Review: Windows 10 Creators Update is worth waiting for

In fact, wait as long as Microsoft will let you, since this is mostly a minor upgrade

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Ever had a Win10 update kick in at an inopportune time? Haven’t we all? Microsoft keeps saying it is solving the problem (active hours, custom restart times), but so far the solutions haven’t worked. Now we’re promised that the new Snooze button (below) will give you the ability to “pause the update process completely for three days.” I remain skeptical, but let’s cross our fingers.

weve got an update for you InfoWorld

Creators Update also introduces a new setup dialog for privacy settings. Microsoft considers this a Real Big Deal, but as best I can tell it doesn’t do much. I talked about this new series of questions during the setup sequence in a January blog post, “Reality check: How Windows 10’s new privacy controls stack up.” In short, Microsoft’s efforts to make privacy settings more accessible is commendable. But it isn’t at all clear if the choices made here have much effect on the “snooping” data collected by Microsoft.

choose privacy settings InfoWorld

I’m particularly concerned by the setting that says Microsoft can use diagnostic data to “get more relevant tips and recommendations to tailor Microsoft products and services for your needs.” If Microsoft is using “diagnostic data” to target tips and recommendations—presumably advertising—we should all be suspicious of “diagnostic data.”

Until Microsoft tells us precisely what data it is collecting and how that data is used, we have no way of making an informed decision about granting access to that data.

Advertising in Windows 10 is annoying and getting worse, rearing its ugly head in more places. In early versions of Windows 10, we saw advertising on the Lock Screen (Settings > Personalization > Lock screen > “Get fun facts, tips and more from Windows and Cortana on your lock screen”) and the Start menu (Settings > Personalization > Start > “Occasionally show suggestions in Start”). More recently, ads have begun to appear in the File Explorer.

file explorer ad InfoWorld

Creators Update changes some of the settings to control these helpful intrusions. The Lock Screen advertising appears to be associated with the Windows spotlight background, for example, but the Suggestions on Start setting persists. Cortana has grown the ability to show ads in the Search box (Cortana > Settings > “Let Cortana pipe up from time to time with thoughts, greetings, and notifications in the Search box”).

We’re going to get more ads in Creators Update. The new Share window, which you can see at the beginning of this review, includes download links for Twitter, Box, Dropbox, Instagram, Line, and Facebook Messenger. The Start menu (shown below from a completely clean copy of Creators Update) includes tiles for Drawboard PDF, Facebook, Twitter, Houzz, Minecraft, Candy Crush Soda Saga, Asphalt 8 Airborn, Age of Empires Castle Siege, and Royal Revolt II.

Call them “recommendations” or “suggestions” if you like—Microsoft does. But many Windows customers feel they step over the line. Creators Update takes even more steps over the line.

win10 15063 minimal start InfoWorld

Finally, Microsoft is implementing differential downloads for major version changes: the Unified Update Platform. UUP reduces the download size of Win10 version changes by 30 percent. That’s a 30 percent savings in one download every eight months—not bad, but a much bigger deal for Microsoft than for customers.

The bottom line

If you see something in the Creators Update that you absolutely can’t live without—maybe Paint 3D or Xbox support, or those fancy rotating 3D PowerPoint pics—by all means, queue up and install Creators Update as soon as it’s available. If you want the ability to more finely control updates, jump in. If the more usable Edge strikes your fancy or the new Cortana rings your chimes, you may have good reason to join the ranks of unpaid beta testers.

However, if you want to be confident you’re getting a stable system, you would be much better advised to wait until Microsoft has shaken out the bugs. In a galaxy long ago and far away, that meant waiting for Service Pack 1. Nowadays, it means waiting for the Current Branch for Business designation. I expect Microsoft will put Creators Update on Current Branch for Business in July or August. I talk about the implications of Current Branch for Business at length in “What you need to know about Windows 10 versions and lifespan.”

If you’re running Anniversary Update, stay put. If you’re running Window 7 or Windows 8.1 and you’ve decided to take the Windows 10 plunge, go ahead and do so, but go with the Anniversary Update, not the Creators Update, until Current Branch for Business arrives. Upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 10 Anniversary Update will get tricky soon after Creators Update hits—Microsoft wants you to jump into the latest version of Win10. Stay tuned for instructions about making the leap.

At a Glance

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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