All About Windows 10 Fall Creators Update
On Tuesday, October 17, 2017, Microsoft will release the next version of Windows 10 – the Fall Creators Update, also known as version 1709. This is a follow-on upgrade from the Anniversary Update (1607) and the original Creators Update (1703) that came out earlier in 2017.
To confirm whether or not a machine has been upgraded to the Fall Creators Update, go to Settings > System > About and check the number next to OS Build. It should be 16299.15 if the machine is running the Fall Creators Update.
What Updates Does the Fall Creators Update Contain?
This is a major upgrade – there are new features, and fixes. Considering that the previous version (Creators Update) was version 1703, and this one is 1709 though, it’s probably as not as big a leap as it was from Anniversary update (1607) to Creators (1703). Here’s a list of updates, but this is not exhaustive:
- Windows Shell updates. What’s the Windows Shell? That’s the Start menu, the Action Center, the Taskbar, and File Explorer. There’s a lot of new little improvements and changes to make it all easier to use, and more helpful. Having said that, there’s no fundamental changes to how these operate.
- OneDrive Files On-Demand is a great new file sharing feature for those that use Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage service. In File Explorer, On-Demand lets you see all your OneDrive files in the cloud, even if they aren’t downloaded to your machine. Click one to open it, and it will be downloaded on the fly. This is a great way to work with a large OneDrive account on a disk space constrained machine.
- My People Hub – A new feature intended to make it easier to communicate with your friends, family, and business contacts.
- Story Remix – A new feature of the Photos app will offer a new way to edit your photos and video into exciting video clips.
- Timeline will let you start work on one device, and seamlessly pick up where you left off on another. Stay tuned for details on how this will work.
- Microsoft Edge, the web browser that is the successor to Internet Explorer, receives stability updates, a new favorites (bookmarks) system, better PDF and EPUB (book and document formats) handling, and some other updates.
- New Emojis – of course.
- Cortana Improvements – Microsoft’s voice assistant technology receives better integration and tweaks for usability.
- Mixed Reality – Support for enhanced reality or alternate reality programs and games will be coming – after the developers have embraced the new features enabled in this update.
- Various pen input improvements and keyboard tweaks.
- The Settings screen receives many improvements, including easier view of overall system health (virus protection, network protection status, etc.)
- Security improvements and bug fixes.
- And a lot more. There’s a lot of little updates in many areas – gaming, security, performance, etc. A complete list of the tweaks and changes can be found at ChangeWindows.
There are some features and improvements that will be of interest to Information Technology and security professionals:
- The SMBv1 Protocol server is no longer enabled, or installed, on “clean” installs. SMBv1, a network file sharing protocol, is riddled with security problems and issues. Good riddance. The current version, SMB 3.0, is much, much improved. This also means the legacy Computer Browser service goes away.
- New Exploit Protection options in Windows Defender Security Center. There are several new options for Exploit Protection. These new features offer most of the mitigations that were previously part of the Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit ,or EMET.
- Controlled Folders is a new anti-ransomware feature and is available via the Windows Defender Security Center. When enabled, only approved apps can access the Windows system files and data folders. You can also customize the list of data folders and whitelist specific apps, if there are compatibility issues. As any IT pro knows, ransomware with it’s potential for financial gain by criminals, is an ever present threat.
- Windows Defender Application Guard is a security feature that uses Hyper-V virtualization to create sandboxed browser sessions using Microsoft Edge. At the moment, it is only available in Enterprise edition. That’s a shame, because virtualized browser sessions show great promise to close down some of the most egregious malware vectors. On the other hand, Microsoft needs features exclusive to Enterprise edition – otherwise businesses would use Pro.
- Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) is now easily accessible without developer mode being enabled.
How to Install Windows 10 Fall Creators Update Immediately
This next big upgrade to Windows will start gradually rolling out this week (10/17/2017). But it may take months for your machine to receive it (Microsoft will decide when to offer the upgrade). Want to evaluate it now or otherwise can’t wait? Here’s how to install it now using the Windows 10 Update Assistant:
- First, go to Windows Update and ensure you have the latest Cumulative Update, and any other updates outstanding.
- Go to the Download Windows 10 page.
- A message appears that “Windows 10 Fall Creators Update now available”. Click “Update Now” (Assuming you are browsing the website with the machine you desire to upgrade).
- A 6 MB File will be downloaded, the “Windows 10 Upgrader”.
- Allow the app to “make changes to your device” when prompted
- The “Windows 10 Update Assistant” may need updating, and then the upgrade process will begin.
It’s also possible to create installation media to perform the upgrade. Choose the “Download tool now” option further down the page to run the media creation tool. This is the option to use if you are upgrading multiple machines, or a machine other than the one you are using now.
Please also note that if you had wanted to preview the upgrade prior to now, you’d have had to use the Windows Insider program. This is no longer necessary, as the software is now released. If you do sign up for the Windows Insider now, be aware you’ll be receiving updates for the next version of Windows 10, whatever that will be. You may not want to be on the cutting edge, so we definitely do not recommend this option for getting Fall Creators update at this point in time.
Should I Upgrade to Fall Creators Update?
For a home user, generally speaking, yes. Microsoft rolls out major Feature Updates such as this in a gradual, controlled process. That’s meant to enhance the compatibility, stability, and overall experience the end user encounters. While Anniversary Update was plagued with some issues, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and assume the process is improved.
For a business, I always recommend caution with major upgrades. There’s no features in this upgrade that are likely to be business critical, for your business. Let others find the bugs, and take a cautious approach. It’s also possible your key business applications have an incompatibility with this release (as with any upgrade) – so give the vendors time to update their software. You may want to use the Current Branch for Business methodology to only take the upgrade when it is “approved for broad use by organizations”.
What If I Don’t Want Fall Creators Update? How Do I Stop the Upgrade?
There’s not really a way to stop it forever, but you can delay the upgrade. The method you would use depends on which Edition (Home, Pro, or Enterprise) you are using and also the version (1607 or 1703, etc.). It’s a complex topic. This article from Computer World details the options.
A Little Underwhelming? All Part of The Plan…
After having perused the feature list, you may be feeling a bit underwhelmed. But understand this is all part of Microsoft’s new plan – rather than a few big and complicated releases every couple of years, Windows upgrades are now a more frequent, iterative process. It’s less change to have to deal with, and less complexity. It also ensures that Windows users get new features and benefit sooner. You can expect there will be a spring and fall update to Windows 10 every year, for the next few years.
What If I’m on Windows 7 or Windows 8?
If you are on Windows 7 or Windows 8, you are not going to be upgraded automatically. The free upgrade to Windows 10 program ended a long time ago, but it also seems that it is still possible to upgrade to Windows 10 for free – if you rely on the assistive technologies in Windows. To do this, go to this web page and click “Upgrade Now”.
Also, you should be aware that Windows 7 and 8 won’t be supported forever. They will come to End Of Life (EOL) soon (relatively speaking). And at that time, they will no longer receive security updates. This is exactly the case with Windows Vista, XP, and Windows Server 2003 at this point in time. Whether you are a home user, or a business, you should plan to get on Windows 10 before the product you are currently using goes EOL. Windows 7 goes EOL in 2020, and Windows 8 in 2023.