer option; it uses your PC’s camera and can overlay augmented reality options, assuming you have a PC 2-in-1 or tablet with a rear-facing camera.
Edge also gets a major set of updates in Windows 10 FCU. The new version of the browser can annotate books, import bookmarks from Chrome, pin websites to the taskbar, edit favorite URLs, and supports a fullscreen F11 mode. This will undoubtedly make the relative handful of people using Edge very happy. Will it help Windows win any market share for its browser? I wouldn’t bet on it.
OneDrive placeholder files are now back, arguably making the service much more seamless and useful. In the past, Microsoft offered placeholder files in OneDrive that would only download when you clicked on them. This was a useful way to make data available on storage devices without hiding it in a separate application, and we’re glad to see Microsoft re-adding the feature.
Other noteworthy additions include “Find My Pen,” a downright creepy spyware capability that allows Microsoft to tell you where you were the last time you used your pen. This may be genuinely useful to a small number of people, and utterly useless to the majority (and by majority, I mean the majority of people with Surface Pens in the first place). If the last place you used your pen was your own home, good luck finding it. But it’s nice for Microsoft to make it so apparent that it tracks the location of your devices and monitors your usage of peripherals. For troubleshooting, natch.
In addition, the calculator now includes a currency converter, you can recover PINs and passwords from the lock screen, dictation and image descriptions are now available via a new Dictation option, eye control and additional GPU performance data can be monitored (we’ve previously covered this), and Game Mode is now integrated.
Amusingly, Windows 10 still refuses to offer me the Creators Update on my own PC, for reasons I’ve never managed to diagnose. But I figure I’ll be upgrading my personal rig in the not-too-distant-future. The GPU monitoring and other low-level changes are appealing, but Microsoft has packed in enough features that most folks should find an update or tweak that improves the overall OS. Instructions on how to manually install the Fall Creators Update are here.