Microsoft has officially released the second major update to Windows 10, the Creators Update. Much like the Anniversary Update that came before it, the Creators Update brings many improvements, from better high-DPI scaling to new privacy settings that have to be set before you can use the update.
The name implies that Microsoft also wanted this update to appeal to creative users, so how does the Creators Update actually do to help you make things?
Well, Microsoft seems to have a pretty narrow definition of “creator.” The most notable additions to the Creators Update are the Paint 3D modelling tool and Beam live-streaming service. Both are now built into Windows 10, which should make it easier for you to dabble with 3D modelling or game streaming if other apps never appealed to you, but the Creators Update otherwise appears devoid of meaningful updates for creators--even those interested in the Windows Mixed Reality initiative.
Windows 10 did already feature some creative tools, Paint and Audio Recorder, but that was the extent of the built-in options. That pales in comparison to what Apple offers macOS users. iMovie handles video editing; GarageBand lets you record and edit music, podcasts, and other audio; Pages, Numbers, and Keynote stand in for Word, Excel, and Powerpoint; and QuickTime Player enables screen recordings, among other things.
Microsoft and Apple have different business models, of course, but that’s still quite the discrepancy between what you can create with the built-in tools in Windows 10 and macOS. (This is not to mention Windows 10’s problems with scaling and font rendering, both of which can make even the simple act of writing something less comfortable than on macOS.) The idea is that Apple customers get free software in exchange for overpaying for hardware.
Which is funny, because Microsoft announced just yesterday that developers have added support for the Surface Dial, a $100 peripheral meant to complement the $3,000+ Surface Studio, to their apps. This will make it easier for you to draw things or remix music--provided you fork over the money for the necessary hardware. Sound familiar? It should; the only difference here is that you also have to pay for the software to go with it.
It didn’t have to be this way. Microsoft previously offered Windows Movie Maker as a sort of iMovie alternative. The app wasn’t the most capable video editor on the block, sure, but you could use it for home videos and other simple flicks all the same. A support page used to say that a new version of Windows Movie Maker was headed to Windows 10, but that text has been removed, which suggests it was delayed or canceled.
Microsoft also seemed to be working on its answer to GarageBand with Groove Music Maker. This could’ve been huge--GarageBand doesn’t have a counterpart built right into Windows 10, and if Groove Music Maker was similarly versatile, it could’ve appealed to musicians, podcasters, narrators, and many other creators who use sound as their medium. There are free audio recording and software products available for Windows 10, of course, but the only one built into the operating system is Audio Recorder, and it pales in comparison to its macOS competitor. But even though it appeared in a teaser video, Groove Music Maker was never even officially announced.
The Mixed Reality Bump?
XR enthusiasts might also be disappointed by the Creators Update. Microsoft demoed a Windows Capture 3D tool--which would have made it easy to capture 3D images and edit them in Paint 3D--in October 2016. That tool is nowhere to be found in the Creators Update. Windows Mixed Reality is also limited to developers; XR headsets aren’t yet available to the public, and Microsoft bundles Windows Mixed Reality development tools with the Windows 10 SDK used to create apps for the desktop operating system. Devs will likely welcome Windows Mixed Reality’s slow but steady rollout, but the tools aren’t any closer to reaching consumers with the Creators Update than they were before.
Windows Movie Maker and Groove Music Maker alone would’ve gone a long way towards helping the Creators Update live up to its name. That isn’t to say that the update is pointless; we’ve appreciated many of the changes it brings to Windows 10. It’s just weird that Microsoft called it the Creators Update when Game Mode, a picture-in-picture feature, and other improvements make it better for content consumption than creation.
The iterative nature of Windows 10 means Microsoft could introduce those apps--or other creative tools--pretty much whenever it pleases. But at least for today, unless you’re dying for a built-in 3D modelling app or alternative to existing live-streaming platforms, you might as well leave the “creators” out of it and just consider it a capital letter Windows 10 Update.
How To Get It
Microsoft is rolling out the Creators Update in stages. The update is expected to take several months to reach all compatible devices. If you want to guarantee access to the features and improvements debuting today, you’ll have to download the Windows 10 Update Assistant from Microsoft’s website. Otherwise, you can wait for the company to send you a notification asking you to look over your privacy settings and install the Creators Update.