Windows 10 “Creators Update”

The latest big feature update for Windows 10 has been released, entitled “Creators Update” (version 1703) due to several new applications for creating, viewing, and printing 3D models. That sounds great but Paint 3D seems more like a toy than a tool at this point. I could find no way to show or input measurements, and Microsoft’s own impressive Remix 3D demos are tellingly labeled “Created with Maya.”

There are a large number of actual improvements that are not immediately visible, however. You can find links to official announcements and thorough reviews below. Here are some things I found remarkable in Creators Update from my own observations.

  • Simplified UI for high DPI settings, plus finally an option (indeed two!) to force DPI virtualization on mismarked programs. See my dedicated post on these features.
  • Night Light can shift the monitor towards warmer colors from sunset to sunrise. This equivalent to f.lux or Apple’s Night Shift does nothing special, but it’s nice to have it built into the system.
  • Some more system settings moved from the Win32 Control Panel into the UWP Settings app, so you need to switch less often between these fundamentally different environments.
  • Some system tools were rewritten in UWP (e.g. Defender), and some very archaic Win32 programs use the new “enhanced” DPI scaling to render text sharply (e.g. Device Manager).
  • The Start menu is still an abomination with useless blinking tiles and an inability to show nested folders. Fortunately Classic Shell has been continually updated and still works fine.

Applications & Games

  • Calculator keeps getting more features, bit by bit. The current version can compute differences between dates and convert units of measurement in no less than twelve categories, including exotics such as pressure and volume.
  • Edge got the ability to show e-books (epub format) in addition to PDF documents. The books I tried rendered well, with two pages side-by-side in highly readable text. Again, nothing spectacular but nice to have. Edge got other improvements as well, though to be honest it’s still catching up.
  • There’s a “Game Mode” to deprioritize background processes while games are running. Allegedly it should work with Win32 as well as UWP games, but when I tried the Game Bar hotkey with old Steam games I just got a brief screen flicker, apparently to acknowledge the hotkey. The Game Bar did not appear, so I have no idea if Game Mode had been activated or not.
  • Solitaire finally lets you double-click on cards to automatically place them on the appropriate stack, just like the old Win32 version did. Moreover, you now have the option to only play solvable decks, a great improvement originally introduced in the mobile versions.

All in all, Creators Update is a fine incremental improvement of Windows 10. The only feature left over from the Windows 8 era that I still hate is the awful primitive new Start menu. Thanks to Classic Shell, that’s not a big obstacle either.

Further Reading

Mollie Ruiz-Hopper’s What’s new in the Windows 10 Creators Update gives the official rundown of all user-facing features. Tim Anderson at The Register and Chris Hoffman at How-To Geek wrote two noteworthy reviews that go into a lot of technical details, including some revised internals.

Kevin Gallo’s Windows 10 Creators Update and Creators Update SDK are Released provides an overview of new features for developers, excluding .NET (see below). You can find the detailed change list under What’s New in Windows 10 for Developers.

Creators Update ships with .NET Framework 4.7, once again an in-place update. It’s not yet available for older Windows versions but should be soon. Rich Lander’s Announcing the .NET Framework 4.7 describes some of the changes. He maintains a complete list under .NET Framework 4.7 List of Changes. Notably, a number of built-in Windows Forms controls now render correctly on high-DPI displays – but only for applications that are recompiled with a new manifesto for Windows 10.

Rich Turner’s What’s new in Bash/WSL & Windows Console describes the extensive improvements for the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). Most console window changes are related to WSL as well, such as ANSI escape codes and 24-bit color support for Linux command-line applications.

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