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Windows 10 Fall Creators Update release date and features

The Creators Update is out, but there’s another one: the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. Read the latest news about the next big update.

The Windows 10 Fall Creators Update is coming. Here’s what you need to know


By | 11 mins ago

Windows 10 (reviewed)[2] was released on 29 July 2015 and is being updated regularly.

The first big update was the Anniversary Update on 2 August 2016. Next came the Creators Update in April 2017. Microsoft has announced another one: the Fall Creators Update which will be out in autumn 2017.

If you want to get Windows updates earlier than the general public, you need to sign up to the Windows Insider Programme. Here’s how to get Windows updates early[3].

When is the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update release date?

Expected release date: September 2017

Whether it will be called Autumn Creators Update in the UK is unknown, but since ‘fall’ means autumn, we expect it to be release around September time. Microsoft hasn’t officially said anything but it did show this slide at a developer event earlier this year:

Windows 10 update release schedule 2017

As ever, the update will be free to all computers running Windows 10.

What are the new features in the Fall Creators Update?

The reason it’s called the Creators Update again is because it will contain more ‘creative’ features. Hopefully including some of the things Microsoft promised[4] in the April Creators update but which never materialised.

Story Remix

Fall Creators Update Story Remix

This will do a similar thing to Memories on an iPhone, in that it will automatically create edited videos from your photos and videos. But on top of this, you’ll be able to use Windows Ink (if you have a touchscreen device) to draw or write on the video, and even anchor your scribbles to a person or object so it automatically moves with it.

There’s mixed reality too, so you could – as in Microsoft’s example above – turn a football into a fireball using the same anchor and tracking mechanism.

Timeline

Timeline is an improved ‘Task View’. When you click on the Task View button you’ll see not only the current apps and windows you have open, but you can scroll down to see the stuff you were working on previously that day, or even months ago. This will also work across your Windows 10 devices because the information is stored in Microsoft Graph.

This is what Microsoft calls an “intelligent fabric that helps connect dots between people, conversations, projects, and content within the Microsoft Cloud”. In practice, it means you can do whatever you need to do no matter which device you happen to have picked up.

Pick up where you left off

Continuing on the same theme, the Fall Creators Update will use Cortana (and the cloud) to let you carry on doing something on another device. This will even extend to Android and iPhones / iPads – assuming app developers build in the functionality.

OneDrive Files On-Demand

Not quite a return of Placeholders, but this change means you can see which files are in your OneDrive without actually having them stored locally on each Windows 10 device.

Currently, you have to choose which OneDrive folders and files are synced, and it means that those you don’t sync aren’t shown when you browse your OneDrive folder on that PC or laptop.

Control Centre

WindowsCentral[5] spied a screenshot on the official Windows blog before it was removed, and it shows what looks like a revamped Action Centre. It has shortcut toggles to common features as the Action Centre does right now, but also includes things like a brightness control. Rumour has it that the Action Centre will remain, but be dedicated to notifications: the ‘Control Centre’ will be new and separate.

Creators Update Fall Control Centre

Clipboard

We all use the clipboard for copying and pasting, but in the Fall Creators Update you can copy and paste things between connected devices, whether you’re on a Windows PC or your phone. Basically, it’s a cloud-based clipboard.

Fluent Design

Part of the update will be some graphical changes, and these are called Fluent Design (previously codename: Project Neon). The changes won’t be major, but will introduce blurring (called “Acrylic”) and animations that make things simpler and more consistent.

Ultimately, it’s a lot like the Aero interface introduced in Windows Vista, and the blurring and animations you see in iOS, such as when you scroll up and emails or text run behind a title bar, and when the title bar shinks and even disappears when you scroll down a web page. The updates will change the look and feel of some of Windows 10’s native apps, such as Groove, shown below, but will also be opened up to developers. The whole idea is to make a modern interface which will work across all Windows devices, including HoloLens as well as phones and tablets.

However, unlike the mistake that Microsoft made with Windows 8, such changes shouldn’t detract from the user experience on PCs and laptops.

How to get the spring Creators Update

Assuming your PC is already running Windows 10, you should receive the Creators Update automatically, since it’s an update and updates in Windows 10 are installed when they’re available. However, you can check for updates manually by going to Start, Settings (the cog icon), Update & security, Check for Updates. The Creators Update will be available in the same place.

You should see a message saying, “Good news! The Windows 10 Creators Update is on its way. Want to be one of the first to get it?” or similar.

If not, wait until it has finished checking for available updates and then allow them to be installed before checking again. Windows 10 Creators Update

You can start installing the update manually. To do this download and run Microsoft’s Update Assistant[6].

This will walk you through the process, including checking if your system is compatible. Alternatively, you can use the download tool from Microsoft[7]. Choose Create installation media for another PC, then select the language, edition and whether you want 32- or 64-bit.

You can then use the tool to copy the files to a bootable USB drive or a bootable DVD. Once this is complete you can boot from the drive or disc and follow the on-screen instructions to install the Windows 10 update.

What features are in the April 2017 Creators Update?

Here’s a selection of the main features in the update which came out in April 2017.

Microsoft Edge

Hoping to get a bigger share of the global web browser market, there are updates to Edge including support for 4K Netflix, ebooks and new tricks for Cortana. Microsoft has given developers of add-ons access to more features and functions in the browser and – with a bit of luck – we’ll start to see the library grow.

Currently the list of Extensions is relatively short. Windows 10 Creators Update - Microsoft Edge

Another update to Edge is the ability to save and restore groups of tabs. The idea behind this is to reduce clutter and improve performance for people who tend to have a lot of tabs open.

Instead of keeping lots of pages open, you can save a group of them, ‘set them aside’ and then return to them later on without having to search through your history or try to remember what you were looking at. It’s not a killer feature for everyone, but for some it will be a compelling reason to use Edge over another browser. Windows 10 Creators Update - Microsoft Edge

3D content

3D content was a focus for Microsoft, but much of that is missing in the Creators Update.

What you get is a new version of MS Paint. You can now create 3D shapes in Paint and share them directly with your social followers, or SketchUp network – better still, print them directly on your 3D printers, nifty. Here’s a brief look at how it works:

Blue light reduction

Android, iOS and Amazon’s mobile operating systems all have a feature which reduces blue light at night, so it’s not too surprising that Microsoft has added this feature to Windows.

Ebooks

Windows now has the ability to sell you and let you read ebooks (in the Edge browser).

App throttling

App throttling control gives priority to the apps in focus, and deprioritises background apps so they don’t use up too many of your computer’s resources.

Windows 10 Creators update - App Throttling

Game settings

The Settings app has a new Gaming section, which will consolidate all the game-related Windows settings into one easy place. Most of those will be familiar, but there will also be two major new features:

Game Mode

Game Mode prioritises the game that’s running and devote as much processing time, RAM and other resources as it can to making it run as fast as possible. For example, if you’re running a multi-core CPU, it might delegate background tasks to two specific CPU cores, leaving the others to focus entirely on running the game.

The aim is to boost overall game performance, especially frame rates, which should be both higher and more consistent. While it will most obviously be of benefit to gamers with older or lower-spec computers, power users could see a benefit too, especially if they’re running apps like Discord or broadcasting their session while they play. While there are third-party applications that offer similar functionality, Game Mode will take running order priority, optimising performance before those apps get a chance to.

Game Mode will default to enabled at the OS level, though can be switched off at any time. Despite that, it still needs to be manually activated for each game using the Game Bar, which you can pull up by pressing Windows-G. – though Microsoft says it’s working with publishers and developers to allow some games to ship with Game Mode on by default.

Built-in broadcasting

Another big update for gamers is the new built-in Beam streaming. Beam is Microsoft’s alternative to Twitch, and the option is added to the existing Game Bar.

Microsoft promises sub-second latency for Beam, which not only means less lag, but also opens up the potential for one major feature: interactivity. That means that streamers can add buttons to their streams to allow viewers to interact, even making it possible for them to do things like change lighting effects or even spawn enemies in compatible games – Minecraft is one early example. Beam has some fairly simple configuration options (see below), and anyone can sign up for a free account by visiting Beam.pro[8].

This can be linked to an Xbox Live account, but you don’t need an Xbox to use Beam – it’s available both on console and PC. Game mode - Beam streaming - Game bar

Pause updates

Also new is the ability to pause updates not just until you’re not using your PC or laptop, but for up to 35 days (but still not in the Home version).

Security Centre

A brand new Security Centre basically brings a lot of Windows security features together and makes them accessible from one easy-to-use dashboard. Much like an internet security suite, it presents several icons for different types of security and then marks them with a green tick if that area is ok.

If not, you’ll see a warning that action is required. It’s said to play nice with third-party antivirus, so Microsoft isn’t forcing you to use Windows Defender (check out our best free antivirus to see how Windows Defender scores). Creators Update Security Centre

Picture-in-picture

The last features to be added to the Creators Update are Picture-in-Picture and ‘Dynamic Locking’.

The former is actually called Compact Overlay window, and will be familiar to anyone who has used the floating video window on an iPad or macOS Sierra. In fact, more and more apps are getting this function: YouTube lets you watch a tiny video while browsing for others on your phone and you can now do the same in the Facebook app. Here’s how it looks, and any app developer can add the functionality to their Universal Windows Apps:

Windows 10 Creators Update Picture in picture

Dynamic Locking

This automatically locks your Windows 10 machine if your connected Bluetooth phone isn’t detected in range. It means that if you walk away from your laptop, tablet or Bluetooth-equipped PC with your paired phone, it will lock it after 30 seconds and turn off the screen. Windows 10 Creators Update Dynamic Locking

Critical updates

Interestingly, as reported by WinSuperSite[9], Microsoft is seemingly going to push critical updates to Windows 10 PCs even if they are set to a ‘metered’ internet connection.

This is one trick that many users employ to prevent updates being automatically downloaded[10]. It appears that this won’t work – for critical updates at least – after you install the Creators Update.

What’s not in the Creators Update?

The big focus was on 3D content when Microsoft originally announced the update. But somewhere along the line, big features went missing.

One is the 3D Capture app which was supposed to allow you to scan objects (with a suitable camera or phone) and turn them into virtual 3D objects in mere seconds. This isn’t in the Creators Update on PC or Windows 10 mobile. Nor are 3D PowerPoint or HoloTour.

It appears that only developers have access to some of these features, and end users will have to wait. Another is the My People app, which is likely to come in Redstone 3 (below). When it does arrive you will now have the option to pin up to five ‘people’ to the taskbar, enabling you to quickly drag and drop files to your contacts, by taking these files to the taskbar.

How much does Windows 10 cost in the UK?

Until 29 July 2016 Windows 10 was a free upgrade from Windows 7 and Windows 8, though you had to pay to upgrade from XP or Vista.

Since that deadline has passed Windows 10 Home now costs ?99.99 and Windows 10 Pro costs ?189.99, both from Microsoft’s online store[11].

Once you have Windows 10, the updates are free – this includes the Anniversary and Creators Updates.

See also: How to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 10[12].

References

  1. ^ (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  2. ^ Windows 10 (reviewed) (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  3. ^ get Windows updates early (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  4. ^ some of the things Microsoft promised (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  5. ^ WindowsCentral (www.windowscentral.com)
  6. ^ Microsoft’s Update Assistant (go.microsoft.com)
  7. ^ download tool from Microsoft (www.microsoft.com)
  8. ^ Beam.pro (beam.pro)
  9. ^ WinSuperSite (winsupersite.com)
  10. ^ prevent updates being automatically downloaded (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  11. ^ Microsoft’s online store (www.microsoftstore.com)
  12. ^ How to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 10 (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)

Three charts on Australia’s growing appetite for fast broadband

This piece is part of our new Three Charts series, in which we aim to highlight interesting trends in three simple charts. The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ latest figures on internet activity in Australia[1] show a huge jump in the number of people with advertised speeds of greater than 24 Mbps (that’s megabits per second, a measure of data transfer speed). That trend is significant because it suggests that Australia’s appetite for faster broadband is growing apace, and that the NBN may be helping to drive adoption of higher speed internet.

Starting from Dec 2014, the number of subscribers in Australia with internet advertised as being capable of 24 Mbps or greater rose from 2.3 million to 7.8 million.[2] Or, expressed another way, from 19% of all internet subscribers to 58% of all subscribers. (It’s worth noting that the growth is in people who have signed up to packages that advertised internet speeds capable of reaching 24 Mbps. That’s not to say that speed is actually delivered all of the time; there is variation and one doesn’t always get the advertised speeds.)

This increase is due, in part, to the roll-out of the national broadband network (NBN) and access to broadband at higher speeds – but that’s not the whole story. True, the number of NBN subscribers over the same period rose rapidly from 322,000 to 1.7 million but that doesn’t explain the other 5.5 million subscribers who moved to faster broadband in that time. Looking at the types of connection, there was an increase in the number of subscribers using internet delivered by fibre and fixed wireless.

This tallies with what NBN data show. It’s likely that with the advent of the NBN and its standardised speed tiers, internet service providers started offering services that were on a par or better than those being offered on the NBN. Competition may be at work, and the technology itself is improving.

However, data reported by cloud computing services firm Akamai in their State of the Internet[3] reports – frequently cited[4] by the press – showed Australia’s broadband to be woefully behind most other developed countries. Indeed, in the same time that Australia saw a huge increase in subscribers on internet speeds of 24 Mbps and above, Akamai was reporting that average internet download speeds had increased by a mere 27%, an increase to an underwhelming 10.1 Mbps. That puts Australia down the list in terms of average speeds.

With ABS data showing that 58% of the population is now on plans capable of delivering speeds of 24 Mbps and above, such a paltry rise in the average internet speed is somewhat surprising. It is, of course, possible that the advertised speeds of Australian internet plans are, too often, misrepresenting the true speeds available. The way that Akamai calculates its figures is not spelled out in its report – it says[5] that it “includes data gathered from across the Akamai Intelligent Platform”.

So perhaps it would be wise to take claims about Australia’s rank in the world on internet speeds with a hefty grain of salt. Things may be better than we are being told. More data is needed to make sense of the impact of the shift of subscribers to higher speed internet.

Projects like the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s plan[6] to “test and report on the typical speed and performance of broadband plans provided over the NBN” will help build a more accurate picture.

References

  1. ^ internet activity in Australia (www.abs.gov.au)
  2. ^ rose from 2.3 million to 7.8 million. (www.abs.gov.au)
  3. ^ State of the Internet (www.akamai.com)
  4. ^ cited (www.abc.net.au)
  5. ^ says (www.akamai.com)
  6. ^ plan (www.accc.gov.au)

How to improve Wi-Fi in the home

Weak Wi-Fi signals slowing you down? While it’s a pain, it’s not impossible to fix. Here’s our top tips (and gadgets) to help improve Wi-Fi connectivity at home.

Tips and gadgets to improve your home Wi-Fi


By | 16 mins ago

Improve wifi tips home network boost

All of us know a house’s weak or dead Wi-Fi spots, and it’s frustrating when these are where you need a strong Wi-Fi signal most.

Wi-Fi black spots are most often caused by distance from the wireless router (wireless signals weaken with range), thick stone walls, and interference. If the Wi-Fi in your house is pretty flaky you might want to consider a Wi-Fi range extender to push your signal that extra bit further. Alternatively, you can add Powerline adapters that use your home’s electrical wiring to create a speedy home network with added new Wi-Fi hotspots.

Here’s some tips and tricks and inexpensive gadgets that will help improve your wireless signal.

Update your wireless router

If your house suffers from weak Wi-Fi, the first step to consider is upgrading your wireless router. The oldest to newest Wi-Fi standard are: 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, and 802.11ac. If you have an older wireless “b” or “g” router you should consider replacing it with a newer wireless “n” or “ac” device that offers longer ranges and faster connection speeds.

Why not be cheeky and ask your ISP to send you an updated wireless router? If you’ve been a customer for a while it should help you out, but watch out if it asks you to sign up for a longer term, unless you’re happy with its service. Though these newer routers may not significantly increase the range of your wireless network, you should at least get better speeds at longer distances.

Check out the best wireless routers[2] in our round up. Netgear wireless router 802.11ac

You wont get the maximum range and performance from the newer wireless router unless your computers, smartphone or tablets also use the same Wi-Fi standard. An old laptop is unlikely to boast “ac” or “n” Wi-Fi.

Check the specs to see which wireless standard it is using. Rather than buy a new laptop or desktop PC or Mac you can buy a wireless adapter – from as little as ?25 – that plugs into a USB port. You can also add a new wireless adapter inside a desktop PC’s case or via a PC Card slot, but good luck trying that with a Mac!

Check out our round up of the Best 802.11ac USB Wi-Fi adaptors[3]. What about your smartphone’s wireless? Apple’s iPhone 6[4] and Samsung Galaxy S4[5] and later, for example, are equipped up to 802.11 ac (and backwards compatible with all the older standards), while older variants like the iPhone 4 and 5, Galaxy S, S2 and S3 are only compatible up to 802.11 n.

Create a new Powerline home network

We also recommend considering Powerline adapters that create a fast home network using the electrical wiring in your house.

This means you can take your internet around your house without losing much performance. Creating a Powerline home network is as easy as plugging in to a power socket. Simply plug one adapter into a power socket near your router and connect it to the router using an Ethernet cable (usually supplied with the adapter).

Then plug the second adapter into a power socket in a far-away room. You can then attach this to your smart TV, Sky+ box, games console, laptop, etc, via another Ethernet cable. Powerline home network set up

This means that you can do without Wi-Fi for more demanding tasks such as streaming HD TV shows or moves from catch-up TV services such as BBC iPlayer, 4oD and Sky.

Powerline adapters act as if they’re directly plugged into your router – even if they’re on the other side of the house. You need at least two adapters, and the best way to buy these are as part of a starter kit. The best Powerline adapters can also create a new Wi-Fi hotspot right there in the second (or third or fourth) room.

These create not merely boosted signals – like you get with a Wi-Fi extender – but close-to-fully performing new Wi-Fi hotspots. They cost more but are much more versatile and provide faster speeds than mere extenders. Read our Powerline Explained[6] feature and Best Powerline Adapters[7] round up.

Wi-Fi Extenders

A new wireless router or Powerline Adapter with built-in wireless are the two best options, but can cost more than a simple Wi-Fi Extender.

The best Powerlines, with wireless functionality, we tested cost from around ?50 to ?150. Wi-Fi extenders such as TP-Link’s TL-WA860RE or AC750 are priced around ?20. Read: TP-Link Wireless Extender review[8].

Wi-Fi extenders catch a wireless signal and then rebroadcast it, helping to strengthen the signal from a router on a different floor of a house or on the opposite side of a building. It should be noted that they can also drag down your network’s performance. WiFi extender home booster repeaters

A repeater uses half its internal antennae to receive a wireless signal and the other half to transmit a new signal – effectively halving the potential speed of the device’s network connection.

This shouldn’t be that noticeable for light web browsing, email, etc, but can be felt when streaming video or moving files around the network. That’s why we prefer Powerline for the more demanding tasks. Wi-Fi extenders share the bandwidth with the router.

Wi-Fi speeds are slower because it’s sharing the data between the router and the extender, whereas the Powerline simply acts as a single device (not sharing the bandwidth) and so you get stronger signals. The Wi-Fi extender needs to be placed in a central location, not too far away from the main router. If you put the repeater at the far edge of your main network hoping to strengthen the signal you will reduce the speed of your connection to the rest of the network and to the internet.

Remember that the extender is just boosting the signal. If it’s placed in a weak-Wi-Fi spot then it will merely push around that weak signal. Place it in an area with better Wi-Fi and the signal it pushes out will be stronger, too.

The ideal location for a range extender is half way between your main router and the intended wireless devices – in an open corridor or spacious room rather than a crowded space. It should be away from interfering devices such as cordless phones, Bluetooth gadgets and microwave ovens.

Bands on the run: 2.4GHz or 5GHz wireless

We need to explain the difference between Wi-Fi bands. We’ll try to keep this as technically simple as possible, but skip if if this stuff is just going to get your head spinning.

Wi-Fi can work over one of two spectrum bands: 2.4GHz or 5GHz. The trade offs between 2.4GHz and 5GHz have to do with interference, range, and speed. Manufacturers claim that 2.4GHz routers or extenders can reach up to 300Mbps speeds, while 5GHz devices have a theoretical maximum of 450Mbps.

Dual-band devices are therefore sometimes rated as 750Mbps. Remember that these claimed speeds are theoretical maximums, and you won’t be getting anywhere near these speeds, but you can achieve perfectly acceptable wireless performance using such devices. 2.4GHz vs 5GHz wifi radio bands

Each band has its limitations, however.

2.4GHz devices face a battle for the available space, and so cause interference between each other. The 2.4GHz band is also divided into overlapping channels. The more overlap, the greater the interference among networks located closely together.

Switching to 5GHz alleviates the channel problem because so many more channels are available – and without any overlap – in the 5GHz band. But 2.4GHz does have one big advantage over 5GHz: range. The shorter wavelengths used in the 5GHz band cannot penetrate as well through seemingly solid objects like walls, ceilings, desks, and, yes, people.

The more interference, the less speed and range; the greater range you want, the less speed you can have; the greater speed you want, the more you have to mitigate interference and work closer to an access point. A dual-band (2.4GHz and 5GHz) Wi-Fi extender, like the TP-Link AC750, should offer the best of both worlds. The same goes for Powerline adapters.

The latest Devolo dLAN 1200+ WiFi Starter Kit[9], for example, uses “ac” and 2.4Ghz and 5GHz bands.

References

  1. ^ (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  2. ^ best wireless routers (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  3. ^ Best 802.11ac USB Wi-Fi adaptors (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  4. ^ iPhone 6 (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  5. ^ Samsung Galaxy S4 (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  6. ^ Powerline Explained (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  7. ^ Best Powerline Adapters (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  8. ^ TP-Link Wireless Extender review (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  9. ^ Devolo dLAN 1200+ WiFi Starter Kit (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)