Monday, May 16, 2022
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Windows 10 Mobile Creators Update review: The future is increasingly uncertain

Microsoft’s Windows 10 Mobile Creators Update rides the coattails of the desktop OS, heavily leaning on improvements in Cortana and Edge to nudge Microsoft’s nearly comatose mobile platform further ahead.

As the free upgrade rolls out Tuesday, our review of the Creators Update can’t help but conclude that it’s even less of an improvement than the Windows 10 Mobile Anniversary Update. We can tell you that Windows’ new ability to buy and read ebooks within Edge represents its most potent addition. You can turn off a screen while using Continuum, a tweak that better approximates the PC experience. Cortana’s slightly smarter, as she is on the desktop. You can also pause updates, view the Glance screen while charging and enjoy a limited but refreshingly simple 3D content creation app, 3D Builder. 

In the end, though, you have to wonder whether it matters. Windows 10 Mobile is in limbo, struggling for relevance even within the most devoted Windows communities. Microsoft’s most recent mobile hardware announcement involved an Android phone, of all things. Recent Insider builds have been moved off of the development track used by the PC, into their own “feature2” track. Microsoft still says it’s committed to Windows Mobile. But without any evidence to justify the claim, most users basically wrote off Windows 10 Mobile long ago.

Setup, Settings take their cue from the PC

In total, thirteen phones are eligible for the Windows 10 Mobile Creators Update: a handful of Lumias (the 550, 640/640XL, 650, and 950/950XL), two Alcatel phones (the IDOL 4S and OneTouch Fierce XL), the HP Elite x3, and a few others. That leaves many legacy Lumias out in the cold, along with Acer’s Liquid Jade Primo from 2016. Microsoft said these phones can be enrolled within the Release Preview ring of the Windows Insider program to remain somewhat current.  

Windows 10 Mobile Creators Update privacy settings Mark Hachman / IDG

Microsoft provides a quick overview of privacy options during setup.

I have a number of phones running Windows 10 Mobile, but I primarily used a Lumia 950 and a lower-end Lumia 640 to test, using the Windows Insider program in advance of the formal rollout.

Installing the Creators Update on a new PC involves going through a rather nifty voice-driven “out of the box experience” using Cortana. Updating to the Creators Update on Mobile, however, involves just the normal process of downloading the update and letting Windows do its thing.

Cortana may not be part of Windows 10 Mobile’s setup process, but four of the privacy toggles available on the desktop now appear before the Creators Update finishes installing. They allow you to choose whether Windows will track your location, recognize your voice, send back diagnostic data to Microsoft, and supply targeted ads. 

The Settings menu also provides the detailed, granular privacy settings the PC does, in case you want to adjust them later. In fact, that holds true for most of the Settings: The nicely redone Bluetooth menu takes its cues from the PC, as does the general Devices page, for example.


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