Software

Windows 10: Ten missed opportunities in the Creators Update

There are some noticeable gaps in Microsoft's latest major update to Windows 10. Here's what should have been included.

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The Windows My People feature was due to be introduced with the Creators Update.

Image: Microsoft

The Creators Update will begin being rolled out to the wider world from April 11.

The update introduces various features for business and home users, but there are also some noticeable gaps in what it delivers.

Here are the promised additions that didn't make it, some long-requested upgrades still not implemented and a couple of missed opportunities to improve the OS.

SEE: Windows 10 Creators Update: The smart person's guide

1. Even more control over updates for Home users

Since Windows 10 launched, Home users have had little choice but to accept the steady stream of updates that Microsoft pushes to Windows 10.

The desire to keep software up to date is understandable, but the upshot is that Home users have limited options if they want to hold off on accepting an update until any bugs have been fixed, with last year's Anniversary Update causing significant problems for some users.

While the Creators Update will let Home users delay installation of updates by repeatedly hitting Snooze, Enterprise/Pro users still have far greater and more convenient control over when updates are applied and how long they can defer them for.

This two tier approach to control over updates seems unfair, with it being relatively easy for non-Home users to sit out upgrading until all of the problems affecting Home users have been ironed out.

2. Fewer ads

What many people consider to be ads have been slowly creeping into Windows 10, a trend that isn't reversed by the Creators Update.

Ads appear in various forms, the Start Menu is populated with links to Windows Store apps and the lockscreen occasionally promotes software from the Store.

Unfortunately, Microsoft seems to be increasing rather than reducing the number of adverts, with notifications now popping up in File Explorer selling Microsoft's OneDrive cloud storage. For its part Microsoft insists these messages are helpful tips, pointing people to services and apps they might be interested in.

3. A browser that can match the competition

Microsoft's Edge browser gets some useful new features with the Creators Update, such as the ability to save and set aside tabs so you can resume a browsing session at a later date.

However, much of the appeal of Chrome and Firefox lies in their ability to be extended via third-party add-ons, and on that front the 25 extensions available for Edge is still seriously lacking relative to the competition.

There are also other features standard to major browsers that Edge is missing, such as muting tabs, and certain web apps and sites where performance still struggles.

4. A better desktop from your phone

You can hook your Windows 10 phone to a monitor and keyboard and use it as a desktop PC, but for many the experience falls some way short of running a full desktop.

Unfortunately for those hoping the Creators Update would improve this feature, known as Continuum, it seems like there is little of substance says Steve Kleynhans, research VP with Gartner.

"The thing that I was hoping to see that didn't materialize were some improvements to the UX, particularly enhancements for Continuum on the phone," he said.

"It still is a pretty incomplete and poor facsimile of the desktop experience."

Past complaints about Continuum included only being able to run a single fullscreen app at a time and legacy Windows software not running on devices — something that may be addressed later in the year.

5. Capture 3D scanning

One of the most impressive demonstrations during Microsoft's promotion of the Creators Update was the Capture 3D Experience.

In the demo, a Microsoft employee used a HP X3 handset to create a full-color, 3D scan of a real-world sandcastle, simply by pointing the camera at the castle and walking around it.

While the 3D Capture app looked easy-to-use and polished, Microsoft has since confirmed that the scanning app won't be released with the Creators Update, a notable omission given the update's focus on making it easier to create and consume 3D and "mixed reality" content.

6. My People

Another cornerstone of Microsoft's Creators Update presentation was Windows My People, a feature designed to make it simpler to stay in touch with friends and family and share content with them.

The Windows My People feature allowed users to pin their favorite contacts to the right-hand side of Windows taskbar. Clicking on a pinned contact's face brought up email or Skype messages from only that person, and files could be dragged to that person's face for quick sharing.

Earlier this year, however, Microsoft decided to push My People back to the next major update to Windows 10, in order to satisfy their goal to "deliver experiences you'll love".

7. OneDrive placeholders

There have long been calls for Microsoft to bring back Windows 8.1's OneDrive smart files, placeholders that let users see all of their files stored on OneDrive, whether those files were stored on the device or not.

Last year Microsoft announced the feature is due to be bought back in Windows 10 File Explorer, although it doesn't appear to have made the cut for the Creators Update.

When it is eventually implemented, the feature will work in a similar fashion to Windows 8.1's placeholders, showing users files both stored locally and on OneDrive, allowing them to download files and folders to the device and keep them in sync with OneDrive.

8. Easier dual boot

This may just be a personal gripe, but Windows 10 still refuses to play nicely with Ubuntu on my dual-boot system.

While both operating systems remain accessible from the boot menu, Windows Update fails to work properly, necessitating repairing the bootloader in Windows so the update can take place, before repairing the GRUB bootloader in Ubuntu so both systems are accessible again, which then once again breaks future Windows updates.

A simple way of harmoniously running both systems side-by-side would have been a welcome addition to the Creators Update.

9. A freer Cortana

I find neither Bing nor Microsoft Edge to be the best in class, and would prefer it if Cortana could route queries to Microsoft's competitors.

Technically this would be a backwards step, as Cortana used to be able to search using other browsers and search engines before Microsoft removed the feature last year.

However, clearly there are sound commercial reasons for Microsoft shutting out rivals, and the firm also claims that tying Cortana to Microsoft offerings results in a service that is more reliable and predictable.

10. Automatic storage management

While the Creators Update introduces a feature that automatically deletes unused temporary files that and empties files older than 30 days from the Recycling Bin, Microsoft's OS still lacks some of the nifty features that stop Macs getting clogged up.

Given the integration of OneDrive into Windows 10, it would be nice to have the option of automatically offloading seldom used files to cloud storage, as is the case in macOS.

The Optimize Storage and Store in iCloud setting in macOS can help stop smaller SSDs from filling up and provide an alternative to manually clearing space.

Read more on Windows 10...

About Nick Heath

Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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