Windows 10 Spring Creators Update – Small step on Windows’ timeline

Microsoft did not release the Spring Creators Update on April 10, as expected by Microsoft insiders, but only provided security updates , and the company appears to have some last-minute work to do. However, the release has been feature complete for some time and build 17133, on which this review is based, is therefore identical in terms of functions to the version that Microsoft will make publicly available in the near future. Incidentally, the name Spring Creators Update has also not been confirmed, but based on that name in newer builds, it is generally assumed that this will be the name.

For a long time, Windows was Microsoft’s showpiece; it brought the Redmond company unprecedented success. However, the operating system’s heyday has been behind us for some time, partly due to declining PC sales. At the end of March there was a striking change in Microsoft’s organization; the Windows division is gone. This is split into a division for Experiences & Devices and one for Cloud & AI Platform. It is further evidence that Windows no longer plays the major role it once did within Microsoft.

It remains to be seen what consequences the move will have in the long term, but it does not mean that the development of Windows has been put on the back burner for the time being. In fact, Microsoft keeps up the pace with its feature updates. The last major update to the operating system was the Fall Creators Update , which came out last October. By then, the next tweak was already in development, the fourth in the series that Microsoft is putting under the codename Redstone. Once again, Microsoft chooses the official name Creators Update to present the update to the general public and because it will be released in the spring, it is appropriately, but not very creatively called: Spring Creators Update.

Some features we already knew were coming to the operating system. Last year, Microsoft had bigger plans with the Fall Creators Update than the company could deliver, which meant that functions were pushed through. This applies, for example, to Timeline. In addition, it was already clear that Microsoft Windows 10 also provides a lick of paint. Under the name Fluent Design System, Microsoft gives the Windows Shell a metamorphosis. The Windows Shell is the graphical user interface of the operating system. The developer applied the new design guidelines here and there with the Fall Creators Update and we see more of that in this Spring Creators Update.

In this article, we look at what other adjustments Microsoft has made to Windows 10.

Save time on major updates

Every Windows user knows the frustrations of updating. After a major update, the system sometimes takes a long time to reboot and therefore cannot be used. Microsoft has been trying to shorten that time for some time. With last year’s Creators Update, a user was unable to use their system for an average of 82 minutes; by the October Fall Creators Update, that was reduced to an average of 51 minutes. With this update, the waiting time has been further reduced, to an average of half an hour for Insiders, Microsoft claims. The actual time depends on the system. Microsoft has brought forward two update steps for this, so that they can run in the background while the user can continue to work on his system. This involves preparing for the migration of the user data and already placing the updated operating system in a temporary folder.

Updated privacy menu

Microsoft has expanded the privacy menu, which users see upon installation since last year’s Creators Update, to include the “Find my device” setting. This option allows a user with a Microsoft account to find their device if it is stolen or lost, but requires location sharing with Microsoft to be enabled. The other new option is “Inking & typing,” about sending data about stylus usage and typing so that Microsoft can improve language recognition and suggest new apps and services. Microsoft asks per component on separate pages whether options should be enabled or disabled.

The privacy menu in the Windows settings is divided into Windows Permissions and App Permissions. The Windows section allows users to delete the diagnostic data that the operating system collects. This data can also be viewed with the Diagnostic Data Viewer that is available in the Microsoft Store, and Microsoft provides a more detailed explanation of how the data is collected, which means that it no longer infringes the privacy rules in this respect as before .


Timeline was supposed to be part of the Fall Creators Update, but Microsoft needed more time to get the feature ready. As the name implies, the feature provides an overview of past activities. The function can be called up via the Task View button on the taskbar, or via Windows key + Tab, after which thumbnails of open applications can be seen with a scroll bar next to them. Scrolling down or searching allows the user to ‘travel back in time’ and resume past activities.

The history of snapshots of apps and documents goes back up to 30 days and also includes activities on other systems, as long as the user is logged in with their Microsoft account. Since the list of activities can grow considerably, there is a search function. In addition, Cortana can suggest which activity you can pick up again, with the ‘Pick up where you left off’ function. Activities can be deleted individually, but all activities for a whole day can also be deleted at once. The user can disable activity tracking through the privacy menu, under Activity history. Here you can also delete the entire activity history.

For now, the feature works best with Windows apps, such as Maps, News, Money, Sports, and Weather. Sites in Microsoft Edge and Office files can also be reopened. The snapshot display is based on an Activity Card and currently not every card contains a thumbnail. Nor is it clear what the moment of taking a snapshot is based on. App developers can indicate Timeline destinations within their programs through User Activities and place identifiers at various activities within an app.

Timeline is a feature that will be appreciated by many Windows users. It’s sort of Alt + Tab on steroids , which offers a shortcut to programs you worked with at an earlier point in time, including the one at that time. It does look a bit messy, it lacks a link with mobile and the question is whether third-party apps will offer support for it.


The Near Share feature allows users to easily share files and URLs at a short distance using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The conditions are that both systems have activated Near Share, have Bluetooth turned on and are separated by a distance within which the connection works. Nearby Sharing can be activated via the Action Center and in the settings you can indicate whether files can be received from everyone or only from the user’s own systems. Each menu for sharing items within Windows then shows the nearby systems that also support Near Share. The Share button is not only in Windows apps such as Edge, Photos and Maps, but also in the explorer, so that any file can be quickly exchanged from there between, for example, a work PC and a laptop.

The feature is very useful and reminiscent of AirDrop, which Apple offers from Mac OS X 10.7 Lion and iOS 7. The speed is on the slow side and it can sometimes take a while before the notification appears that a file is coming your way.

Fluent Design

In the Fall Creators Update, we were introduced to Fluent Design, the umbrella name for the visual tweaks to the Windows Shell, the operating system’s graphical user interface. With this Spring update, Microsoft is adjusting the display of more screen elements based on those design guidelines. The “acrylic” appearance of semi-transparent window parts is now seen in the settings menu, taskbar, Share menu and Edge browser, among others. In the Action Center and the calendar, Microsoft applies ‘reveal’: items are highlighted based on the position of the mouse. It’s purely about aesthetic tweaks that make Windows look a bit more appealing to the users who care.


The use of Edge is still not increasing, so Microsoft has to work hard if it wants to attract users. With this release, users can turn off the sound per tab, as we know from more popular browsers such as Chrome and Firefox. The dark theme has been updated with deeper blacks for better contrast and in full screen view the tabs and url bar can be accessed by moving the mouse to the top of the screen. This way you can navigate without leaving F11 mode. Furthermore, the menu for reading e-books has been adjusted and expanded, including the option to display all notes in a window and to divide sentences into syllables. The view of the ‘hub’, which includes your favourites, has been adjusted and now looks a lot clearer. Edge is now a reasonable browser and quite a handy e-book reader.

Progressive Web Apps

The spring update marks the arrival of progressive web apps , or PWAs, to Windows. These are web apps that behave like Universal Windows Apps. So they are sites that run on the Edge engine, but in a sandboxed appx package , so without the browser overhead. The advantage is that they can function offline, can be opened via Live Tiles and can display notifications via the Action Center, if developers choose to do so.

In addition, they can be found in the Microsoft Store and that is the advantage for Microsoft; it’s a way to supply the store with stock, which is still lacking in the Microsoft Store. Developers can submit their web apps for inclusion in the Store, but for now Microsoft indexes suitable web apps itself and publishes them in the app store itself. There are now a dozen in the Store, including for, Skyscanner and Men’s Wearhouse. Twitter is also working on it. Google supports the development of PWAs, so Microsoft hopes it will become a widely accepted standard.

It doesn’t work very well on Windows yet. With’s pwa, which incidentally immediately showed a Microsoft Azure banner that we didn’t see on the site, external links lead you to third-party sites within the bare app environment and you miss the browser functions. It works better for services with good, responsive sites, but the question is whether the benefits outweigh the effort of installing an app if you can also open the site.


The Spring Creators Update includes a host of smaller changes, some of which we highlight here.


The Game Bar overlay for recording and broadcasting game sessions, among other things, has been given a new look. The Game Bar now shows the time and can be displayed with a semi-transparent dark and light theme. The layout of the buttons has also been adjusted, so that all functions are now more quickly within reach.

Windows Defender

The Windows Defender component has been renamed to Windows Security in the settings menu and can directly open the various components of the Defender Security Center from there.

Focus Assist

Those who wanted to concentrate on their work could activate Quiet Hours via the Action Center in Windows 10. Once enabled, no notifications appear, but there was nothing more to set. The function has been renamed Focus Assist, you can now set ‘do not disturb’ times and you can determine which notifications and alarms are allowed to pass through.

Faster bluetooth pairing

The Spring update introduces a method to pair with Bluetooth devices at the touch of a button, making the connection less cumbersome to set up than it is now. The problem is that devices have to support it, and so far only Microsoft’s own Surface Precision Mouse does.

Start Menu: Documents and Pictures

Of course, Microsoft has been tinkering with the Start Menu again, although the changes are minimal. At the items on the far left of the list you can now go directly to the folders for photos and those for documents. Furthermore, you can now right-click on a Live Tile and go to the settings of the relevant app.

HDR & Advanced Graphics Settings

In the ‘Video playback’ settings of the Apps menu, you can calibrate a display to display HDR, if the display supports it. You’ll then be presented with a two-image video with a slider below it, which you’ll need to set to a brightness that provides a good balance between the two images. It’s a basic tool, but it’s better than nothing.

Windows now also gives you the option to indicate per application whether the more economical, integrated GPU or the additional, more powerful GPU should be used in the future when running. Most users will know this from their AMD or Nvidia driver. The Windows graphics setting overrules that driver.

Adjust fuzzy display app

An annoying problem is that certain apps appear blurred due to a change in scaling, for example when switching screens. With those apps, the display could be individually adjusted in the properties, with the option ‘Change high DPI setting’. Starting with the Spring update, Windows itself can automatically adjust the display of apps if they look fuzzy. The option is in the Display menu, under ‘Advanced scaling settings’. If an app is running that doesn’t look right, Windows may display a notification asking if it needs to be addressed. Microsoft warns that this does not work with every app and that this only works for the primary screen.


The Spring Creators Update mainly revolves around Timeline and Near Share. These are functions that are useful to more people than previous ‘creative’ innovations, such as Mixed Reality, Remix 3d, Windows Ink and Story Remix. The many other minor improvements are in line with previous Windows 10 updates; they make “the new” Windows more complete, but do not substantially change its use.

Timeline and Near Share are features that make working on more than one system easier, but they also make it clear that hardly having a mobile platform is a great loss for Microsoft. In addition, Edge’s small improvements are probably not enough to increase the browser’s market share, and the resort to Progressive Web Apps, while an interesting development, seems like an emergency measure to increase the number of apps in the Microsoft Store.

The Spring Creators Update is a relatively small update in the series, one that will delight fans of the operating system, but is unlikely to gain new fans. With the Windows division gone and Microsoft floundering on Windows 10’s S mode strategy, and as Android and iOS continue to rumble, the big question is what the Redmond company’s long-term vision is for the operating system. If Microsoft really wants to offer subscription services around Windows 10, which has been rumored , it will probably have to pull out more.