The Windows 10 Creators Update — codenamed Redstone 2 — will go live on April 11, 2017. Like other Windows 10 updates, it’s free and includes many new features. It will be released slowly as an Anniversary Update, so it will be several months before Microsoft offers it to everyone.

RELATED: How to get the Windows 10 April 2018 Update now

However, you can upgrade to the Creators Update right now using the official tool from Microsoft. Not sure whether to rush to upgrade? Here is everything you will find inside.

This post was originally written after Microsoft’s October 26, 2016 major event, but has since been updated with features from the final release.

3D for everyone

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Microsoft is betting big on 3D creativity with the Creators Update. After all, this is the company that bought Minecraft.

The new Paint 3D app included with Windows 10 lets you work with and create 3D models. Windows also comes with the «3D Viewer Preview» application that allows everyone to open 3D models, view, rotate them, and enlarge them. It currently supports the .fbx and .3mf file types.

In addition, the Microsoft Edge browser now supports 3D content. It can be used to upload and download 3D models, including models exported from Minecraft and SketchUp, from the Remix3D community website, created by Microsoft. Windows can then 3D print any type of model on a 3D printer, meaning Minecraft players can bring their creations to life in the real world.

Microsoft PowerPoint receives 3D models and cinematic 3D animation for transitions such as Morph, so these 3D models can be included in presentations. Over the next year, Microsoft will add more 3D features to Office applications such as Word and Excel.

Basic augmented reality and virtual reality headsets

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Mixed reality, which includes augmented reality, virtual reality and holographic computing, is another important area, according to Microsoft. «Windows Mixed Reality» is the new name for «Windows Holographic» and it works hand in hand with 3D support. For example, Microsoft’s own HoloLens headset is a mixed reality headset. This allows you to see the real world through the headset, and the digital images are superimposed on that real world image.

With HoloLens, you can download a 3D model from Edge or create it in Paint 3D and place it virtually anywhere in the real world.

You will be able to create your own virtual reality space and decorate it with your own furniture and applications just like in another room. Applications can be placed on shelves. There’s also a new app called HoloTour that lets you explore places around the world using virtual reality or an augmented reality headset.

Microsoft Edge is getting support for WebVR, a standard that will allow websites to deliver virtual reality apps like desktop apps. WebVR was originally developed by Mozilla and Google is also working on WebVR support for Chrome.

But the most interesting: Microsoft is partnering with Acer, Asus, Dell, HP and Lenovo to create mixed reality headsets. They will work without any additional tracking equipment that needs to be placed in the room. “Zero is needed for a separate room. Zero requires complex setup,” as Microsoft put it. These headsets will include cameras, so they’re capable of mixed reality — think Pokémon Go, but in a headset. Best of all, the headset will start at $299, so it will be much more affordable than Microsoft’s own $3,000 HoloLens hardware. They’re also much cheaper than the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive VR headsets, which cost between $599 and $799 respectively.

These headsets won’t need a very expensive computer either. The minimum specifications are much lower than those required by Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. These headsets will even work with Intel integrated graphics if you have the Intel Kaby Lake GPU series or newer. Here are the minimum specifications that Microsoft has announced:

  • CPU: Dual-core Intel Mobile Core i5 processor (e.g. 7200U) with Hyperthreading support
  • GPU: Integrated Intel® HD Graphics 620 (GT2) equivalent or higher DX12 API compatible GPU
  • RAM: 8 GB + dual channel for integrated graphics
  • HDMI: HDMI 1.4 with 2880 x 1440 @ 60Hz
    HDMI 2.0 or DP 1.3+ with 2880 x 1440 @ 90Hz
  • Storage: 100 GB + SSD (Preferred) / HDD
  • Bluetooth: 4.0 and above for accessories.

Microsoft plans to bring these Mixed Reality headsets to Project Scorpio and other Xbox One consoles in 2018.

Windows 10 now includes a new Mixed Reality icon on the home page of the Settings app for managing VR and AR device settings. There’s also a new Mixed Reality Portal app included with Windows 10. This app provides a demo of Windows 10’s Mixed Reality experience.

Night light

Windows 10 introduced the Night Light feature, which was known as Blue Light in earlier builds of the Creators Update.

Night Light works similarly to the venerable f.lux utility. This makes the color temperatures warmer at night, so it will be easier for you to make eye contact and theoretically sleep right after using your computer. Many operating systems have added this feature recently, like iOS with Night Shift.

Go to Settings > System > Display > Night Light Settings to enable Night Light Mode and adjust your desired color temperature. You can set Windows to turn on night mode automatically at sunset and turn it on at dawn.

Game mode and game settings

Windows 10 is acquiring «Game Mode» which claims to improve gaming performance by using both the new Microsoft UWP app platform (Windows Store) and the older Win32 app platform (desktop).

To enable Game Mode, open the Game bar by pressing Windows + G while playing a game. Click the settings icon on the game bar and select the «Use game mode for this game» option.

Game Mode functions by giving priority to the game you are playing, giving it more system resources, and giving other applications on your PC less resources. According to MSPowerUser, your game will get more CPU cores and less background processes. This will work better for newer UWP (Windows Store) apps, but Microsoft says it will still do something for traditional Win32 (Windows Desktop) games. We’re skeptical about Game Mode and its benefits when it comes to traditional Windows tabletop gaming, but we’re sure to see some interesting benchmarks once the Creators Update is officially released.

These features are now much more accessible. Game-related settings are now available in Settings > Games. You no longer need to open the Xbox app and sign in with a Microsoft account to turn off the Game Bar or Game DVR features.

Game streaming for Windows 10 and Xbox One

RELATED: How to Record Gameplay on PC with Game DVR and Game Bar Windows 10

The Microsoft Game DVR feature, which can already record video of your gameplay in the background and upload it to social services, is getting a Broadcast button. It will be able to broadcast your Xbox Live gameplay in real time, and your Xbox Live friends will be notified that you are broadcasting. This will be built into the Xbox One PC and Windows 10. He runs Beam, a service bought by Microsoft in August.

However, this feature can only be transferred to Microsoft’s own Xbox Live service. It will probably be popular on Xbox One, but alternatives like Twitch and YouTube are very popular on PC and Microsoft’s built-in feature doesn’t support them.

Other improvements in PC games

Augmented reality and broadcasting aren’t the only gaming enhancements coming to Windows 10.

Microsoft has partnered with Dolby to bring Doly Atmos positional audio to PC and Xbox One. You don’t even need Atmos-enabled hardware — Windows 10 will let you create Dolby Atmos virtual positional audio with «virtually any pair of headphones.» The Microsoft blog uses Overwatch as an example, promising a tactical advantage where it’s easier for you to hear where other characters are in the game world.

The games you download from the Windows Store can now include built-in display drivers, ensuring that people who choose to buy games from the Store will always have the bare minimum driver needed to make the game work well.

The Game Bar supports many more full screen games including Fallout 4, Dark Souls 3, Overwatch, Starcraft II, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Terraria.

The Xbox app is getting support for custom tournaments. Create a tournament so your friends can join while playing on Xbox One PC or Windows 10 if the Xbox Live-enabled game works on both platforms.

Other features include the Windows Display Driver Model 2.2 (WDDM 2.2), which is reportedly tailored for virtual, augmented and mixed reality scenarios. The Creators Update for Windows 10 will also introduce high dynamic range (HDR) and wide color gamut support for PC gaming and media.

Many of these details were announced at the PC Gaming WinHEC session.

Microsoft Edge improvements

Edge now offers a tab preview bar that shows you a visual preview of each tab you have open. Click on the little down arrow icon to the right of your tabs to view it. It looks a bit like the tab bar in Windows 8 «Modern» version of Internet Explorer. Another new tab management feature allows you to «save tabs» for later, view the tabs you’ve set aside and even «share» them with other apps on your PC. Two new buttons for this are located on the left side of the tab bar.

Microsoft Edge has always been a multi-processor web browser, but Microsoft has redesigned its architecture. In short, Edge should be more stable, more responsive to input, and more resilient to slow or frozen web pages.

Edge will now favor HTML5 content if available, blocking Flash by default. You will be able to choose whether you want Flash to load or not. Avoiding flash will increase battery life, security, and browser performance. This decision follows similar announcements from Google, Mozilla and Apple.

Microsoft has also added support for web payments, which uses a «Pay Request API» that is designed to speed up online payments by making it easier to provide credit card information and a shipping address stored in Microsoft Wallet. You won’t be able to use this feature until websites add support for it.

Edge also received many small improvements. The Edge taskbar icon now offers jump list support, so you can right-click or swipe on the Edge icon in the taskbar to get quick access to tasks like opening a new browser window. Edge can now also read EPUB eBooks right in your web browser. Click on an EPUB file and it will show up in Edge, just like PDF files currently show up in Edge today. Edge now lets you export your favorites to an HTML file and lets you import data from other browsers on your PC.

The file download experience has been improved to match what was possible in Internet Explorer. When downloading a file, you can choose to «Start» the download without first saving it, or use the «Save As» button to specify exactly where you want the file to download.

Internally, Edge now supports Brotli compression. This promises better compression ratios and decompression speeds, which means that websites using this feature can load faster. This compression scheme is also supported in Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, so it’s a cross-browser solution that should make the web better for everyone.

New features of Cortana

Microsoft Virtual Assistant knows several new voice commands in the Creator Update. Cortana can now turn off your PC, restart your PC, lock your screen, or put it to sleep with a voice command. It can also increase or decrease the volume of your system. Cortana now supports voice control for the iHeartRadio and TuneIn apps. You can also ask Cortana what song is playing and she will tell you.

App developers can add Cortana commands to their apps — for example, you can use Cortana voice commands to play movies on Netflix. If you enter the name of an installed app into Cortana—for example, «Netflix»—you’ll see a list of suggested commands. Here is a list of apps that offer Cortana voice commands.

Cortana is also getting a new full screen mode. When your PC is unlocked and idle, you can say «Hey Cortana» and Cortana will appear in a full-screen interface, allowing you to read the screen from across the room. To try this, turn on «Hey Cortana», don’t use your PC’s mouse or keyboard for at least ten seconds, and then say «Hey Cortana».

Reminders in Cortana have become more flexible. You can set reminders to repeat «every month» or «every year» if you want a reminder that happens once a month or once a year.

Cortana is now integrated into the «Windows Out-Of-Box-Experience», the setup wizard you see when setting up a new PC. You can get through this experience just by talking to Cortana.

Microsoft is also working on a new Cortana feature that will prompt you to sync apps across your devices. When you switch computers, Cortana displays links in the Action Center to direct you to the websites you’ve opened in Microsoft Edge and the cloud documents you’ve opened. For example, Cortana will prompt you to open a PowerPoint presentation you’ve saved to SharePoint or OneDrive if you switch computers while working on the presentation. Basically, it’s similar to Apple’s Continuity feature, which works between iOS and macOS.

Developers from Microsoft are quietly working on new features of Cortana, which are also not officially announced. Cortana appears to be acquiring a new «Universal Clipboard» that lets you sync your clipboard across devices running Cortana. It looks like you’ll be able to use the «Copy to» voice command to copy content from one device’s clipboard to another.

Notification sync also looks to be much improved. Not only will Cortana be able to show notifications from your phone on your desktop PC, but it will be able to go the other way as well. Cortana will be able to push notifications from your desktop PC to your smartphone using the Cortana app so you can receive notifications from your PC to your phone.

There is also a feature that allows you to unlock your computer using your phone. You may be able to use your phone with the Cortana app along with Windows Hello to unlock your computer.

More control over Windows Update (mostly)

Huge changes are coming to Windows Update: Microsoft has added options that many Windows users have been asking for.

You can now pause updates for up to 35 days. You’ll find this option under Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update > Advanced Options > Pause Updates. This option is only available on Windows 10 Professional, Enterprise, and Education editions, not Windows 10 Home.

If you have a home edition of Windows 10, there are a few new changes that may prevent Windows 10 from restarting to install updates while using it. When a new update is available, you’ll see a prompt and can choose to «pick a time» when it’s convenient to install the update, or «postpone» it for up to three days. You do not need to restart and install the update immediately if you are using a computer.

You can now set up to 6pm as active hours so Windows 10 won’t restart for updates during those hours. Previously, the maximum was 12 hours. Windows Update also attempts to determine if the PC’s display is being used for something — such as projection — before automatically restarting the PC.

Unfortunately, the option to set the connection as «measured» to avoid receiving all automatic updates is gone. You can still set the connection as measured, and Windows Update will still honor this setting, but only partially. Now Windows 10 automatically downloads «updates necessary for the normal operation of Windows» on measured connections. Microsoft has stated to Winsupersite that they «do not plan to send large updates over measured connections, but may use this for critical fixes if needed in the future.» It’s not clear how often Microsoft will send updates over the measured connections and how much data they’ll use.» I will be a consumer.

The new unified update platform speeds up Windows Update when searching for available updates. Microsoft expects a new major update, such as the Anniversary Update or the Creators Update, to be about 35% smaller in size, resulting in faster downloads and reduced data usage.

And finally, you can now set up wired ethernet connections under settings > settings > network and internet > ethernet. This prevents Windows from automatically downloading all updates and using other unnecessary data in conjunction with limited data. This previously required a registry hack. However, it may be less useful if Microsoft forces some updates through metered connections.

Changes to privacy settings

Microsoft is finally trying to allay some concerns about privacy settings in Windows 10. First, there’s a new Your Privacy page for your Microsoft account. On this page, you can view your information and delete it if you wish. It provides more information about what information Microsoft collects and why.

The Windows 10 installation process that you see when setting up a new PC is also changing. The «Express» setting option, which encourages you to be nondescript and choose the default settings, is gone. Instead, there is now a «Choose privacy settings for your device» page that provides information and prompts you to make a choice.

Telemetry levels in Windows 10 are also simplified. You can now choose between «Basic» or «Full» diagnostic and usage data, with the «advanced» level in the middle removed. The amount of data that Windows 10 shares with Microsoft when you select the Basic tier is also reduced.

Geeky Stuff

Only the most sophisticated Windows users will notice these new features:

Other new features

The Creators Update includes many other important features:

As usual, there are many other small changes and bug fixes. We’ll keep an eye on Insider Preview builds and update this post as Microsoft adds more new features.

Missing: Promised features that are gone

The Creators Update for Windows 10 is still missing some of the features announced by Microsoft. In some cases, Microsoft has gone completely silent on when we can expect to see these features.

Future: Redstone 3 and Beyond

We’re aware of some other features that Microsoft is working on that won’t be ready for the Creators Update. These features are for Redstone 3, the next update after the Creators Update (codenamed Redstone 2).

Redstone 3 will contain other new features as well. We will learn more about them in the future.

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