Windows 10 is getting a new major update only a few months after the launch of the Creators Update. This time around, Microsoft is gearing up to roll out the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update (version 1709), and while it may not be as significant as its predecessor, it packs a small set of new features and enhancements.
Continuing the work from the previous update, the fourth major release for Windows 10 brings changes around design, update delivery and storage optimization, data protection, cross-device experiences, and numerous tweaks.
I’ve been testing the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update for months, and these I believe are the fourteen coolest new features coming this fall.
Windows 10 is getting a much-needed facelift. Starting with version 1709, Microsoft begins the gradual roll out of Fluent Design — a system that moves away from the boring flat design and introduces a new set of guidelines and features that allow developers to create more immersive and engaging experiences.
Formerly known as “Project Neon,” the “Microsoft Fluent Design System” includes a new form of transparency featuring blur and noise layers, three-dimensional perceptive and motions, visual effects, and system that adapts to any screen.
On the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, you’ll see these changes in the Start menu, Action Center, Settings, built-in apps like Microsoft Edge, Calculator, Groove Music, and on other apps from the Store.
Files On-Demand on OneDrive is a new feature that stores just small piece of metadata with a thumbnail of a file, instead of downloading the entire file to your computer. This process allows to access hundreds of gigabytes of OneDrive files instantly without having to download them and use storage on your device.
When you need the file, you simply double-click the placeholder to trigger the rest of the download, and once opened it’ll stay locally stored on your computer.
Using OneDrive Files On-Demand, you’ll see three status badges. The blue and white cloud badge means the file is online-only, and it’s not using local space. In this case, you simply need to double-click the file to download the rest of the file.
Once the file is on your device, you’ll notice that now it shows a badge with a green check mark, which means that you can access the file without an internet connection. If you want to make room on your device, you can always right-click the file and select Free up space, which sends it back to online-only.
When you need to access files and folder offline, you can always click them and select Always keep on this device. Using this option, new files added from other devices will always sync to your computer. Then you’ll know they’re synced because their icons are solid green with a white check mark.
My People is a new experience that makes connecting and sharing files with people close to your circle a lot easier. Using this new feature, you can pin contacts to the taskbar and quickly send messages and files.
However, My People is not a new communication service, instead it’s a feature that allows you to integrate with other services and apps, such as Skype, Mail, and People, and using a simple and intuitive interface to connect with others.
Although Windows 10 included emoji support for a long time, it was difficult to use. Starting with the Fall Creators Update, Windows 10 introduces a new emoji panel and makes it super easy to use with a hardware keyboard.
The new panel includes emojis version 5.0, easy filtering to quickly search the emoji you want, skin tone for people emojis, and if you don’t know their names, you can simply hover over the emoji to know exactly the one you’re selecting.
Using a hardware keyboard, you can bring up the new emoji panel using the Windows key + “.” or Windows key + “;” keyboard shortcuts.
Another best new feature in this version include new video settings to improve the experience on computers using HDR monitors.
Starting with version 1709, there are new video playback settings to stream videos in HDR when available.
In the Display settings, there are new advanced options to customize your HDR experience, but these new options are only available when an HDR monitor is configured.
In this new version, to make Cortana settings more discoverable, Windows 10 now is moving them to the Settings app.
When opening the Settings app, you’ll now find a new Cortana section that features four new pages, including Talk to Cortana, Permissions & history, Notifications, and More details.
Perhaps the ultimate best new feature you’ll find in version 1709 is the ability to use voice commands to turn off, restart, lock, or sign-out your PC using Cortana.
Here is the list of voice commands you can use:
In addition, if you have Cortana enabled above the Lock screen, you can also ask the assistant to execute the commands above the Lock screen.
Windows 10 now allows you to link your phone to your PC to enable cross-device web-browsing. This is possible with the new Phone feature included in the Settings app, once you linked your phone to your PC using the same Microsoft account, you can use the share experience on your phone to share web links and pick up where you left off on your device using Microsoft Edge.
This continuum feature is available for Android and iOS devices.
On the Fall Creators Update for Windows 10, you’re getting more granular control over the amount of bandwidth your device uses for updates.
Using the new Delivery Optimization options, you can limit bandwidth used for update downloads to prevent interruption while you use your device. It also helps to avoid one device monopolizing an internet connection, which can affect the experience of other users in the network.
If you enable the option to download updates from other devices in the internet, you can also restrict the use of your upload bandwidth by throttling the upload speed.
Additionally, there is an Activity Monitor page that shows you the overall bandwidth usage for download of updates, and exactly the amount of data coming from other devices on your local network or other PCs from the internet.
The default web browser for Windows 10 is getting some useful improvements to work with PDF files, including the ability to edit, save, and print PDF forms.
You can also annotate PDF files using a pen with features like highlighter and eraser.
On supported PDF files, Microsoft Edge will now show its table of contents for easier navigation on e-books.
For scanned PDF documents that may not have a proper orientation, it’s now possible to rotate the document. Using the new layout options, you can switch from one to two-page layout, and change to page-wise scrolling for a better navigation experience.
Additional improvements include a new option to Ask Cortana, and read aloud with options to control speed and voice.
Windows 10 now incorporates a new feature to protect your data from ransomware. The feature is known as “Controlled folder access,” and it monitors the changes that apps make to your files. If an app tries to modify the files inside a protected folder, and the app is blacklisted, you’ll get notified about the suspicious activity.
Power Throttling is yet another best new feature to improve battery life on your device.
The idea behind the new feature is to reduce the amount of processor cycles for apps in the background, prioritizing apps working in the foreground and certain other apps. Using this new power management technique, you should see an increase of up to 11 percent of battery life saving.
The Windows 10 Fall Creators Update introduces a new Share option in the right-click context menu and integrates with the new Share experience to share files with other people.
The Photos is getting an update that introduces a new interface with Fluent Design touches and Story Remix.
Story Remix is a new experience built into a new version of the Photos app, which is essentially a new version of Windows Movie Maker.
The new experience makes it super easy to create videos using photos and videos in your collections.
Photo’s Story Remix uses Microsoft’s deep learning technology and artificial intelligence to find relevant content in your collections to create videos automatically with transitions, themes, and soundtracks. But of course, you can always keep suggested videos or edit them any way you like.
These are what I consider the coolest features included with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. Do you have a favorite feature that wasn’t mentioned? Tell us in the comments.
Originally published on July 2017, updated on October 2017.