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Windows 10 Fall Creators Update review: This could be Microsoft’s biggest Windows yet

Update 10/18/2017: The Windows 10 Fall Creators Update is available, and you can download it now. Otherwise, Microsoft will automatically push the FCU to all PCs in a series of waves that should last for a few weeks. 

Microsoft’s Windows 10 Fall Creators Update is what every sequel shoots for: bigger, better, more ambitious than the original. As it rolls out in phases starting Tuesday (see Microsoft’s blog post for details), our review focuses on Windows’ big, risky bet on mixed reality, plus smarter investments in the pen, creative 3D apps, Edge, and even speech. A ton of practical, everyday additions won us over, including OneDrive placeholders and much longer battery life while watching movies.

Taking a page from Apple’s playbook, Microsoft has also chosen to synchronize the Fall Creators Update with new hardware introductions. The upcoming Surface Book 2, mixed-reality devices from a handful of partners, the Harman/Kardon Invoke, and the Xbox One X populate a hardware/software ecosystem that’s a cohesive whole.

If Microsoft wins its big bet on mixed reality, the Fall Creators Update could be a nearly five-star release. For now, we think there’s enough here to merit our four-star review score. Feel free to explore it all using the table-of-contents links to the left. Many key features of the Fall Creators Update also merited deeper dives, so in addition to our briefer assessments here we’ve created separate stories, listed below.

cortana expands Windows 10 Fall Creators Update Mark Hachman / IDG

Cortana doesn’t have as many new tricks as in years past, but she will bring up a window of search results, rather than call on Edge to reply. You can use Cortana to lock or even turn off your PC. You can also train her to listen only for your voice, to ward off pranksters.

Where the fun starts: Story Remix, Mixed Reality Viewer, and Paint 3D

We could begin with Microsoft’s massive bets on new platforms, like mixed reality—but those are also its biggest question marks. Let’s talk instead about three successes within the Fall Creators Update: Photos (Story Remix), Mixed Reality Viewer, and Paint 3D’s new Magic Select tool. 

Think of the trio as a wealth of fun possibilities. The Photos app remains an excellent basic photo editor, but from there, you choose: Should that photo be part of a photo and video slideshow with Story Remix, with music, transitions, and even 3D objects? Would it work better as a texture for a 3D object within Paint 3D? Wouldn’t that 3D object look great superimposed on a real-life scene within Mixed Reality Viewer…that you could record as a photo? 

Story Remix: How to turn your photos into slideshows

As soon as a Microsoft presenter transformed a soccer ball into an exploding meteor, Story Remix became the most anticipated app of the Fall Creators Update. But it’s not an app; instead, Story Remix is sort of an alternate path within Photos. Story Remix can take a selection of photos and videos and create an album, or turn them into an algorithmically generated movie, or let you take total control and add fun 3D effects.

layout page Mark Hachman / IDG

The main slideshow editing page of Story Remix.

Some differences between Photos and Photos (Story Remix) feel forced. Your Photos are now stored in a searchable Collection tab that needs to be indexed when you first open it. Once there, you can select photos to create an album, or tap Story Remix to make a Video Remix, automatically trimming them and adding music and transitions. Microsoft may be overzealous in its curation, slicing minutes’ worth of video down to just a few seconds in some cases. If you don’t like the results, you can click the big Remix button and let it try again.


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