The Windows 10 Creators Update will start rolling out to users on 11 April, Microsoft officially announced today.
The company warned that the rollout may take a little while to be pushed out to all devices, due to the fact that it has to manage deployment to over 400 million machines. However, the ISO image will be available to manually download and install immediately.
One of the most important enterprise features Creators Update introduces is the ability to switch a machine from BIOS to UEFI while upgrading in place from Windows 7.
Previously a major pain point for businesses looking to upgrade to Windows 10 from earlier versions, the process of switching from BIOS mode to the newer UEFI standard used to require wiping the machine and re-installing a fresh copy of Windows, which according to Microsoft has been putting some enterprise customers off making the switch.
A dedicated tool now means the entire process can be sequenced and managed with minimal fuss, assuming you have the relevant BIOS tool from the hardware OEM, .
Among the other features present are improvements to the Edge browser, including a new tab preview button. Clicking this will open a persistent drop-down with a preview of all of your tabs for easier navigation, similar to the preview thumbnails that pop up when you hover over the taskbar.
A more interesting addition to Edge, though, is the new ‘set aside’ functionality. This allows users to archive all of their open tabs with one button, immediately clearing up their browser. These tabs aren’t just gone, however; instead, they’re saved in a sidebar, grouped according to when you archived them, and waiting to be restored at a moment’s notice. You can even favourite or share an entire set of tabs at once.
Microsoft has beefed up Windows 10’s security too, adding Windows Defender Security Center, which provides a unified dashboard for the health and security of your computer for centralised management. For business users, Windows Defender’s Advanced Threat Protection has received some back-end enhancements. Enterprise customers also now have the ability to use Windows Hello’s biometric authentication with Active Directory.
Elsewhere, there’s big news for gamers, as Microsoft releases a slew of new features for PC players. The Windows 10 settings app now has an all-new gaming subsection, which contains tweaks designed to squeeze the most performance from your system. One of these is the new ‘game mode’, which concentrates system resources on your game and shuts down non-essential processes in order to help bump up the average framerate. Starting a livestream is also smoother and easier.
Elsewhere, there’s more minor changes, such as the inclusion of pen support for the Maps and Photo apps. Pictures and video can be directly annotated, and then shared via the new, improved and cleaner-looking sharing functionality. The integration with Maps is more impressive, though – draw a straight line between two points, and Maps will automatically plot the quickest route. You can even measure the length of a specific journey by tracing the route.
Although it will likely be of little value to enterprise customers, one new feature that has captured attention is the changes to the classic Microsoft Paint app. Now dubbed ‘Paint 3D’, it allows you to create basic 3D models and scenes with the same ease with which one would create 2D images in previous versions. These can then be exported to a 3D printer, or shared with friends.
Microsoft is also planning to integrate this with the Office suite, allowing users to bring 3D models into Powerpoint and animate them. However, no firm date has currently been announced for when this will be launched to customers.