Microsoft released the Windows 10 Creators Update this week that includes several new features that will improve the overall user experience. Unfortunately, the Creators Update also creates new concerns; ranging from changes to your privacy settings, changes to your default applications, and the fact that Microsoft will now collect a wide range of information that may include personally identifiable data.
Windows 10 Creators Update: Best New Features
Start Menu Improvements. One of the first things most people will notice about the Creators Update is that the new Start menu allows you to group tiles into folders. Not only that, but you can resize folders or hide them altogether so that your least-used apps take up less space on the screen.
You can also hide the app list in the Start Menu under Windows Settings > Personalization > Start > Show app list in Start menu (Off). The next time you open the Start menu, you’ll just see your tiles and folders … no more list of apps that fills 20 percent of your screen.
Windows Defender Security Center. Although Windows Defender has been a perfectly adequate anti-virus solution in Windows 10, the reality is that many other important security settings weren’t directly tied to Windows Defender. Creators Update solves that problem by moving all security features into a single interface called the Windows Defender Security Center.
Now you only have to open one Window to access virus and threat protection, device performance and health, firewall and network protection, app & browser control, and family options. Microsoft has now positioned Windows Defender Security Center to be a direct replacement for third party security apps by placing all the anti-virus and security settings under a single interface.
Improved Troubleshooting. In the same way that Microsoft bundled all of the protection and security features into Windows Defender Security Center, the company made it much easier to troubleshoot problems by creating a single menu to help users fix (or at least diagnose) just about anything.
The new Troubleshoot section of Windows Settings (Windows Settings > Update & Security > Troubleshoot) covers everything from internet connection errors and Bluetooth problems to printer malfunctions and audio problems.
Game Mode. Microsoft has been trying to bring Xbox and Windows users together since the first introduction of the Xbox app, but the all new Game Mode (Windows key + G) takes things a step closer by prioritizing your game over any background processes. This not only helps with in-game performance (delivering more stable frame rates) but it also prevents background applications from creating any pop-ups that might break your game or interfere with your in-game controls.
Night light. Many people are aware that evidence suggests blue light from electronic displays causes the human brain to believe it’s daytime; thus viewing screens before bedtime can ruin your sleep. Microsoft addresses this concern in Creators Update with Night Light (Windows Settings > Night light settings). This feature warms the color temperature of the screen to make it appear more orange than blue. You can set Night Light to trigger automatically at sunset until sunrise or manually set the hours. Just be aware that you might want to deactivate this setting if you’re editing photos after sunset or if you plan to enjoy some late night Netflix binging.
Windows 10 Creators Update: Problems and Privacy Concerns
Resetting all your default apps. Microsoft made a rather bold choice to reset all of the default applications on Windows PCs with the Creators Update. It doesn’t matter if you previously set Google Chrome as your default browser; when you reboot for the first time with Creators Update your default browser is Microsoft Edge. The same applies for the default app settings for email, music player, photo viewer, and video player. Cortana will also be reactivated even if you previously disabled Cortana. This isn’t just annoying for consumers, it’s a serious headache for workplace IT departments if your business doesn’t already use Microsoft software for everything.
Microsoft wants to know everything about you. Privacy was already a major concern for many consumers and businesses using Windows 10 after the discovery that Microsoft uses the new OS to collect a massive amount of data about every user. The Creators Update doesn’t do much to address that concern.
Microsoft has finally published documents detailing what is included with Windows 10 data collection, but that list still includes data that is tied to your device ID and your OneDrive user ID. The data collected is also tied to your IMEI (International Mobile Station Equipment Identity) number if your device uses a broadband network connection (such as a paired smartphone or broadband modem with a SIM card) … meaning that all the data that Microsoft collects is potentially personally identifiable if someone accesses this data along with data from OneDrive or your network service provider.
Creators Update does allow you to opt-in to one of two different tiers of data collection (“Full” or “Basic”) if you want to try to limit the amount of information that Microsoft collects about you and what you’re doing. Unfortunately, Creators Update automatically sets the data collection to “Full” by default when you boot your system for the first time. Creators Update does not offer the option to “opt out” of all data collection and we suspect many users would appreciate the choice to completely disable data collection.