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Windows 10 review

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Summary

Our Score:

8

The Windows 10 Creators Update has arrived, but what should you expect? We evaluate the new features.

What is the Windows 10 Creators Update?

From tomorrow, PCs and laptops around the world will start receiving the Windows 10 Creators Update. Like the Anniversary update Microsoft pushed last year, this is more a collection of smaller additions squeezed into a branded update. In many ways it's totally underwhelming and I don't imagine many people will be rushing to download the update from the Microsoft website in a bid to jump the queue. But there's nothing here that makes Windows any worse, and it's all part of a longer-term Microsoft vision, the full extent of which we don't really know yet.

Related: How to download Windows 10 Creators Update

New features

The change that most users will probably notice is the extension of the ‘Active Hours’ feature to a full 18 hours. This is a time window in which Windows will never restart to install an update, even if you happen to walk away from your PC for a bit. This window was previously limited to 12 hours. Search for 'change active hours' in the Start Menu to try it for yourself. Windows 10 Creators

The fact that a tweak to the most annoying aspect of Windows 10 is the most noticeable new feature of the Creators Update doesn’t really bode particularly well for the rest of this mini review.

My next favourite feature is Paint 3D, which is genuinely one of the best applications Microsoft has made in years. It’s simple, intuitive and includes the excellent Remix3D service – think of it as a 3D version of ClipArt that the world can contribute to – that has a huge array of fun objects to drop into 3D scenes and mess around with.

Windows 10 Creators 1A more advanced example of what can be created in Paint3D

The program is of very little use to adults, but could provide hours of fun for kids, and is a great tool for making mom a birthday card or remembering a fun trip. This is the most creator-y thing in the whole update, and I quite like it.

There’s not a lot else here for the average computer user, to be frank, although Microsoft has added Night Light, which is a built-in blue-light reduction function that lets you set times where the screen will switch from its standard mode to a warmer, less harsh orangey-red mode.

The science behind this is that blue LEDs can cause sleeping problems, affecting your circadian rhythm, because they stimulate our brain into thinking it’s actual daylight. If nothing else, it’s a nice way of reminding you that perhaps you could be doing something else instead of staring at a screen.

I also quite like the way the Edge web browser has been updated. Tab management on most browsers isn’t particularly great; only Vivaldi gets close to offering a good experience. What Edge has done is add a feature where you can park (‘set aside’) all the tabs you currently have open, and start a new session. So I can park all my work tabs (email, documents, product pages and the Slack web app) and start doing my grocery shop without getting my tabs in a mess.

Windows 10 Creators 1

Yes, it’d be just as simple to just open a new Edge window, but not all devices are fast enough to have loads of media-heavy web tabs open at once. Plus, it’s nicer just to be able to park your tabs and separate them in your workspace and your mind.

Related: Best web browsers

When you want to restore them, you simply open up the ‘Tabs you’ve set aside’ menu on the top-left of the screen and select ‘Restore tabs’ on the group you want to re-open. Sadly, Microsoft hasn’t gone far enough. For instance, when you restore a set of tabs, they disappear from the list until you set them aside again.

You can’t pin them to this menu and the only way to save an entire group is to bookmark them, which seems like a weird hybrid of old and new. It’s be great to set up a group of ‘work’ tabs and a group of ‘social’ tabs in this way. It is possible to open an entire folder of bookmarks the old-fashioned way, but it feels like Microsoft didn’t quite want to commit to changing the concept of bookmarks.

Also, tabs normally load afresh, so you can’t restore tabs unless you have an internet connection.

Edge has also added tab thumbnails, so you can see the content of tabs in a small box before you select it. A minor thing, but it makes it much easier to pick between tabs on the same website. Windows 10 Creators 2

Finally, Edge blocks the ageing, unsecure Flash Player by default. This means that when you open a page that has a Flash advert on it, you’ll see a jigsaw icon appear in the address bar, letting you know that Edge has blocked part of the page. If the Flash object is an ad, you can celebrate. If not, just click the jigsaw and Edge will unblock the element. This is useful for web apps such as Spotify, which still need Flash to run.

It’s all a good start, but nothing to convince me to switch back from Chome or Vivaldi.

The last change worthy of real note is that Microsoft has added the ability to stream any game from your device to recently-purchased service Beam. This can be accessed by hitting Windows+G in any program and setting a few simple options about layout and whether you want people to see your webcam and hear your microphone.

Beam’s unique selling point is its incredibly low latency. Indeed, when I tested the service I saw latency of less than two seconds. A result of Beam’s speedy transcoding is that viewers can interact with whatever game is being played in near real-time. You can set up your own custom interactions that are as simple as playing an audio clip, to actually allowing the audience to play the game with you by allowing key commands. It’s early days, and a brief look around Beam shows a pretty vibrant community of streamers but it’s hardly at capacity; someone who’s never tried streaming before could give it a go in the more innocent waters of Beam.

Related: Best laptops to buy right now

Windows 10 Creators Update verdict

There’s no single stand-out feature here that’ll change the way you use Windows, but that’s not what Windows updates have ever been about. Ironically, the best thing about this update is the ability to further delay the installation of updates. Still, Microsoft has shown it’s committed to adding features to Windows 10, even if it isn’t quite sure how to market them. If nothing else, it’s a good way to let people know about a few new features they may or may not care about.

LeeTronix

July 28, 2015, 3:15 pm

For this site its not a bad review considering.

That said I do not understand how you can rate the OS as it is not out until the 29th onwards and as with all new OS or upgrades it takes around 6 months or more of tweaking still so the finite issues start to run smoothly.

You gave Apple Yosemite 9/10....for and upgrade as you called it..!
http://www.trustedreviews.c...

The bottom line is I would not provide an out of 10 scenario until its official.

Dead Words

July 28, 2015, 3:35 pm

Will you be constantly updating this review to take into account any new major updates? For example, Threshold 2, which is expected this fall and is also expected to bring many new UI changes and new features.

Dead Words

July 28, 2015, 3:47 pm

I completely agree with this score, and everything in this review (usually I disagree on a few points, and every now and then outright oppose your review scores) and it was a good read (although I do wish you had written a piece on Groove Music as it is the default music player). Good job on writing a well-rounded, unbiased review. As long as you continuously update this review as Microsoft will continuously update Windows 10, I'm very satisfied.
Written on Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 10240.

andyvan

July 28, 2015, 4:49 pm

Thanks for the kind words -- a great deal of effort went into this review.

We'll definitely be revisiting this review over the coming months, particularly given how DirectX 12 will develop. It'll be interesting to see if the Windows Store sees any serious growth, too, as I think that'll be big indicator to how Windows 10 is performing.

andyvan

July 28, 2015, 4:50 pm

See above -- we will be updating this review in the weeks/months to come.

Dead Words

July 28, 2015, 5:18 pm

That's very good. I especially look forward to the review update when Threshold 2 comes along, as I'm excited to test it out myself (as I'm an Insider I'll be getting it first).

andyvan

July 28, 2015, 5:20 pm

In my perfect world there would be no such thing as review scores, but that's a whole different thing.

As noted above, we will be revisiting the review at regular intervals to see how things are developing.

While the OS isn't out until tomorrow, the review is based on the build that's going out tomorrow. It's the same version everyone is using to review Windows 10.

On the Windows/Mac comparison, I think the big difference is Windows is attempting to do more, which makes scoring it more difficult. But, as I said, I wouldn't put too much emphasis on the score. It's just a number.

I guess, if you were breaking it down, it would be a 9 for desktop/laptop users and a 7 for tablet/hybrid users, hence the middle ground.

LeeTronix

July 28, 2015, 9:47 pm

Thanks for your reply.

Yeah I agree with a lot of this and what you said just except for the out of 10 bit as noted. I do appreciate you have to get the ball rolling but it wouldn't be as much fun if we all fell in line! :)

LeeTronix

July 28, 2015, 9:52 pm

I agree the review is very in depth and actually its analysis is great. I do not think it is un-biased just the score issue is for me but otherwise a great piece.

LeeTronix

July 28, 2015, 9:55 pm

It is a very nice piece of work I have to agree and I think the analysis is superb and written with a lot of thoughtful process. It is factual and also lets the reader think about what the capabilities are so in this regard an excellent article. Maybe I should give more credit where credit is due and it is despite things :)

Dead Words

July 28, 2015, 11:28 pm

I believe the score is accurate. I would put it as a high 8, but I'm not sure at this point Windows 10 deserves a 9/10 overall.

betelgeuse

July 29, 2015, 2:50 am

Ran it for a couple of months gone back to windows 8,I probably will upgrade when all my apps run on it properly.my only question is,will it keep all apps or will I have to reinstall,I don't fancy reinstalling some 300 games.

Jedibeeftrix

July 29, 2015, 8:07 am

"That said, the constant pressure to sign up to a Microsoft account and get involved in all its cloud services is something that some users just won’t be interested in. The fact that you can’t even use the Mail and Calendar apps without a Microsoft account is positively shocking. It’s not that you can’t use the system in a more offline way, but Microsoft does like to pester you if you do."

This is the key to whether I use Windows 10 or not; I have no interest in first-party apps like Mail and Calendar, I simply want a solid platform without a 'relationship' with Microsoft.

Exactly how irritating is running Windows 10 without a Microsoft account as a long term solution, if I am content to do without their first party apps?

Ed

July 29, 2015, 10:08 am

The upgrade process should keep the majority of apps and files. As always, though, be sure to back everything up just in case.

Ed

July 29, 2015, 10:10 am

Thanks. Andy and I put a lot of work into it so glad to hear it's appreciated.

LeeTronix

July 29, 2015, 10:41 am

Anytime it showed how much effort you put into it.

sat_dev

July 29, 2015, 10:50 am

Not a single thing will be removed, upgrading experience in windows 10 is the best in Microsoft history.

Prem Desai

July 29, 2015, 1:01 pm

LOL!

At least you have the option to install another client or use web mail services.

Try using ANY Apple device without an Apple account - I dare you ...!!

John

July 29, 2015, 4:49 pm

I've had my laptop on all day but why isn't the stupid thing automatically installing Windows 10? All my Windows updates are already up to date, I previously reserved Windows 10 when prompted, and I'm running 8.1 but when I click on 'Check for Update' there's no sign of Windows 10 coming down the internet pipes....Help!!!

RonRoyce

July 29, 2015, 7:37 pm

Well it's 8:30pm and I'm still waiting for the download to start...

One question I do have:- I wish to clean install to a new SSD, currently my Win7 install is on another drive. I assume this will be possible?

Dan Murphy

July 29, 2015, 8:21 pm

If you go here

https://www.microsoft.com/e...

You dont have to wait

aunty

July 29, 2015, 9:56 pm

You pay for it my friend. How where you expecting to get an operating system for it?

Mangap

July 30, 2015, 6:29 am

How big is Windows 10 installation after upgrade ?
i hope it did not leave too many junk

LaRocky

July 30, 2015, 8:58 am

'Edge is also easier to use on touch-enabled laptops and hybrids' - I disagree with this. While the interface is tons better than touch IE, there are no gestures in Edge. Also, some sites via touch are broken like Google Maps. You can't scroll around or anything. And performance is hit or miss. On Zillow, it's horrific. While Edge is a great start, it has a ways to go.

mark choletti

July 30, 2015, 1:23 pm

Windows Update (on a Windows 7 desktop) had already failed one Windows 10 upgrade attempt with me yesterday, throwing up an error message with a string of C1900208 or other, so I downloaded Microsoft's MediaCreationTool64 and the resulting Win 10 iso file. After resolving the software incompatibility problems and a dead desktop -- nothing on screen wanted to click -- I found out that Windows 10 hadn't been activated. It appears to be a common problem, and one joker at a forum said if you keep on pressing the activate button, it will eventually activate somewhere between 20 and 40 clicks. I tried it anyway, and after the 15th click Windows 10 finally activated. I guess M$'s activation servers were massively overwhelmed yesterday.

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