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Windows 10 Fall Creators Update: 7 Things to Check Out

SEATTLE—At Microsoft's annual developer conference here, we got a first look at the next major update of the Windows 10 operating system.

Windows 10 Bug ArtOne surprising theme is how intent Microsoft is on having its desktop OS work in concert with non-Microsoft devices like iPhones and Androids, but a visual design refresh also looms large.

Average users should probably wait until the OS launches later this year, though tech-savvy enthusiasts can sign up for the Windows Insiders program to see a preliminary version. Whichever camp you're in, here's a quick take on the top new features that will show up in Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.

Fluent Design System

This interface refresh not only adds a bit of transparency to windows, but also refreshes lighting, depth, motion, materials, scale, and typography. The point is not just to pretty up the interface, but to help you use the computer more effectively. For example, the depth effect, similar to bokeh in photography, lets you focus on the task at hand. And some elements will make it clear they support touch or pen input.

Timeline

This feature will present on-screen cards showing recent and past activity, and, like several new features in Fall Creators, will work across your devices. Any Android or iOS device can include apps that talk to the Microsoft Graph, which then informs your PC about an activity to which you may want to return.

Windows 10 Fall Creators Update Timeline

Cloud-Powered Clipboard

Similar to Timeline, the new Clipboard lets you work among Windows and non-Windows devices. For example, the SwiftKey and Word Flow keyboards are Microsoft Graph-aware, so if you're entering text on your PC, you can simply paste it inside wherever you're typing on the phone. Office apps, too, will get a smarter Clipboard panel that can even show previously copied images.

Windows 10 Fall Creators Update Cloud-Powered Clipboard

Pick Up Where You Left Off

The name says it all. But note that this is also cross-platform and makes use of Cortana. For example, if you were working on a Word document on your iPhone or Android device or browsing a site, Cortana can pop up a notification asking if you want to continue on your PC—and vice versa. The feature also works with apps and websites. Microsoft even added a top-level icon in the Settings app to help you get this mobile integration working.

My People

This one was first announced for the original Creators Update that launched last summer, but didn't make it into the final version. It will finally make its debut in the Fall Creators Update, letting you pin icons for your favorite contacts for easy sharing and communicating via multiple channels and apps.

Windows 10 Creators Update

OneDrive Files on Demand

This addresses one of the more contentious topics among Microsoft watchers. In earlier Windows versions, OneDrive presented what were known as placeholders, in File Explorer, for every single file you had stored in OneDrive. In more recent versions, you have to choose exactly which folders you wanted synced. With Fall Creators Update, Microsoft has sort of brought back placeholders, but in a more powerful and integrated way.

OneDrive Files on Demand

OneDrive Files on Demand will show all your files in File Explorer, but they'll be marked with status icons indicating where they live. So a file that's only in the cloud will, logically, show a cloud icon, while one that's been synced will show a green check mark. It's similar to some online backup services, but more integrated into the system.

Story Remix

This isn't actually a built-in Windows feature but rather a new app that shows off some Fall Creators Update capabilities. Story Remix can intelligently craft a video show for you using the Microsoft Graph. It lets you do things like changing the video to be about one of your contacts or adding 3D objects from Remix3D.com. Microsoft showed a very cool demo of a 3D fireball object actually following a soccer ball and exploding at the goal. Story Remix also lets you write on top of video, and your writing can follow an object in the movie. For more, see my hands on with Story Remix at Build.

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