Here are the Best Improvements in the Windows 10 Creators Update

Posted on April 16, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 37 Comments

Here are the Best Improvements in the Windows 10 Creators Update

The Windows 10 Creators Update certainly has its highs and lows. But let’s focus on the positive first: Here are the changes that matter the most, and to the most people.

1. Microsoft Edge

Sure, Microsoft Edge still misses the mark for far too many people: It’s missing mobile bookmark, passwords, and settings sync, it’s support for extensions has never matured into a healthy ecosystem of third-party offerings, and it lacks features as basic as a real full-screen mode. But let’s give Microsoft some credit: In each of the three major upgrades to Windows 10, the firm has markedly improved its new browser. And with the Creators Update, it’s more useful than ever, and it continues to offer unique features not found elsewhere.

You’ve probably seen the latest battery life tests, but if not, the story is simple: Microsoft Edge still offers a dramatic battery life advantage over competing browsers on Windows 10. That alone might be enough to put Edge over the top for users, especially those who travel or work on the go.

But I’m perhaps more interested in the new end user functionality in the Creators Update. Here, I’ll focus on the truly useful.

For example, Edge now offers incredible tab management features, including the ability to set tab groups aside and then access them later at any time, even after shutting down Edge or rebooting the PC. Edge also makes it easier to find exactly the tab you want, thanks to improved support for tab previews. And you can now share a tab—or, new to the Creators Update, an entire group of tabs—more easily than before.

Microsoft Edge offers a better reading experience, too. It already offered a dedicated Reading View for web articles that strips away ads and other clutter and offers a nice reading experience. But now it offers similar functionality for PDFs and EPUB documents, the latter of which works with unprotected files as well as those provided by an ill-advised e-book store that we shall discuss no further.

Also, it’s worth nothing that Edge is the only web browser that can play Netflix videos at true 4K resolutions. (That said, you could, of course, simply use the Netflix app to achieve this, and probably should.) Edge offers partial Flash blocking. And it includes smarter downloading capabilities.

If you are plotting a transition to Microsoft Edge, know that it’s easier than ever with the Creators Update: Previously, Microsoft offered only a way to import bookmarks from other browsers, but now you can import bookmarks, browsing history, and saved passwords to Edge, depending on which browser you were using previously.

2. Gaming

Gamers of a Microsoft bent are right to be excited about the improvements Microsoft is making across its Xbox-compatible platforms, which today include the Xbox One console and Windows 10 for PCs. Looking specifically at Windows 10, we can easily see that the Creators Update is the biggest leap forward yet.

The biggest improvement is a new feature called Game Mode that improves gaming performance dramatically, especially on lower-end PCs: All you have to do is click a checkbox to make it work. But Microsoft has worked a new Gaming interface into Settings as well, providing a central location for game-related customization. And there’s a great new version of the Xbox app, which supports new Windows 10 and Xbox Live features, including the ability to set a customer gamerpic.

Also of interest is new support for the Beam game broadcasting service. Now anyone can broadcast a Beam session at any time, and you don’t have to master recording hardware, software, or services to make it happen: It’s just built right in.

Finally, the Game Bar has been improved in this release, supporting new games, Game Mode and Beam, of course, but also simpler-than-ever screenshot and game clip recording and sharing.

3. Cortana

Like Microsoft Edge, Cortana—Microsoft’s digital personal assistant—has improved by leaps and bounds over the past year.

But unlike Edge, Cortana’s improvements work across platforms too—it works on iPhone, Android, Xbox One, and elsewhere—and for a service like this, such pervasive support is both required and ideal.

In a great example of cross-device support, Cortana can help you pick up where you left off. So you are working on Office documents or websites in Edge on your work computer and head home, Cortana will display quick links in Action Center on your home PC so you can get back to work there.

And speaking of differences with Edge, Cortana’s core functionality is improving all the time: It doesn’t need to wait for some future Windows 10 upgrade. A great example is reminders, which have gotten much more sophisticated over time.

Also, Cortana is now available in Windows 10 Setup, and on the lock screen, and there’s a new full-screen “Hey Cortana” experience that appears when you access this feature on an ideal PC.

4. Security

Microsoft doesn’t get enough credit for its single-minded focus on security, but it should. With the Creators Update, Windows 10 brings back a handy security and system health dashboard from the past—now called Windows Defender Security Center—and improves on it nicely, providing users with a true all-in-one solution for monitoring, and if needed, correcting—their security, PC health, and online safety.

Business customers will also benefit from services such as Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP), which was improved for the Creators Update, plus the Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection and Microsoft Intelligent Security Graph.

5. Fit and finish

Sometimes, it’s the little things. And while it is easy to be cynical about such improvements, Microsoft’s ongoing efforts to provide both consistency and elegance to the Windows 10 user experience are appreciated.

On that note, there are a ton of fit and finish improvements in the Creators Update, and Start and Settings have both gotten a lot of attention. (Be sure to check out the new custom color and themes support) But a few small features are worth pointing out too.

Your ability to control how and when updates are installed is better than before, though perhaps not the full control that some would prefer. But you should no longer experience the ugliness of a PC rebooting while you’re working, or waking up to a PC that shut down all your open apps while you were away.

Updates will now be delivered more efficiently, too: Future feature and cumulative updates will use differential technologies to reduce the required bandwidth.

For those with high-DPI screens, Windows 10 now provides per-app high-DPI configuration, so you should be able to get even old-fashioned desktop apps to look and work normally on your modern PC.

A new Mini-View feature provides Picture-In-Picture support to apps like Movies & TV and Skype, letting you access them in a small floating window while you do other things.

Night Light, like similar features on mobile OSes, lessens the display of blue light when its dark, easing the strain on your eyes and lessening the impact on your ability to sleep.

Also like mobile systems, Windows 10 can now free up disk space automatically as needed.By default, Windows 10 will delete unused files that have been in the Recycle Bin for 30 days, and there’s a new “Clean now” tool that will free up space on the fly, sort of like a very basic version of the legacy Disk Cleanup tool.

Action Center supports notification grouping, and notifications can be interactive. For example, Windows Store notifications will now display a download progress bar.

Power user and business features got some nice updates, too. The Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) provides a dramatic upgrade over the previous release. And Hyper-V sports a friendlier new Quick Create wizard.

Windows Hello is now dramatically faster. And more apps are pen-aware, including Maps and Photos.

Next up: The rest

Of course, the Windows 10 Creators Update isn’t all good news. Next, I’ll review the most over-hyped new features and the biggest disappointments in this release.


Join the discussion!


Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Comments (37)

37 responses to “Here are the Best Improvements in the Windows 10 Creators Update”

  1. donkey

    So, nothing to do with actual "creating" then? Or am I missing something?

  2. harmjr

    They removed the control panel link.

    Settings is an unfinished product!

  3. Travelrobert

    I like Edge and have so almost from day one. After extensions appeared so I got my beloved Lastpass, I'm all in. I have one work-related, poorly developed site forcing me to have Chrome installed, otherwise I'd be 100 % Edge.

  4. bharris

    As silly as this is going seem, I really like the new Night light feature. At least for me, the softer colors actually are more pleasing to me at night. Big new feature...No. But it is a nice touch that I use & like.

  5. will

    I like the idea of Edge, and have used it a lot, but this two release a year pattern is not enough. With so much still missing, and lot of room to innovate, they need to update it separately. I am disappointed this has not happened yet.

    Overall this update felt like stuff they still needed to improve from launch vs moving the bar. That is all good and ok, but let's improve how we use Windows.

  6. lordbaal1

    I can sync bookmark, passwords, and settings with my Windows phone real easily.

  7. Whiplash55

    I'm not a geek savvy as a lot of the commenters, but I don't get why they can't update Edge between builds. Explorer got updated between builds, and their competition is being updated constantly. Edge seems really fast and the battery life improvement is good so why wait 7 months to add a few features? Make it safe, fast and sandboxed and add some features and plugins, bribe/pay the developers make it work. Just sayin. Kind of happy it installed on my T440 without issues so far though so I can't complain.

  8. red.radar

    I missed something. What is this ill advised ebook store that Paul refers too? Amazon? Apple? Swedish bay of choice?

  9. wolters

    I can agree with all of this, especially how dramatically faster Windows Hello is and the Cortana Improvements. Since Windows Phone's demise, I had to go back to Android and I simply use Chrome now for the syncing across devices. If Edge was released for other platforms, I might consider it, especially for the smoother scrolling.

  10. Narg

    Didn't find anything about the "per-app high-DPI configuration" in your field guide Paul. Any clue as to when that will be there? Or, did I just miss it?

  11. Orin

    Very glad that Night Light is now built into the OS. All of my personal computers are Intel Atom based PCs. I previously used f.lux, but this noticeably taxed my computers. I was glad to update to the Creators update and uninstall f.lux. Once less program running in the background. Nice addition to Windows 10!

  12. yaddamaster

    Did anyone notice that the Dolby app went missing in the final Creator's build? At least, i think it did. It was there a few weeks ago and now it's gone.

  13. JerryH

    For security related updates, don't forget the service separation detailed here: (search for "service hosts" in the article).

  14. Athena Azuraea

    Edge is still terrible compared to a real browser (e.g. Chome, Firefox, ...).

    Cortana is still pretty much useless for anyone outside US.

    Game Mode doesn't really improve much except for those who have low-end computers, so for those of us who want that 60+ fps, it really doesn't do anything.

    Security is always nice, but that's a given with any update, so no really a "feature" if you ask me.

    The rest is just as poor. They continue to chip away at the control panel and replace it with their dumbed down, hard to navigate, incredibly dull Settings app. There are a few good things in there, like reduced bandwidth, but that's really all there is to it. How long did it take for them to push out this disappointing update again?

  15. Tony Barrett

    For the vast majority who don't game, don't use Edge, don't use Cortana (ie, anyone with a brain who values their privacy), the Creators update will appear very, very mundane, and only one actual new app - Paint 3D, which in itself is at best a brief curiosity will make it look any different.

    I'm sure MS are very pleased with their 'Creators' update. For everyone else - move along now, nothing to see here.

    • BoItmanLives

      In reply to Tony Barrett:

      They created a substandard, crash prone (still freezes far too often when opening new tab) browser that only works on one version of one operating system, and they wonder why nobody's using it except to download Chrome.

      • Oubadah

        In reply to BoItmanLives:

        I've never used it long enough to see whether it's actually unstable. It's just missing too many little things that I take for granted in Chrome, like right-click Google searches.

  16. Oubadah

    If Microsoft cares so much about gaming, why don't they fix Windows 10 so that it doesn't force legacy DX8 titles into borderless windowed mode (and thereby breaking V-Sync etc.). Correct me if I'm wrong, but early pre-release betas of Windows 10 let DX8 games run in true fullscreen mode just fine, so why did they break it? I suspect it was something like: they couldn't get their worthless overlay to work with DX8, so instead of fixing it properly or disabling the overlay, they elected to cripple the game instead (much like Valve's approach to Crysis when their overlay wouldn't work with the game in 64bit mode - too lazy to fix it, so they just removed the 64bit exe).

    • BoItmanLives

      In reply to Oubadah:

      They don't care about PC gaming. When you look past the marketing smoke and mirrors, all they're doing is trying to create value adds for Xbox owners.

      • skane2600

        In reply to BoItmanLives:

        And Xbox didn't need to become part of the "one windows" approach to add new features anyway. The more device types covered by Windows, the more compromised it becomes. Unfortunately many of the compromises are to the determent of MS's core users.

  17. Lars lalaa

    looks like he's watching the Nokia 800 or 920 event and remembers the good old days.

  18. Delmont

    How do you find the "Clean now" tool? thx

  19. BoItmanLives

    This reads like a MS sponsored article, no offense I realize the bills have to get paid but it's a stretch to call most of those "new features" - just more bloat and me-too features that don't measure up to entrenched leaders.

    And until MS addresses the lack of telemetry opt-out and gives full control over updates, 10 is going to remain stalled at 25% as its been since December.

  20. Jules Wombat

    "Like Microsoft Edge, Cortana—Microsoft’s digital personal assistant—has improved by leaps and bounds over the past year."  Are you being serious here.  Little to no improvement outside the US for Windows users, and nothing of note in this weak 'Creators Update'.

    Cortana remains a sad joke.

    • Lewk

      In reply to Jules Wombat:

      Yeah, I read that too and was taken aback. Cortana here in Australia has even lost features it used to have. I can no longer track flights, and things you used to be able to ask her and she'd answer are now just Bing searches. Also speech recognition has dropped severely, she barely understands me now, where as in earlier versions she understood all my dialog. Microsoft is seriously dropping the ball on Cortana, big time.

  21. YouWereWarned

    I've been stifling a yawn since the Studio announcement. I now have reason to let'r rip...

    This would be fine if basic things like the crasher, er, uh, browser worked. Or the intrusive misspeller. Or syncing. Or mail clients. The list is endless, yet somebody decided it's time for more half-baked features nobody asked for.

    3D Paint? Really?