Last week at Build 2017, Microsoft told us that this fourth major update to Windows 10 would be called the Fall Creators Update and they'd continue to bring more features and enhancements to the operating system. We are now almost six weeks into the development cycle of the next major Windows 10 update. We've got another 14 weeks or so before the Fall Creators Update drops in September.
Since April 7th, there have been a total of seven builds released to the Fall Creators Update fast track for Windows Insides. Here are the new features that have been added:
-- The ability to revert Virtual Machines
-- Power Throttling (after being tested in Redstone 2/Creators Update)
-- My People (after being removed in Redstone 2/Creators Update)
-- New Microsoft Edge PDF Reader features
-- Cortana Settings category in Windows Settings app
-- Windows Defender Application Guard added for Enterprise users
-- Story Remix
-- Volume Control per UWP app
-- Incoming phone call notifications from Android devices
-- New Context Menu icons on Start Menu items
So far in this current development cycle only one feature has been removed and that was the Note Quick Action button for the Windows 10 Action Center. According to Microsoft, that decision was made due to low usage of the feature. The removal of features always creates quite a stir.
Even if telemetry data shows the feature has low usage there are always going to be end users who were using it and they will be upset about its removal. That is when users come out and get on social media and feedback channels to ramp up the volume when it happens. However, unlike the letter writing campaign from fans that brought the original Star Trek series back to TV, these features are usually gone for good when they are pulled for low usage.
Goodbye, past features like Kids Corner and Apps Corner on Mobile, and Wi-Fi Sense on the PC and Mobile.
Of course, we have seen features tested that never made it into a released build yet including Messaging Everywhere, Power Throttling, and My People. Those last two are in current Fast Ring builds being tested by Windows Insiders and should make it to the final Fall Creators Update release later this year barring any unforeseen issues.
So let's talk about what current features might be at risk in Redstone 3 for removal and what options we would like to see make their way in the final build.
Note: These are all based on my opinions and perceptions plus various discussions I have had across multiple channels short of specific inside information or leaks from Microsoft.
FEATURES AT RISK OF REMOVAL
Virtual Desktops: I tweeted a very unscientific survey on Twitter earlier today and the initial results both surprise me and do not surprise me. Let me explain. Results so far show 75% either do not use virtual desktops or are unaware they exist, while the remaining 25% responded that they use the feature.
I am not sure how those numbers extrapolate out to over 500 million monthly active users, nor do I know what Microsoft considers for their low usage threshold. But if anyone in Microsoft wants to keep this feature, I do have a few recommendations that might beef up the usage:
- Allow users to setup and save the configuration of their Virtual Desktops with an option to launch them on system start up.
- If there are concerns about slowing down the start up process, then limit the number of pre-configured Virtual Desktops to optimize the balance between the convenience of a persistent Virtual Desktop and a quick startup.
Virtual Touchpad: While this is a great concept, and I am sure it's handy in some situations, I wonder how much it really gets used. It is only available on devices that support touch? Doesn't that make a virtual touchpad on the screen redundant?
FEATURES WE'D LIKE TO SEE RETURN
Messaging Everywhere: I think nearly everyone who used this feature last year before the Anniversary Update release would agree that it was a much better implementation of centralized messaging compared to what has been offered through its replacement on Skype. However, since the ability to see and respond to text messages through the Windows 10 Action Center from your mobile device does get the job done, Microsoft has likely moved beyond Messaging Everywhere.
Family Settings: Right now, you can see a settings page in the Windows Defender Security Center that has all of the options available but they link to the Microsoft Account webpage for updates and changes. Family Settings were right in the Windows 8/8.1 settings with no need to connect to the website for modifying anything. I know many users that would like to see that functionality baked right into Windows 10.
Centralized/Synched Notifications: We are overwhelmed with notifications from our collection of devices we use each day and I know Microsoft added features that would allow developers to take care of clearing notifications on other devices when they are read on any other device. However, not enough developers are taking advantage of this and also at fault are many Microsoft products and services. I opt to leave all of my desktops in Quiet Mode to avoid the repetitive notification sounds but I still have to manually clear the alerts to clean up the list in Action Center. It is now time for this to be a centralized process and with the new Windows device centric ecosystem that was discussed at Build 2017 maybe Cortana is the conduit for dealing with notification overload.
Windows Update Deferral on Windows 10 Home: I am not asking for the moon here and I also agree with mandatory updates for Windows 10 Home users - it makes for more secure systems and that is a huge benefit. However, I would like to see Home users get the same options for deferring routine system updates for seven days like Pro users can and then also give them a 3-4 month deferral for feature updates. When it comes to security related updates that period of deferment can be shortened to just three days and a mandatory check for and install of pending updates should be required before deferring updates once again.
Another variation on this request is the ability to defer driver updates for third party OEM hardware like video cards, cameras, and other peripheral devices to prevent issues with updated drivers that can impact performance. This is a regular issue for gamers who want to maximize their system hardware for maximum gaming impact.
Family Groove Music Subscription: Although this is not a Windows 10 feature per se, Groove Music is one of the first party apps that comes installed by default on Windows 10. If Microsoft wants this to be a viable alternative to services such as Spotify which will soon be available in the Windows Store as a UWP app, then they need a family pricing option for the subscription.
Are there any features you think are at risk for removal in Windows 10 Redstone 3 or something you would like to see implemented in the next major feature update? Tell me on twitter -- @winobs.