With Creators Updates Done, Microsoft Pushes App Updates

Posted on April 5, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Skype, Groove Music, Microsoft Movies & TV, Windows 10 with 14 Comments

With Creators Updates Done, Microsoft Pushes App Updates

The strange disconnect between how the core OS and its bundled apps are updated is one of the weirder aspects of the Windows 10 development cycle. And we’ve really seen that most obviously in recent weeks, where Microsoft has suddenly stepped up the improvements in those apps now that the Creators Update is complete.

Don’t misunderstand: Microsoft can and does update the apps it bundles in Windows 10 at any time. And it even issues major updates, with user experience changes, major new features, and other improvements, from time-to-time. But there’s always a flurry of app changes in the wake of a major Windows 10 version release. And I suspect that is tied to the fact that the versions of those apps that ship with the major Windows 10 version have higher stability and reliability bars to meet. After all, they’re part of that version of Windows.

But the Creators Update is done. And now that we’re in the “magic window” between that completion and the (public) start of the next major version, code-named “Redstone 3,” Microsoft is starting to churn out some pretty significant app updates. And if you’re a Windows Insider who’s already getting bored with the lack of new builds, these app updates are where the fact is now.

This week alone, we’ve seen some interesting changes.

Windows Store. While the Store app itself doesn’t seem like it’s changed much at first, it has actually gotten a pretty major update, with new download visuals (on both the the Downloads and Updates page and on content pages) that include a download speed indicator. The app also provides interactive notifications for those downloads, too, thus supporting a major new Creators Update feature for the first time.

Movies & TV. Microsoft previously unveiled a major new UI change for its Movies & TV app (which I think looks a bit too much like Apple Music). But this week the app was further updated with the first hints of the Project NEON user experience that I wrote about back in February. It’s a bit subtle, and basically amounts to more translucency and animation effects.

Groove. Microsoft’s music app hasn’t picked up the simpler new UI we see in Movies & TV (yet?) but ithas picked up the Project NEON-style subtle translucency and animation effects. You can see this most obviously in the collapsible hamburger menu on the left. But if you view an artist or other content, you’ll see the header animate to a smaller view when you scroll down as well. (That last effect arrived in an earlier update.)

Skype. The Skype Preview was ceremoniously renamed to Skype very late in the Creators Update development cycle in a clear indication that Microsoft believes this app is now ready for prime time. I don’t personally agree—I still rely on the Skype desktop app—but it’s certainly come a long way.

I’m sure there are more examples of these kinds of changes, and more changes coming soon too. But it’s nice to see Microsoft paying attention to these apps: The bundled apps in Windows 10 are mostly an embarrassment when what they should be is a showcase. And they can only get better, in my opinion.


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Comments (14)

14 responses to “With Creators Updates Done, Microsoft Pushes App Updates”

  1. Gavin Groom

    105.6 Mb/s *drool*

  2. mruszczyk

    I actually like the Skype UWP app. It meets all my needs at the moment but I only use Skype to communicate with my SO casually, and use the video chat to game with her at night.

  3. George Rae

    Nice to see Aero Glass being brought back. I liked it then, I like it now.

  4. BoItmanLives

    Now with Wmobile dead, UWA apps are pointless - certainly have no place on the desktop since they don't do anything better than good old Win32 programs.

    • Polycrastinator

      In reply to BoItmanLives:

      Display scaling and font rendering on HighDPI screens, since that's a conversation on another post. They do that better. I actually use the UWP Word on my Surface Book for precisely that reason. It just looks better, and my text editing needs are not particularly arduous, I don't miss most of the functions that aren't in there.

    • Chris_Kez

      In reply to BoItmanLives:

      Netflix app allows downloads. I might argue that Win32 is now in fact the "zombie" platform, at least on the consumer side. There have been few new breakthrough programs in the last decade, and the developers who make the most popular programs (e.g. Chrome, Firefox, iTunes, Adobe, Evernote, Slack, Office, VLC, etc.) are all focused on bringing these kinds of experiences to mobile or the web.

      • Mestiphal

        In reply to Chris_Kez:

        I have my computer permanently connected to my tv via HDMI as a second screen. I use it to watch movies and such of course. every time I open the Netflix app it loads on my monitor which has a lower resolution than the tv, it's an old Samsung I think it's like 900 or something, anyhow, every time I drag the app to the tv the resolutions is all jacked up, I have to then minimize the app and re-maximize it just to get to normal. In my opinion, too many steps for something that should be automatic.

        on the other hand, the win32 VLC program opens in the correct screen every time, and there are no resolution issues.

        I'm not saying win32 is better, I definitely like the fact that UWA can update automatically, I just don't think they are up to the point to be a valid replacement for old programs

        • peterh_oz

          In reply to Mestiphal:

          I do similar with the tv, but I have set it to use one or the other, not a second screen. If the TV is on (and switched to that HDMI input), it will always use that screen. If not, it will use the PC monitor. This works well, and avoids the resolution issue as well as the need to choose which screen for apps to open on.

  5. MikeGalos

    This is, of course, absolutely normal since the app teams now have a stable target build to test against. They'd be foolish to do a significant release against a rapidly changing target when a new release was weeks away. Any Program Manager who was even halfway competent would hold the release until the team had the final build then do a full test pass against that and ship when it passes.

  6. DWAnderson

    Any chance Photos will be updated? As Paul has noted, it is a real step down from Live Essentials Photo Gallery.

    BTW, I noticed that after the death of Windows Live Essentials in January 2017, even the offline installer (the 130MB version) no longer functions-- presumably because it calls a web service that is no longer active. That means I can't install Live Essentials Photo Gallery on any new machine.

  7. edboyhan

    Since the 24th of march on my release preview version of the creators update, the store has updated 23 apps. All but one (the save to pocket Edge extension) are Microsoft apps.

    Just nailing your point home, Paul (:grin)