Microsoft Announces the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update

Posted on May 11, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 31 Comments

Microsoft Announces the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update

This morning, Microsoft announced the Windows 10 Fall Creators Updates, which will bring several major new features to the software giant’s flagship platform for PCs. Key among them are integration solutions that work with the mobile devices its customers really use.

Note: This information is based on a briefing Microsoft provided press and bloggers ahead of the public announcement during the Build 2017 day two keynote address. And that a few surprises were held back, so there will be more to say later in the day.

Here’s what we know about the Fall Creators Update so far.

Naming. Yes, it’s a terrible name, but like all terrible things, we’ll just get used to it. My take on this is that Microsoft is doubling down a concept—creators and creativity—that it did not fulfill in the previous Windows 10 release, and that this release will be a more fully-formed implementation of that original vision, such as it was.

Timing. Despite recently announcing that it would ship Windows 10 versions in March and September every year, Microsoft seemed reticent to commit to a September release for the Fall Creators Update. That is the goal, but the final release will be quality-based, we were told. So September it is.

A new creative app. In a pointlessly secretive move, Microsoft revealed that it would include a new creative app in the Fall Creators Update but never described it. Fortunately, an early peek at a Microsoft blog post provides a description but not a name: “(This new creative app) transforms your photos and videos. (It) automatically brings your memories, or even your friends’ photos and videos together to create stories with a soundtrack, theme, and cinematic transitions. You can also create mixed reality by adding 3D objects to your photos and videos to tell stories in a whole new way, or turn your photos and videos into your canvas, drawing on them with Windows Ink.” So it’s not the Movie Maker replacement that everyone wants, but something closer to Apple’s Clips.

Microsoft Fluent Design System. Project NEON, a modern update to Microsoft’s previous design language, called Metro, is being branded as Microsoft Fluent Design System. Described as “a journey” and “not a revolution” in terms of a new direction, Fluent is something that will appear over time, and not all at once, and it will not be fully realized in the Fall Creators Update. (In fact, as we’ve seen, it’s already been implemented in some apps in Windows 10 today.) So what’s the point? “Fluent Design will deliver intuitive, harmonious, responsive and inclusive cross-device experiences and interactions,” Microsoft claims. “Fluent Design is built to help developers create more expressive and engaging apps that work across a wide range of device and input diversity.” That last bit is the most important change from Metro, as Fluent address both different kinds of devices and the diverse input types that exist today across those device types.

Cross-device experiences. This is, I think, the most interesting and exciting area of work in the Fall Creators Update, and as such I will be writing about it separately today. But the short version is that Microsoft has moved well beyond the “Windows only” and “Windows first” strategies of the best and embracing the reality that most Windows users will use a lot of non-Microsoft devices. And that the only way Windows can survive in this world is if Windows can somehow make those other devices better. The result is a set of features—Timeline, Pick Up Where You Left Off, Clipboard, and OneDrive Files on Demand—that each “connects the dots” between PCs and devices.

Timeline. A replacement for Task View, Timeline lets you visually “jump back in time” to find what you were working on earlier. It’s described as a visual timeline that displays files, apps, and websites you were working on. It’s sort of a combination of Task View and the time-based navigation in File History.

Pick Up Where You Left Off. Using Cortana, you can (literally) pick up where you left off across compatible devices (Windows 10, Android, iOS). “Imagine logging off your PC and having the document you were editing pop up on your phone,” Microsoft explains. “Cortana asks if you want to pick up where you left in your app, document or website. It’s like having your PC and your phone finish each other’s sentences.”

Clipboard. Using the SwiftKey keyboard, you can copy and paste on any compatible device (Windows 10, Android, iOS) and then paste the clip on another device. “Just hit copy on what you want to grab; your photo, map link, paragraph, even an animated gif; and it is ready to paste into whatever you want, whether you’re on a Windows PC or your favorite mobile phone.”

OneDrive Files on Demand. Microsoft’s long-awaited replacement for placeholders is missing just one thing: Placeholders. This is a big enough deal that I’m writing about it separately, but the short version is that a new Files on Demand feature in OneDrive (for consumers and businesses) will allow you to access all of your cloud-based files from File Explorer in Windows 10 … assuming you have an Internet connection. But when you’re offline, you can’t see anything you haven’t synced. So it’s a replacement for placeholders, yes, but it doesn’t completely duplicate the original placeholders functionality. (That said, there are other improvements, too.)

Windows Store. While I was hoping for a lot of good news for the struggling Windows Store, Microsoft is instead offering a rather tepid argument that everything is just fine. “Windows Store is a great place for developers,” we were told, and Microsoft highlighted two new apps—SAP Digital Boardroom and AutoDesk Stingray—as proof. A few more app announcements are expected in the keynote, but there’s not a lot of there there, if you will.

Windows Subsystem for Linux. Building on the Beta support for Bash on Ubuntu for Windows in the current versions of Windows 10, the Fall Creators Update will bring SUSE Linux and Fedora Linux into the fold. These solutions will be distributed via the Windows Store, too.

Mixed reality. By the time the Fall Creators Update ships in September, Microsoft’s hardware partners will finally be ready to ship Windows Mixed Reality headsets and motion controllers (and bundles) to consumers. These solutions are basically VR with built-in marker/sensor technology, meaning that they are standalone and you won’t need to install sensors in the room you’ll be using. Acer, for example, will sell both a $300 headset and a $400 bundle that also includes a motion controller.

More soon.


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Comments (31)

31 responses to “Microsoft Announces the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update”

  1. JerryH

    Way to go Microsoft! Name a product for a season - which is different in, oh, I don't know, perhaps in Australia and New Zealand. Perhaps it is the Spring Creators Update down under? Typical inexperienced idiot in Marketing and then a bunch of executives who don't have enough critical thinking to go back to Marketing and tell them to fix it.

  2. irfaanwahid

    As you wrote, "By the time the Fall Creators Update ships in September, Microsoft’s hardware partners will finally be ready to ship Windows Mixed Reality headsets and motion controllers (and bundles) to consumers."

    Why didn't Windows team push this MR framework into RS3 and instead worked on another feature like MyPeople in RS2 or any other, Project Neon....?

    Having MR right now in Creators Update is such a waste currently for consumers, instead we could have played around with some other feature.

  3. Lewk

    "Using the SwiftKey keyboard, you can copy and paste on any compatible device (Windows 10, Android, iOS)"

    Wait, does this mean Windows 10 is getting swiftkey??

  4. Shel Dyck

    groove music maker flashed by in the opening video clip again.

  5. Greg Green

    How does someone who doesn't read MS press release know the difference between an update, which patches and fixes problems, and an upgrade, which changes the core OS?

    I'm thinking I need to figure this out somehow to do additional backups on the family PCs before an upgrade in case the upgrade breaks something. Also these upgrades seem to take an hour or two, so I need to do planning for that.

    is there something in the update window that will give a hint?

  6. MikeGalos

    The "new creative app" is called Story Remix. It was demoed with that name and it's mentioned on the "Coming to Windows 10" site.

    As for it being a replacement for Movie Maker, I'd say it's all that Movie Maker was and more with things like object recognition and binding for CGI in post production.

  7. Andrey Medvedev

    What a great name: Fail, Downfall, Fall from grace, I've fallen and I can't get up...

  8. michael

    Perhaps the new Clipboard experience will include an animated Cortana extension that can smartly identify what your working on and offer suggestions...

  9. Waethorn

    "Fluent" was one of the names they used for the Office Ribbon.

    Good job, reusing names like that, Microsoft.

  10. Waethorn

    What's wrong with just "Windows v1710"???

  11. karlinhigh

    "I was hoping for a lot of good news for the struggling Windows Store"

    Maybe something like a move away from movie-poster-like mobile app stores, and towards a sort-and-filter plaintext list of programs like a software repository?

    I have learned to regard things like Debian APT more highly than mobile app stores. When a tech support client wants the Facebook app, and searches on App Stores bring up dozens of knockoffs instead of the app published by Facebook Inc, I can't help but think that the goal of App Stores is to make users do what software makers want instead of vice versa.

  12. MutualCore

    UWP is dead, baby dead!

  13. Simard57

    Is Clipboard what used to be called OneClip? seems odd to tie to Swiftkey?

  14. PeteB

    Still no Telemetry opt-out and better control over updates. Guess I'll be sticking with 8.1 + ClassicShell.

  15. glenn8878

    Fluent seems promising. I hope it solves the problem of apps and Win32 applications that don't scale well on small tablets. Will they finally integrate Control Panel into Settings? Will File Explorer work better on a touch tablet? Can they make the Start Menu and Desktop into One interface? Someday they will fix it.

  16. Spineless

    Does this mean that SwiftKey will be coming to Windows? If so, it's about time Windows got a new touch keyboard. Lack of WordFlow, let alone custom keyboards, has been a glaring omission since the initial release.

  17. alanblip

    Microsoft generally take 3 or 4 releases to get something right. I expect to see a release with features actually useful to creators when they get to Windows 10 Creators Update 3.11 for Workgroups.

  18. Tomasz Sowinski

    Why didn't they name it Creators Update New Technology? Oh wait..

  19. samdegroff

    The irony is perfect. You can't get any less creative with the name, ha.

  20. Steve Martin

    If Timeline would mean I could save windows associated with a desktop in some way, so I could just start up with those apps in the appropriate spaces after each boot, then it's potentially good. Task View is great, I don't much need a history of my spaces. Just the ability to associate specific Apps with specific spaces.