Microsoft has been testing its latest Windows 10 Creators Update in recent months, and it’s now ready to roll out to existing machines. While the previous Anniversary Update included more significant features, the Creators Update includes some small and welcome additions. I believe these are the true top 10 features coming to Windows 10 — not the snazziest, but the ones that might actually make Windows work better when you’re trying to get work done. As neither a visual artist nor a VR early adopter, these are the changes I’m most excited about.
01. Night Light
Staring at an unnaturally blue screen at night can shift your body’s natural clock and make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. Your phone likely has a way to switch to warmer colors at night, and Windows soon will, too. In Creators Update, there’s a setting to lower the blue light of your PC. Head to Settings > System > Display > Night light settings. You can schedule it to come on at sunset or manually set hours. You’ll also find a new Night light button in the Action Center to toggle the setting on and off. It’s much like what’s already available on iOS, macOS, and Android, but at least you don’t need a third-party app to enable this on Windows anymore.
02. Cortana setup
If you clean install Windows 10 Creators Update or purchase a new PC with genuine Windows 10 preinstalled, then you will notice Cortana shows up to guide you through the setup process. Contana Will use your speakers and microphone to listen commands, including setting up a Wifi-network and keyboard layout. The entire process of setting up Windows 10 has been greatly simplified, especially if you compare it to how long and complicated it took to get a Windows Vista machine ready just 10 years ago.
03. Dynamic Lock
Getting up for a meeting or in search of a donut? Windows can automatically lock your PC as soon as a paired Bluetooth phone is out of range. Dynamic Lock is a new Windows 10 feature that’s designed to be the opposite of Windows Hello. Known internally at Microsoft as “Windows Goodbye,” Dynamic Lock lets you automatically lock a Windows 10 PC when you’re away from it. You can pair Bluetooth devices like a phone or wearable, and Windows 10 will sense once the Bluetooth connection is too far away and lock the PC.
04. Microsoft Edge
Microsoft’s Edge browser offers an expandable bar that shows a thumbnail for all of your open tabs. This new feature lets you set tabs aside and save them for use later on. It’s essentially a method to save a snapshot of your current browser window. If you’re a heavy user of tabs then it’s a welcome feature, but for everyone else the new buttons that enable the feature are likely to be confusing.
05. High DPI support
It’s a bummer to upgrade to a 4K display only to find some of your apps look blurry, because the developer has yet to update them to run on a screen with so many pixels. Creators Update adds a way for you to override DPI settings so individual apps can scale properly (read: crisply) on high-resolution displays. Here’s how:
Right-click on the app and choose Properties. Click on the Compatibility tab and check the box for Override high DPI scaling behavior and then choose System (Enhanced) from the pull-down menu.
06. Smarter Settings layout
If you head to the Bluetooth page in Windows 10’s Settings page right now, you won’t find a button to Add a Device. Instead, you must tab over to “Connected Devices” to perform the simple, common task of adding a Bluetooth peripheral to your computer. There’s also no easy way to disconnect from a Bluetooth device without removing it entirely.
Creators Update addresses this mess by combining the separate “Bluetooth” and “Connected devices” pages into one “Bluetooth & other devices” page in Settings where you you can add, remove, connect and disconnect devices at will.
07. Action Center sliders
Right now, when you swipe in from the right edge of your screen to call up the Action Center, there’s a control to adjust display brightness — but tapping it only bumps up display brightness in huge, 25 percent blocks. Usually, I’m looking for finer control. But Creators Update offers handy sliders for both brightness and volume.
Microsoft is also testing a slider that could help you fine-tune the balance between your computer’s battery life and performance.
Microsoft is adding picture-in-picture support to its Universal Windows Apps. The built-in Movies & TV app allows you to watch a film or TV show and pop the window out so it’s always on top, and Skype will place calls above other windows. It’s similar to features on iOS or Android, and you can keep watching content while you browse or work in other apps. Only some of Microsoft’s own apps support picture-in-picture right now, but all developers will be able to include the feature in app updates.
09. Custom color picker for Windows themes
You can select a custom color from a picker rather than being forced to choose from the limited selection Windows offers to personalize your Windows theme.
10. e-books and Edge
You’ll soon be able to buy e-books from the Windows Store and read them in Edge. There’s a new hub in Edge in between your Reading list and History for e-books. When reading an e-book in Edge, you can press a button to have Edge read aloud to you.
Creators Update doesn’t have a lot in it and isn’t nearly as comprehensive as last year’s Anniversary Update. Microsoft has another major update planned for later this year, which should include a lot of notable new features and design improvements.