Windows 10 Spring Creators Update: What You Need To Know
In many ways, Windows 10 is Microsoft's best operating system yet, and one of the main reasons for this is that Microsoft is continuing to support it with major updates, such as the upcoming Windows 10 Redstone 4.
As with any major update for Windows 10, Redstone 4 looks set to bring a host of exciting new features to the operating system, and here we'll gather up everything we know so far about the upcoming update.
Cut to the Chase
-- What is it? The next major update for Windows 10
-- When is it out? Possibly [this month, March 2018]
-- What will it cost? As with previous major Windows 10 updates, it will be free.
So, when can we expect Windows 10 Redstone 4 to land? The update is the culmination of over a year's work, with features that were first tested by Windows Insiders, a group of users who try out early versions of Windows 10, back in early 2017.
Then, on August 31 2017, Windows 10 Build 16353 was released to Windows Insiders, which is part of the Redstone 4 development branch. This indicated that Microsoft was gearing up for release.
The smart money is on Windows 10 Redstone 4's release date being sometime [this month]. A recent leak of Redstone 4's final name (see below) also makes it pretty certain we'll be seeing the update very soon.
Windows 10 Redstone 4 Name
Redstone 4 is just the codename for the next major update to Windows 10, so expect it to have a catchier name closer to release. Previous major Redstone updates were called 'Anniversary Update,' 'Creators Update' and 'Fall Creators Update.'
It looks like Microsoft may have let slip what it will finally call Windows 10 Redstone 4, with a reference found in its Feedback Hub to 'Spring Creators Update.'
Microsoft quickly removed the reference, but not before people were able to take screenshots.
At the moment, we're pretty convinced that Windows 10 Redstone 4 will be called Spring Creators Update. For a start, Microsoft's haste in removing the reference makes us pretty suspicious! It also follows the naming convention of previous Redstone updates.
Another recent leak again showed that Microsoft will likely call Windows 10 Redstone 4 the Spring Creators Update, this time from infamous Microsoft leaker WalkingCat. The reference to Spring Creators Update was found in the code for the update, pretty much confirming the name.
Windows 10 Redstone 4 Confirmed Features
Because of the extensive testing process of Windows 10 Redstone 4, we have a good idea of some -- but not all -- of the features coming in the Spring Creators Update. These are the features we know about so far.
The Timeline feature was supposed to arrive with last year's Fall Creators Update, but Microsoft didn't feel it was ready, so it was cut from the release. Now, after months of testing, it looks like it will debut in Redstone 4.
It shows a visual timeline of the desktop, allowing the user to jump right back into what they were doing on another device -- and that includes Android and iOS handsets.
As well as allowing for this seamless transition when switching between different devices, it will also let the user revisit a desktop state from an earlier time. A bit like a Windows version of macOS Time Machine.
It could prove to be a really useful feature, so fingers crossed it's ready in time.
User interface improvements
The way Windows 10 looks will get a big overhaul with Redstone 4, with the ‘Fluent Design' look giving making the operating system look better than ever when the Spring Creators Update arrives.
Many windows and menus you're used to seeing will get a fresh lick of paint, and not only will Windows 10 look nicer, the operating system will be easier to use as well.
Microsoft is looking to make wirelessly sharing files between devices easier than ever in Redstone 4 thanks to its new Near Share feature.
With Bluetooth and Near Share turned on (from the Action Center), you can quickly share documents and more by pressing the ‘Share' button in apps (or in Windows Explorer) -- which will then display nearby devices you can send the file to.
Quick Bluetooth pairing
Connecting your Windows 10-powered device to Bluetooth peripherals is also set to be much quicker and easier in Redstone 4 thanks to the new quick pair feature. When a device in pairing mode is within range of your Windows 10 device running the Spring Creators Update, a notification will appear prompting you to pair it. Click on it, and it will be accessible to your Windows 10 device, without having to go into Settings.
At the moment this only works with Microsoft peripherals, but hopefully we'll see devices from other manufacturers make use of it when Redstone 4 officially releases.
Progressive web apps
The Microsoft Store and Microsoft's Edge browser will also be getting some new features in Redstone 4. Most noticeably, you'll be able to run Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) from within Edge, and these can be installed though the Microsoft Store.
PWAs work like regular Windows apps, but being web-based means they're lightweight and many don't need to be installed. By making them searchable in the Microsoft Store, Microsoft is giving them equal billing as full Windows 10 apps, as well as giving users more apps to choose from.
The Edge web browser is also getting a hefty amount of updates with Redstone 4, as Microsoft continues to improve its software to compete with Chrome and Firefox.
A new-look menu grants you quick access to your bookmarks, history and other essential parts of the browser, and you can now quickly pin eBooks to the Start Menu when reading them in Edge.
Edge will also be better at automatically filling in forms with your information as well, making it easier to sign up for websites and the like. It will remember your payment card details as well (but not the security code on the back), making it easier to pay online. It's good to see these new features, which Edge's competitors have had for a while. Better late than never.
If you're sick of websites blaring out sounds and music when you're browsing, then the new ability to right-click on a tab and mute it will be a blessing, and InPrivate mode can now run certain extensions if you want it to.
Printing has also been improved thanks to the 'Clutter Free' option that removes the unnecessary text, images and more from pages when you print out websites, making them look nicer and saving on ink.
Edge will also get an updated look to match the Fluent Design theme of Windows 10.
Mixed Reality updates
We've also recently heard that Microsoft is adding a range of new features to its Mixed Reality platform with what's expected to be the Spring Creators Update.
Heading up the list of improvements is a brand-new virtual environment for users to wander around. As well as the existing Cliff House, folks can now enjoy the Skyloft with its impressive city view (as opposed to the former's ocean outlook). Think modern super-posh penthouse apartment, basically.
Other important changes have been implemented on the SteamVR front, including the introduction of haptic feedback for the motion controllers in SteamVR games. Also, general performance levels have been improved in these games, with Microsoft managing to tune things to use a 'significantly lower' amount of video RAM.
You'll also be able to take screenshots in Mixed Reality apps easily with the controllers, and video performance in apps is improved as well.
These are all welcome additions that should make Mixed Reality even more competitive compared to the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.
Windows 10 Redstone 4: What We Want To See
So, while we're getting an ever-clearer idea of what new features Windows 10 Redstone 4, otherwise known as the Spring Creators Update, will bring, we've still got a list of things we'd like to see come to Windows 10.
Fewer annoying updates
While Microsoft has been making Windows 10 less annoying when it needs to restart to install an update, it's still not perfect, and we know a few people who have lost work due to Windows 10 restarting itself without warning.
Fewer windows for changing settings
There are a few instances in Windows 10 that still make it feel like two separate operating systems mashed together -- something many people hated about Windows 8. One of the most egregious examples of this is that to change certain settings you need to use the Settings app, while others require you to use the traditional Control Panel.
Not only does this feel a bit clunky, it's also confusing for users. Putting all the settings into one place would be a fantastic addition.
Stop apps and windows auto opening on restart
Microsoft brought a new feature to the Fall Creators Update which reopened any apps, windows and websites you had open when you last shut down your PC.
While this feature does have its uses (and mirrors a feature that's been in Apple's macOS operating system for years), rather frustratingly, Microsoft didn't include an option to disable the feature. This means that anyone who likes a fresh, empty desktop each time they start up Windows 10 needs to make sure everything is closed manually each time they want to turn off the PC.
What we'd like to see is an easy-to-use toggle that lets us choose if we want this option to be on or off. That's not too much to ask, is it?
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Image credit: Product shot by Microsoft; iStock Artist's concept.