Coming early 2017: The Creators Update, the next major update to Windows 10.
Microsoft is now hard at work developing the next major update for Windows 10. Titled "Creative Update", this next update is scheduled to launch in early 2017 and will focus on productivity and creativity improvements for the desktop, and will bring much-needed features and enhancements to Windows 10 Mobile Continuum users.
Microsoft will be bringing a new feature to the taskbar called MyPeople, located next to the System Tray, that makes communicating and sharing with your closest friends easier.
This feature will hook up to Skype, GroupMe and even Office for things like active collaborators within Office, with the ability to quickly message people by selecting their icon. There will also be interactive elements, with things such as receiving an emoji and having it popup directly on the desktop. Pretty neat!
OneDrive File Placeholders
Microsoft infamously removed OneDrive file placeholders from Windows 10 back in 2015, a change that many were unhappy with. Microsoft's reasoning for this was that average consumers found them too confusing. But, with Redstone 2 it appears Microsoft is backtracking on this change.
Announced at Ignite 2016, Microsoft revealed that placeholders will return, though the feature will now be known as "On-Demand Sync." Recent Insider Preview builds include several references to this feature's return, so we'll likely see it show up very soon for testing.
New Windows Defender UI
Microsoft will be updating Windows Defender with a new user-interface in the Creators Update, giving it a Windows 10-esq app design for a much cleaner experience. No news as to if Windows Defender will sport any new features, but a new user-interface is definitely a welcome change.
Improvements to Microsoft Edge
Microsoft is bringing a few new changes to Edge with the Creators Update. The first noteworthy one benefits HoloLens users, with the ability to pull 3d objects directly from a webpage with Edge.
For desktop users, it appears Microsoft will be enhancing the tabs functionality, with an option to set tabs aside for coming back to later. This will keep your open tabs clean and tidy without losing anything.
Action Center improvements
The Action Center is set to receive more improvements with the Creators Update. An improved UI for some notifications, including refined Quick Access icons. Microsoft will also be making it easy to adjust brightness and contract with sliders directly via the Action Center, a pretty neat feature for creatives.
Microsoft will be introducing more personalization options with the Creators Update, including the ability to set the titlebar color to whatever you like with a coloor picker, rather than a few set colors to choose from. It also appears Microsoft will be adding some kind of blue light option, that will work automatically depending on time and environment.
Mail app improvements
Microsoft is adding a few new features to the Windows 10 Mail app with the Creators Update. Opening email in a new windows, responding to emails with quick actions, and being able to mention people with the @ symbol are all new additions coming with the new update.
There's a huge push on creativity and 3d content with the Creators Update, so much so Microsoft has redesigned the Paint app to include pen support, 3d models, and a whole community that allows you to share creations!
Bluetooth GATT support for wearables
Microsoft has gone on record claiming that Bluetooth GATT support will be on Windows Insider builds by the end of the year (2016). That timeline implies a general release during the Redstone 2 deployment in early 2017.
GATT is important to companies like Fitbit who rely on the Bluetooth profile to read and display phone notifications to their fitness wearables. Fitbit is standing by for the SDK update to enable Bluetooth GATT for Windows 10 and Mobile, and other companies will likely follow.
Pick up where I left off
Microsoft is working on bringing a contextual UI to Windows 10 that will pop up a notification telling the user that they are able to sync an apps state from another device and continue exactly where they left off. This will be done with the help of Cortana, which will pop up a notification whenever there's an app available to sync states. Internal documents suggest Microsoft is also looking at making the same feature able to restore an entire workspace, all with the tap of a button. Cortana will be able to contextually sync files, tabs, apps and more between devices, with contextual pop ups that require the user to do very little work getting back into a productive state when moving between form factors.
If needed, an app can simply handoff to Cortana for prompts and other tasks, making syncing a user's workflow between devices easier for developers and the user, as the user knows where to expect this functionality on every device they use. Microsoft calls these "global actions", and with any luck we'll see them come to light very soon.
Continuum for Phones
Windows 10 Redstone 2 will focus mostly on Windows 10 Mobile features and enhancements, with the first of those improvements showing up in Continuum. Microsoft is looking at finally making the Continuum environment look and feel much more like the desktop environment on a typical Windows 10 PC, with multi-window support, a fully functional task bar and Action Center, and a whole lot more.
Here's what we can expect to see show up in Continuum on Windows 10 Mobile with Redstone 2:
- Independent Monitor Idle – Let one screen time out while you keep working on the other one
- Proximity Connect – Keep your phone in your pocket and connect wirelessly to your dock
- Customizable – Independently customizable Start screens across connected devices
- More PC-like experience – Enable "win key + type"; Taskbar app pinning, System tray Windowing
Groove Music Maker
Although Microsoft hasn't actually formally announced Groove Music Maker, it was quickly shown in the Creators Update video reel. It appears Microsoft is working on an app that makes it easy to create your own music, think Apple's GarageBand, but from Microsoft.
But wait, there's more!
Stay tuned at Windows Central over the coming weeks for more exclusive Creators Update coverage, including what Microsoft is planning for the next major set of updates in 2017.