Windows 10 Fall Creators Update Arriving October 17
Microsoft announced that the next major update for Windows 10 will be arriving on Oct. 17.
The announcement came as part of a backdrop of new PCs and Windows Mixed Reality headsets that were on display during an IFA keynote talk in Berlin this week. The talk was led by Terry Myerson, executive vice president of the Windows and Devices Group at Microsoft.
The basic theme of the talk was that the Windows 10 fall creators update is enabling creative activities, such as improved inking and the use of mixed reality visualizations, while also being secure via biometric hardware-based login improvements using the Windows Hello feature.
On the inking side, the fall creators update, Microsoft's fourth major Windows 10 update release, will let users mark on the content of PDFs. The example during the IFA presentation was a designer drawing on kitchen remodeling plans, with the inked markup saved with the file. The new operating system release will also support a "Smart Ink" technology to aid drawing. For instance, a user can sketch a square and it will get perfected by the software.
Microsoft also will have a Find My Pen feature in the Windows 10 fall creators update that will show the user where they last used their lost pen device. It doesn't track the pen itself, though.
The Windows 10 fall creators update also will feature OneDrive Files On-Demand, which lets users open files stored on Microsoft's OneDrive cloud storage infrastructure from their local Windows file picker or from a Windows Store app. Icons show whether a file is stored locally on a device or stored in the cloud, but the files are always visible to the user. There's an option to always keep certain files or folders stored on a device, if that's wanted. For IT pros, Microsoft is promising that the OneDrive Files On-Demand feature reduces bandwidth issues for synchronized SharePoint Online Team Sites, since file changes don't have to immediately be pushed down to collaborators with this feature.
Game Mode in the fall creators update will show up as a button that "allows your games to use the full processing power of your device as if it was an Xbox game console," Microsoft explained, in its announcement. This feature will work with so-called "Xbox Play Anywhere" games. There are currently 25 Xbox Play Anywhere games that have been developed, according to the IFA keynote talk. Microsoft also is planning to release a new Xbox One X dedicated game console device on November 7.
The Windows 10 fall creators update will also have an Eye Control tracking capability accessibility improvement. It will permit people with motor impairments to operate a mouse by just using their eye movements.
On the security side, not much was said. Myerson just stated that Windows Defender was now "smarter than ever" with the fall creators update. Microsoft has been tying Windows Defender, an antimalware service included in Windows 10, into its machine-learning security capabilities of late, but Myerson didn't go into the details. He also briefly mentioned Windows 10 S as a secure option. The Windows 10 S OS runs Universal Windows Platform applications on the Surface Laptop and is aimed at the student market to compete with Google Chromebooks. In case Windows 10 S is seen as being too limiting, Microsoft promises it's possible to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro instead.
Quite a lot of the IFA talk centered on the devices that will be available when the Windows 10 fall creators update gets released on Oct. 17, as well as the devices under development. The new OS will get matched with Intel eighth-generation processors and the latest Nvidia graphics cards. They'll get improved battery lifespans and have support for "OLED and 4K screens," Microsoft's announcement promised.
Microsoft has six PC "collections" categories it ascribes to new Windows 10 PCs. The categories are premium, modern mainstream, entry level, professional, gaming and mixed reality, according to the IFA talk. Premium PCs cost more than $800. Modern mainstream PCs, which are best sellers in stores, range between $300 and $800. This week, Microsoft described new Dell machines running Windows 10, as well as new Acer PCs.
Microsoft has been working with its hardware partners on 37 designs for Windows Mixed Reality devices, according to the IFA talk. This coming holiday season, Microsoft expects to see Windows Mixed Reality headsets and motion controllers coming from "HP, Lenovo, Dell and Acer," according to an announcement. Bundles of headsets and motion controllers will cost as low as $399. Myerson promised there will be headsets from Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP and Lenovo, starting at $299, that are expected to arrive on Oct. 17 with the fall creators update. The Steam games network is participating in supporting Windows Mixed Reality technologies with games, according to the IFA talk.
500 Million Users
During the keynote, Nick Parker, corporate vice president for the Windows Consumer and Device Business, said that last year, 500 million people were running Windows 10, making it Microsoft's fastest growing OS. He added that one billion people wake up each day and use Windows. Cortana, the digital assistant in Windows 10, is on 500 million PCs, Parker said.
Microsoft early on had a corporate goal to see Windows 10 running on one billion devices by fiscal-year 2018, which will start on Oct. 30, 2017. So far, Microsoft appears to be falling way short of that goal.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.