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Windows 10 Creators Update review: Microsoft adds fun to its flagship OS

Microsoft’s Windows 10 Creators Update offers the most significant upgrade to Windows 10 since its launch, splashing a bright, cheery coat of fun over Windows 10’s productivity foundation. 

Microsoft announced Wednesday morning that this free upgrade will begin rolling out to existing users as soon as April 11. New users will need to pay $120 for Windows 10 Home or $200 for Windows 10 Pro—remember, Windows 10 itself is no longer free. Insiders already have the Creators Update, as the company also confirmed Wednesday, and we used the Insider build to write this review. 

It’s worth the upgrade. The Creators Update adds numerous new capabilities that Windows previously lacked. Check out Microsoft’s renewed commitment to PC gaming. Try the new, creative twists on Windows Ink (no stylus required—a mouse or touchpad will do), including the ability to write on videos (yes, videos) and maps. Take a second look at Microsoft’s Swiss Army knife, its Edge browser, which now offers 4K Netflix, ebooks, and more. Even Cortana has learned new tricks.

Microsoft’s 3D vision is missing a key portion, and that’s a shame. Still, it doesn’t matter if you can barely draw a stickman, or own an aging PC with a three-button mouse—Microsoft made the Creators Update accessible to everyone, though you’ll certainly enjoy it more with a touchscreen and stylus. 

IDG / Mark Hachman

Setting up the Windows 10 Creators Update is now a pleasant, voice-driven experience with the cheery Cortana.

A cool new experience from the get-go

If you’re upgrading to a new PC equipped with the Windows 10 Creators Update, the new Cortana-driven, out-of-the-box experience (OOBE) is a charming introduction. Narrated almost exclusively by the actress Jen Taylor as Cortana, the OOBE is now voice-driven and almost entirely hands-free, orally asking you to agree to using Cortana, Windows’ default privacy settings, and the like. In all, the setup process took me about four minutes. You still have the freedom to toggle off targeted ads and other options, though Windows will immediately suggest a reason why you shouldn’t.

IDG / Mark Hachman

The Windows OOBE includes a streamlined privacy setup process. If you want to dig in later, the Settings Privacy menu offers tons of options.

You’ll also notice a few thoughtful touches while bringing your PC up to speed. Adding a Logitech mouse to my testbed prompted Windows to search out Logitech’s associated software. Device setup now takes place behind the scenes, so Windows will notify you that you can use a new device within just a second or two. I also like how the Creators Update adjusts your display resolution or monitor setup automatically instead of asking you to approve the process. 

IDG / Mark Hachman

I just happened to have my camera ready to capture the new Windows Hello experience, as part of the Windows setup process. It’s fast!

And then there’s the “oh, wow!” moments: Windows Hello and Themes. Setting up facial authentication is done almost before you’re aware it’s taken place. Recognition is almost instantaneous, too. (I just wish there were a consistent way to sign in to multiple Microsoft services at once. Cortana offered to sign me into “all Microsoft apps” within Windows, but it didn’t take.)

IDG / Mark Hachman

Boring Windows desktops are a thing of the past with Windows 10 Creators Update’s new Themes.

Do not overlook Themes, either. For too long Windows has been shackled to generic default backgrounds. With the new Themes packs inside the Windows Store, you can get a glorious nature- (or cat-) inspired background, including optional sounds. Windows even displays different backgrounds on different monitors.

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