10 hidden features in the new Windows 10 Creators Update

windows 10 hidden revealed

Microsoft’s big Windows 10 refresh, the Creators Update, is slated for release on April 11, bringing new features, enhancements and applications. The ones that have been getting the most attention revolve around the user interface (tweaks to the Start Menu), new capabilities for Cortana, and 3D design (the Paint 3D app).

But Microsoft is also adding several under-the-covers changes that may not be as showy, but are equally important. They affect the underlying way that the OS works, and how you may use it on a more technical level. Here are 10 that you should be aware of.

1. Snooze button for dreaded Windows updates

Windows 10 can unexpectedly ask the user to restart their computer in order to install an update to the OS. Users complained to Microsoft of this happening at a time when it wasn't convenient, like when they were in the midst of working. So the Creators Update gives you a new option. In the prompt notifying that you have a new Windows 10 update, there is a “Snooze” button. Clicking this will hold off installing the update for three days.

The old option that lets you set a timed delay for is still available and the Creators Update extends this maximum delay from 12 hours to 18 hours.

2. High-res display for desktop apps

The last Windows 10 update, the Anniversary Update, improved the sharpness of graphics and text scaled up on computers and tablets with displays that have high DPI. The Creators Update implements this to the text of desktop applications running on a device with a high-resolution display, like Microsoft’s Surface Book.

This feature is enabled by default for some desktop applications that come with Windows 10. It can be turned on manually for other applications. Right-click an application’s *.exe file and select “Properties” from the menu. Click the “Compatibility” tab and turn on “System (Enhanced) DPI scaling.”

3. Improved system stability

The Creators Update uses more of the available memory in a Windows 10 computer, if your device has 3.5GB or more of RAM. In an odd way, this is actually a good thing that should improve system security and stability. Microsoft originally designed Windows such that service host processes were grouped together to conserve memory. (These processes appear as svchost.exe under the Task Manager.) The Creators Update ungroups these processes on computers with enough memory. Thus, a process crashing won’t take down other processes that otherwise would be grouped with it. Security measures can also be assigned to an individual process.

4. Privacy settings simplified

Ever since its release, Windows 10 has been criticized for how it handles user privacy. Basically, it can be confusing to figure out what the OS shares about your activity to Microsoft, and how you can limit this. Microsoft promised to simplify things. As the Creators Update installs, you’re shown a panel that lets you turn off up to five switches tied to the kind of activity you’re willing to share with Microsoft when you use Windows 10. These switches are organized under the categories “Location,” “Speech Recognition,” “Diagnostics,” “Tailored experiences with diagnostic data,” and “Relevant Ads.”

5. New address bar for Registry Editor

The average Windows 10 user won’t ever touch the Registry Editor. But this addition is important for power users who want to poke around the OS’s inner workings. The Registry Editor now has an address bar. It shows the branching path of the registry entry you’ve selected to edit or examine. The pathway for a registry entry is usually long so, using the previous version of Registry Editor, it was difficult to keep track of where the entry was located. This is an obvious feature that Microsoft should have put into Registry Editor long ago.

6. Easier to restrict unauthorized apps

The Creators Update can restrict unauthorized apps from installing on your computer. (Android and MacOS already have a similar function.) This feature appears in the Settings app under “Apps & Features.” There’s now the option: “Choose where apps can be installed from.” Its first two settings allow apps that are not downloaded from the Windows Store to be installed on your computer. The third only lets apps downloaded from the Windows Store be installed.

7. Annoying updates are now less annoying

The Creators Update implements a technology Microsoft calls the Unified Update Platform to the Windows Update tool. It should make updating your Windows 10 computer less time consuming, since it can identify the specific changes to Windows 10 that your computer needs and downloads just those. So your computer will not need to download a larger package of updates. This can reduce the size of Windows updates by 35%, saving storage space on your computer as well.

8. Easier troubleshooting

Troubleshooters are tools built into Windows that help diagnose and fix issues you’re having with your computer or the OS. They’ve been moved from the Control Panel to the Settings app (located under its “Update & security” category). New Troubleshooters have also been added to the Creators Update.

9. Windows Defender enhanced

The built-in malware scanner that comes with Windows 10 has a new look and tools. The Creators Update upgrades Windows Defender with sensors that detect intrusions into your computer’s memory and the OS kernel. (Microsoft says they have already been using this to prevent zero-day attacks on Windows.) As an attack unfolds over an office network, you can ban files from the network, isolate an infected computer, kill and quarantine a program, or retrieve forensic evidence from an infected computer.

10. Windows PowerShell replaces Command Prompt

The Creators Update demotes the classic Command Prompt. The more powerful Windows PowerShell is now the default tool for typing command lines. Right-click the Start Menu (or press the Windows logo and “X” keys), select “Command Prompt” from the menu that opens, and it's PowerShell that loads. Typing “cmd” in the Cortana search box will also load PowerShell.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

The 10 most powerful companies in enterprise networking 2022