The Windows Creators Update is something of a big deal for the operating system with over 400 million users, but the gist of it is taking aim at gamers and yes, creators. Paint 3D is very much what it sounds like, while the rest of Windows 10 has a unified approach with Ink (pen integration). Smaller but still powerful features, like the Game Mode aim to even optimize a PC’s gaming potential (though parts of that are up for debate).
On using Windows
Water is wet and most tech writers don’t use Windows as their main operating system. Personally, I use Windows systems for gaming, entertainment, coding and storage management while macOS is tasked with writing and editing. Yes, I am a geek.
Three pillars of the Creators Update: Pens, Gaming and Edge
Having a pen is having power
If you don’t have a pen or a touchscreen with a Windows machine, then this doesn’t apply to you — but nearly every new Windows machine actually worth buying either has a touchscreen, pen or both, so it just might.
Though, I’d say the cherry on top is 3D printing support, so your creations can actually reach the third dimension.
The Surface Book is Microsoft’s poster child for the platform, so it’s what I tested an Insider build (and eventually the RTM) version of the Creators update on. Windows Ink is a toolbar or set of features that is enabled system-wide. Use-case scenarios could be annotating photos or videos (via Photos app), taking screenshots and notes in the same window in Edge or Word.
A new app that might make pen users giddy is the new Paint 3D app. It’s a powerful creation tool, where I was able to create 3D objects or convert 2D objects into 3D ones. If you’re not adept at art, Microsoft links the app to Remix.com, an online commutation of 3D objects that can be downloaded, shared or edited. Though, I’d say the cherry on top is 3D printing support, so your creations can actually reach the third dimension.
MSFT really wants you to use Edge
So, here’s the thing: the replacement for Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, was in need of viability. You read a lot in a browser, so Microsoft thought it would be great to make Edge the default app for viewing PDFs and books.
The Store app has been updated with a Books for Windows Store category. Maybe you’re in the middle of a research project, you could Ink to take notes on something you were reading in Edge, with the next tab containing your other pages.
Another neat feature (and smart take on tab management), is the “set these tabs aside” option. Edge will take everything I’m viewing in a window, collapse it into a session and then save it so I can recall or preview some (or all) of my tabs. How useful this will turn out to be really depends on your browsing habits. Or, whether you even use Edge.
Tighter gaming integration with Xbox, Game Bar and Beam
Microsoft is staying committed to gaming, going as far as adding the Xbox icon to the Control Panel. This is actually a power play by the Xbox end of Microsoft, who now have control over the gaming portion of the operating system. From a software engineering model it makes sense, but gaming performance is a bit of a tricky subject.
Also, a new setting called “Game Mode” is here and it’s where things get complicated.
Basically, Game Mode is a switch which re-prioritizes whatever is running on your computer. For example, if a computer has eight cores, the mode will prioritize six of towards the game, thus not overworking all of the cores.
The remaining two cores would handle the rest of the processes. It sounds like a smart approach, for anyone who isn’t well-versed in using Task Manager, but the actual performance yield varies. Lower-end systems may see a greater benefit because of the lack of headroom via the RAM, processing and/or graphics. Higher-end systems wouldn’t see such drastic improvements, since they’re not usually gasping for system resources.
However, some users on r/LeagueofLegends have been finding Game Bar processes that are actively interfering with ping in-game, potentially making this a bug that would have to be addressed. When the Creators Update eventually rolls out to my desktop in April, I’ll be running benchmarks to test for those potential gains.
Will this really move Windows forward?
The Creators Update is bringing new features and bug fixes to Windows, that’s a given. But the features that lay underneath continue to pile up, so it makes you wonder when there’s too much going on. The purported Project Neon is one such attempt that Microsoft may follow through with, adding fluid animations and overall cleaning up the look of the OS.
How useful you find this update depends largely on your habits, but I’d argue there’s still something for you here no matter what: Night Light. It lets you change the color temperature of the screen so it’s easier to sleep at night. That’s useful.