Last October, Microsoft revealed their planned yearly update to Windows 10 for 2017. Dubbed the Creators Update, it’s a continuation of Microsoft’s new commitment to Windows 10 as an ongoing platform instead of simply the latest in a line of operating systems.
Today, Microsoft is announcing that the Creators Update will become available on April 11, but not for everyone — it’ll be a phased rollout that could take weeks or months. The good news is that, like with all Windows 10 updates, it’s free. So, what are you getting for free this year? As the name indicates, it’s a treasure trove for artists and entertainers.
In October, Microsoft emphasized the 3D artist tools that were coming in the Creators Update. One of the new tools is Paint 3D — a new dimension for Microsoft’s longtime basic art program. While Paint isn’t exactly the go-to program for the artist set, it’s always been fun to play around with, and Paint 3D figures to be no different. The program will simplify the creation of 3D objects, which can then be shared with the community on Remix3D.com.
Microsoft is also prepping for the release of a bunch of mixed reality headsets from the likes of Lenovo, HP, Dell, Acer, and Asus. We got a chance to see Lenovo’s at CES this year — it’s a simple virtual reality headset, not as sophisticated as something like the HTC Vive, but with cameras on the front of the headset to enable augmented reality. VR and AR can even be merged by some apps, creating an immersive overlay on top of actual reality (in case it was too boring for your tastes).
Last year, Microsoft also talked about their plans for Beam, the streaming service the acquired some time ago. This is going to be big for streamers — Microsoft is turning Beam into a system app that gamers can use to stream their gameplay while easily being able to interact with their viewers over chat. Also on the gaming front, parents will get new controls over the Xbox One, including the ability to set time limits. For adults, this means you may now be able to find a game where you won’t be stomped by a team of 12-year-olds.
Microsoft’s Edge browser is also getting some tweaks. Microsoft is desperately trying to get Edge to catch on, but at least this time the main obstacle is user habits instead of a bad product — Edge really does tend to be more battery efficient than Chrome or Firefox. New in the Creators Update is a revamped tab management system — you can now store tabs in a separate pane that can be pulled down from the top left corner, all without switching away from your current tab. It’s a minor but pretty cool usability tweak. Apparently, Microsoft has also managed to get themselves exclusive browser rights to streaming Netflix in 4k resolution, which is a pretty big deal if you have a 4k monitor.
Speaking of Netflix, Windows 10 is also getting picture-in-picture! We heard about this feature in February, and it got us all kinds of excited. Instead of having to snap the Netflix app into a pane, you can keep a video running in a small window that will remain active, even when you’re working on something else. The binge never needs to end.
Like what many mobile devices now have, Windows 10 will get a night light mode, which screens out blue light from the LED backlight of your monitor. Like always, it’ll leave your picture with a yellowish tint, so it’s not going to be great to use with those sweet new Netflix-related features. But, it’ll be great for Books in Windows Store, a new eBook store from Microsoft. Books purchased can be read within Microsoft Edge, and progress can be saved across devices.
Windows Defender will start to look more like the other anti-virus programs out there, getting a design overhaul that makes it easier to scan a computer for viruses, malware, and the like, while managing your firewall. For enterprise customers, Microsoft has new tools just for the IT staff, to better help them monitor company devices.
There will surely be several more changes to discover when the update hits. Your first chance will be on April 11, but there’s no telling exactly what date you’ll receive the update on your Windows 10 devices.