The Windows 10 Fall Creators Update was released earlier this week and is rolling out customers in a staged plan so that Microsoft can keep an eye on telemetry and user feedback to address any issues that might crop up with certain configurations of hardware.
If you have decided to wait for the update to arrive on your device, that is Microsoft's recommendation by the way, then you can catch up on some reading through our review to see many of the features and enhancements that are on the way.
Like many of you though, I have been using elements of this Fall Creators Update over the last six months while it was in development as Redstone 3 so the new features are pretty familiar.
Using that familiarity I wanted to highlight my top three things to make sure you check out/turn on in this latest update to Windows 10 once you get the update on your device.
1. OneDrive Files On-Demand
Ever since Microsoft pulled the very popular OneDrive Placeholders from Windows 10 back in 2015 there has been a hunger for that feature to return to the operating system. In fact, that desire equated played out on a OneDrive UserVoice entry that garnered more than 26K up votes and nearly 1,200 comments and it worked. After their return was confirmed in May of this year at Microsoft Build the countdown clock has been ticking and with the release of the Fall Creators Update this week they are almost back. I say almost because the feature is not automatically available after the upgrade and requires user interaction to accelerate the process for all except Windows 10 S users.
The interesting thing about the return of Placeholders as OneDrive Files On-Demand is that a user still needs to verify the files they need access to when offline are stored locally on their device. If you recall, that was one of the reasons giving for the removal Placeholders - confusion around whether files were stored locally or not.
Some of that confusion has been addressed using a three tiered system to indicate a files status under Files On-Demand:
By default, OneDrive manages the files that are locally available and Online Only based on your access and usage of those files. The algorithm should result in files you use often being available locally and the others being available online only. Any files you need to be always available can be selected by you anytime through the Context Menu when you right click on a OneDrive file/folder.
2. Include your Android or iOS Device in Your Windows 10 Computing Ecosystem
While the OneDrive Files On-Demand will be the popular feature of the Fall Creators Update, the one I think will have a greater impact on our overall computing experience is what will eventually become Windows Timeline but that feature did not make the cut. In the interim it is a collection of apps and settings on iOS, Android, and Windows 10 devices running the Fall Creators Update which will make it easier to continue web browsing activities between a mobile device and your Windows 10 desktop.
Cortana also gets into the act with her Pick up where you left off feature that helps you continue app and browsing activity. The Windows 10 Fall Creators Update now has a dedicated Phone Settings option in the Windows Settings app to help with this process.
Right now this cross platform ecosystem requires manual action to be effective but if Windows Timeline performs like Microsoft demoed it earlier this year then the process of accessing your files and activities across devices will be transparent.
3. Microsoft Edge
Microsoft's fledgling browser continues to play catch-up with its competitors such as FireFox and Chrome but it also continues to be tightly integrated into the operating system and not as a separate app.
That means major changes to Edge only occur alongside the release of a feature update to Windows 10.
Well in the Fall Creators Update, Microsoft Edge does benefit from six months worth of work both under the hood and in the UI. So it might be time to take another look and see if it can become your default browser.
Some of the visible features that have been added in this update include:
- Pinning Website Shortcuts to the Taskbar
- Improved Favorites Management (Edit URLS/Folder Hierarchy Access)
- Read Aloud for Webpages and PDF Files
- Markup for PDF and E-Books
- Manage website permissions for notifications and location services
- Full screen button to browse without UI chrome
- UI updates with Fluent Design and new button animations
- Microsoft Edge for iOS and Android will provide the ability to share links back to a Windows 10 PC
Under the hood enhancements for EdgeHTML 16:
- New CSS features Grid Layout, Object-Fit, and Object-Position
- Improved Microsoft Edge Dev Tools
- Payment Request API
- Service Worker Preview
- Motion Controllers in WebVR
According to Microsoft there are many other improvements in EdgeHTML 16 which can be viewed here.
One way that Microsoft can accelerate the development of Edge is to pull it out of the operating system and update it along the same lines that are used by the product teams on first party inbox apps. Between that and opening up the submission process for extensions to grow that collection faster it could make a big difference on the reliability and feature set of Edge.
Hopefully these things will happen during the development cycle of Redstone 4 - the expected Spring 2018 update that should come out around March of next year.
What are your favorite features in the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update?