In just a few days, the Easter Bunny will be bringing a wonderful surprise to lots of good little girls and boys, when April 11 rolls around and Microsoft releases the Windows 10 Creators Update. There is all sorts of goodness in the Creators Update, and we’re not just talking about sugary filled chocolate. If you’re running Windows 10, here are the 22 things you want to know about this update. If you’re not yet, this may be just the thing to convince you to finally let go of Windows XP! Seriously dude, it died years ago. Let it go. Let it go.

The details

1. When do things start to happen?

The second Tuesday of every month is when Microsoft releases its monthly updates, and of course, this is an update. April 11 may be an “interesting” day for SMBs that have lots of unmanaged Windows 10 machines on relatively low-bandwidth connections, since those machines will look to download the update at that time. Don’t worry, it’s not a push, and anyone running Active Directory will be controlling their Windows 10 machines for this, just as with any other, patch, but you want to be aware of this nonetheless. At this point I don’t have a size for the update, but given what is in it, I am expecting a few hundred megabytes. While the update will be available starting on April 11, even unmanaged machines that phone home for updates won’t all get it at once. The update will be staggered both to reduce impact to you, and likely load to Microsoft.

2. How much?

For anyone running Windows 10, the Windows 10 Creators Update is free (as in beer.) It costs nothing. Nada. Zip. You’re going to get a lot of truly awesome functionality at no additional charge.

3. For how many?

Microsoft numbers peg the total number of Windows 10 systems who will receive this upgrade (and let’s face it here, you can call it an update but it’s really an upgrade) at around 400 million. That’s a lot of systems running Windows 10. That’s A LOT of data downloads Microsoft’s CDN will have to support!

Security

The Creators Update packs a lot into the download for the security conscious users. Take a look at these cool new things coming down to you.

4. Proximity lock with Windows Hello

Combining Windows Hello with Bluetooth paired mobile devices, Windows can automatically lock when you walk away from your computer, assuming you take your phone with you. And we all know you do, even when you are answering a call of nature, so this is a pretty cool way to make sure no one leaves their machine unlocked and unattended.

5. Windows Defender Security Center

The new Security Center gives users an easy to use and understand portal to view the security status of their Windows 10 system, including antimalware, health & performance, firewall, application and browser controls, and family options. You can read more about that at: https://blogs.windows.com/windowsexperience/2017/01/23/introducing-windows-defender-security-center/#ghBMdoyoH5W2moi0.97.

6. Privacy management

An improved Privacy Management app will let you easily see what data is being shared and with whom, and control or even turn off that sharing if you wish.

7. In-place UEFI conversion

For the enterprise, if you deployed Windows systems using legacy BIOS, and now want to upgrade to Windows 10 without having to format and reinstall, with the Windows 10 Creators Update you can do in-place conversions to UEFI. That means you’re ready to start to take advantage of things like Device Guard and other UEFI dependent security solutions without having to go manually re-partition hard drives.

Microsoft Edge

Microsoft has included some pretty significant improvements with their Edge browser in the Creators Update; enough that even I may finally consider switching. Take a look.

8. Faster even than Chrome

Using Google’s own benchmarks, the updated Edge browser scores faster than Chrome for loading and rendering sites including rich media content.

9. Protection from malware and phishing

The included SmartScreen protection blocks more malware and phishing sites than Chrome, according to a report from NSS Labs.

10. Better tab management

Tabs; the only thing I can tell you about tabs is that I open far too many of them at one time. So many that sometimes I lose track, get frustrated and close the browser, and then spend ten minutes digging through my browser history looking for the one I still needed. Maybe soon I can just call my ISP for help with that, but until then, the new tab management sounds like just the feature I need to keep what I find where I can get to it. 

11. Netflix 4K

More on 4K below, but for those of you who like to Netflix and chill in true HD, Edge is the only browser that can stream videos from Netflix in 4K. That probably won’t mean a lot on a hotel’s crappy Wi-Fi, but as the heart of your media center at home, that sounds AWESOME!

Performance and productivity

Improving performance of the operating system, taking advantage of new hardware, making new tech accessible for those of us on a budget, and improving the overall experience all help to improve our productivity, and these cool features should help significantly with that.

12. 3D for everyone

The Creators Update brings new support for 3D object design, even adding this to the venerable Paint program that’s been with Windows since the 3.1 days. Remix3D.com will host 3D content for users, and an update to Office scheduled for next year will add native support for 3D content.

13. 4K monitor support

I remember when I got my first VGA card and monitor, and thought 640×480 was the bomb. Then I got my first HD TV, and a whopping 720i and thought I was going to lose my mind. Now, 4K is the new standard and makes even 1080p pale by comparison. If you have the hardware to support it, the Creators Update brings 4K capabilities to the O/S. What better excuse to buy a new monitor?

14. Mixed/augmented reality

And while we may not have a holodeck yet, more and more hardware vendors are starting to release augmented reality systems based on Windows PCs. The Creators Update brings more support for hardware devices and better performance across a variety of applications. My Minority Report style interface is almost within my reach at last!

15. Win+Shift+S

A new screen clipping option should be included if early releases hold, so that you can simply hit Win+Shift+S to take a screen clipping of any part of your display and directly paste it into any app that can support graphic data. Notepad will still be text only, but you can cut OneNote out as the middleman between copy and paste now.

16. New sharing options

In what I will have to refer to as the “Al Roker” feature, the Creators Update will include a new sharing portal that puts your favourite contacts into a single pane of glass where you can share content, and communicate with them whether it’s by email, IM, or through social media. Instead of multiple applications each with the same group of people, it’s one group of people, with multiple ways to interact with them in one app. That may not seem like much in text, but when you start to use it, you’re going to love it!

Supporting the balance in WLB

But all work and no play makes Cas a dull boy, and sometimes when I’m on a deadline I have to keep on the keyboard even after sunset. These things can help bring balance to the (work)force, let you sleep a little easier, and enforce offline time for the kids, or even yourself!

17. Mini view

We’ve all seen that some apps have a minimalist mode with “always on top” but the Creators Update will bring that to every app. So whether you’re streaming YouTube vids through your browser of choice, want to keep a timer on top, or need anything else to not be buried under the 20 other open windows you have, you can set any app to mini view and keep it right where you need it.

18. Screen time limits

Do your kids spend every possible moment online? Do you need to make sure that their time is limited without having to stand over them, or enforce user-based rules at your proxy (because everyone runs a proxy at home, right?) You can set hours limits on your kids’ accounts so that when it’s homework time, bedtime, or maybe just get off Facebook and join civilized society time, the computer can take care of that for you.

19. Night light

By now, you have probably read tons of articles online that talk about how all the blue wavelengths of light our devices give off are messing with our ability to go to sleep. If you’re like me, you probably read that on your phone while in bed, trying to figure out why you cannot get to sleep. Smart users have used f.lux for years, but in case you either didn’t know about it, or prefer your cool functionality built in, Night Light will pull the blues out of your display to help you go to sleep.

Gaming

And speaking of PLAY, our last three features may be some of the best for those of us who like to get our game on, online.

20. Game Mode on!

If you’re a serious gamer, you have serious hardware and probably spend a lot of time tweaking settings to get the best performance you can out of your system. With Game Mode, the operating system can now automatically allocate the maximum system resources to your game play to lose the lag and get down to business.

21. Beam

Got an epic headshot you want to share with the world? Tired of lame screencaps and cellphone videos (for frak’s sake, turn the phone on its side!!!) Then the Creators Update has a great feature for you. Using the Beam service, you can now take screencaps or vids of any game you are playing, load them up to your channel, and share them with the world. Boom!

22. Xbox PlayAnywhere

Buy a game once, then play it on your Xbox or your computer. That’s a really cool feature for folks who are both hardcore gamers and road warriors. Just do the folks in the hotel room next to you a favour…wear earphones!

While I have my system set to automatically update, you can bet that come the morning of the 11th, I am going to be checking every five minutes if that’s what it takes to get the Creators Update on my machine ASAP. If you’re as stoked as I am for this, leave a comment and let us know which feature(s) you think is best.