Following months of testings with Windows Insiders, Microsoft officially announced its plans for the rollout of the Windows 10 Creators Update today. This new release will be the first major feature update for Windows 10 this year, succeeding to Threshold 2 (version 1511) back in November 2015 and the Anniversary Update last summer.
If you followed the news about this new major release, you may know that the Creators Update brings many interface improvements, a better Cortana, new features for gamers and more. For a quick recap, we invite you to check our top five favorite new features in this new version.
As expected, Microsoft will start rolling out the Creators Update to select PCs starting April 11, and it may take a couple of months for everyone to receive the new bits. The update will also be available for Windows 10 Mobile, the Xbox One and HoloLens headsets and we should have more information about these other rollouts in the coming days.
But now that the Creators Update is almost upon us, it's time to think about what's coming next for Windows 10 users. Last month, Microsoft confirmed that there is another major Windows 10 update coming this year after the Creators Update, and we already have some details about what to expect with "Redstone 3". Let's dive into the details below.
During its Windows 10 event in October, Microsoft introduced a new feature called My People which will give Windows 10 users a faster way to connect with their favourite contacts. The company explained at the time that it will be possible to pin favorite contacts to the Windows 10 task bar and drag and drop any content on the thumbnails to share anything via email, Skype, etc. You can see how it works in the image below.
Unfortunately, the "My People" experience didn't make it to the Creators Update as it's still not fully baked. Back in January, Microsoft explained that "we’ve made the decision to hold this feature for the next major update to Windows." As a result, we very much expect to see My People being introduced with Redstone 3 later this year.
We also already know that Microsoft is working on a new design language for Windows 10 codenamed Project Neon. The latest Windows 10 Insider brought previously brought a subset of Project Neon APIs to Windows 10 PCs, and some app developers are already experimenting with it. Overall, Project Neon will bring new animations as well as blurring and transparency effects, adding a new coat of paint on our favourite operating system.
Microsoft has yet to share more details about its new design language, but an improved focus on design will be very much appreciated. In addition to Project Neon, it seems that Microsoft is also working on a "Motion Design language" for its next Xbox One console codenamed Project Scorpio. The company shipped the New Xbox One Experience on the current generation back in 2015, and it's not clear yet if the new design language will be exclusive to Project Scorpio.
A common shell for Windows 10 devices
In addition to My People and Project Neon, Microsoft is reportedly working on a universal Windows shell for PCs, phones, Xbox One consoles and VR headsets. The new project is codenamed "Composable Shell" or "Cshell" and should be especially important for 2-in-1 and 3-in-1 devices Windows 10 devices: indeed, a universal shell suggests that small Windows 10 tablets could switch to an optimized phone UI when necessary, or that Windows 10 Mobile devices could have a more familiar desktop experience when using Continuum (including support for windowed apps and more).
Since Microsoft announced Windows 10, the company highlighted that the new OS is designed to power a vast ecosystem of devices including PCs, tablets, 2-in-1s, phones, Xbox One consoles, VR headsets and even IoT devices. Of course, all of these devices will likely continue to run a version of Windows 10 optimised for their specific form factors, but it's time for Microsoft to put make its Windows Everywhere ambition more concrete. Specifically, the Composable shell could be the killer feature of the rumored Surface Phone, bringing the ability to dynamically switch between a phone UI and a tablet/PC interface.
New Windows 10 SKUs to disrupt the PC market
Last but not least, we learned that Microsoft is working on two new Windows 10 SKUs: the first one is Windows 10 Cloud, which will be a locked down version of Windows 10 that can only runs Windows Store apps. While the new offering may not seem really consumer-friendly, it seems that Redmond will market Windows 10 Cloud as a more secure version of Windows 10, something that will likely appeal to the education market where Microsoft is currently struggling against Chromebooks. Windows 10 Cloud is also expected to be much cheaper (it would even make sense to make it free for OEMs) than full Windows 10, but the OS will still be able to run Win32 apps from the Windows Store.
Back in December, Microsoft also announced another Windows 10 SKU that could potentially change the PC market as we know it: the company revealed that it's currently working on Windows 10 for ARM devices, which allow OEMs to design lightweight PCs with better battery life and cellular connectivity. Unlike the deprecated Windows RT, PCs running Windows 10 on ARM will be able to run all legacy Win32 apps through emulation, though it remains to be seen if performance could be an issue.
Microsoft said in the announcement that these new devices are expected to be in market "as early as next year," and we think it could make sense for Microsoft to pave the way with a new Surface device. Indeed, Windows 10 on ARM could well be an opportunity for Microsoft to release a successor to the Surface 3, which used an Intel Atom chip and even had a cellular connectivity option.
The future is exciting for Windows 10 users
Microsoft now sees Windows 10 as "a service," which means that all users can expect regular major updates that bring several new capabilities, for free. The Creators Update is definitely a big milestone for the company, but Redstone 3 could do much more to push the Windows 10 ecosystem to the next level. With a consistent design language across devices and a Universal Windows shell, the differences between Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile could gradually disappear. More importantly Windows 10 on ARM could really bring more innovation to the PC market and bridge the gap between traditional laptops and mobile devices.
We're looking forward to learn more about what Microsoft has in the pipeline at Build 2017. Are you excited for Redstone 3 and the new Windows 10 SKUs, and do you think 2017 will be a great year for Windows 10 fans? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.