25 Features and Improvements Included in the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update – Build 1709

Microsoft Windows 10 Fall Creators Update (1709) has arrived! Here are our 25 top features and improvements you can expect from the upgrade.
Rinse and repeat, a new version of Windows 10 is here again – Windows Fall Creators Update! It was only six months ago Microsoft released Windows 10 1703. The software firm has switched to a double upgrade per year strategy; one in the spring and fall. Windows 10 Fall Creators Update builds on its predecessor, which is going out on a not so good ending; with recent reports of a botched update and a month of glitchy issues with Microsoft Edge. Hopefully, the new version smooths things over. This article covers some of the new features and improvements that have gotten us excited. If you just upgraded and wondering what’s different, here is your chance to find out and start digging in.



A List of Some of the New Features and Improvements Users Should Try in Windows 10 1709

I recently upgraded my Surface Pro 3 to 1709 and after logging in, there was a bit of underwhelming feeling lingering. The features and functionality just weren’t obvious. The list below is not in any particular order, but what came to mind as I explored and dug through.


1. Microsoft Edge Gets a Dedicated Reset and Repair Function

I mentioned in the introduction the crappy month Edge had in September and continues to suffer from the recent botched KB4041676 update. Previously, we covered how to do this, but for a modern 21st-century operating system in 2017, going to the command line to sort out issues with it should not be the way to go. The Edge engineering team has listened, and just like other apps, you can now repair or reset Edge.
Now, you can open Start > Settings > Apps > Apps & Features, search for Edge, select it, click Advanced options, then choose one of two options or both, Reset or Repair. So, if Edge is not acting right, you have an easy way to fix it.

A simple way to give Edge a kick if it’s not acting right.


2. OneDrive On Demand Files Makes a Come Back

OneDrive On Demand was originally built into Windows 8 but got dropped with the introduction of Windows 10. Now its back and we covered the details how to set it up and use it in our feature preview article. If you want a better way to manage and access your files without using up space, especially on low storage devices, you will be happy to have it.


3. My People Hub – Get Quick Access to Contacts on Taskbar

Communication is a big part of the Fall Creators Update. Originally planned for version 1703, the My People app needed more work, but it looks like its finally ready. Now you can easily send a message, start a chat or share files with family, friends, and colleagues right from your Taskbar. You can even assign favorite contacts you want to have quick access to and you drag and drop files on pinned Contacts, too.


4. Pin Your Favorite Websites to the Taskbar or Start menu

A feature I loved using in Internet Explorer is Pinned Sites. This added a shortcut for my favorite websites to the Taskbar. It doesn’t work exactly the same in Edge, but its close enough. You can find it by opening your favorite website, click the More Actions menu then click Pin this page to the taskbar or Pin this page to Start. When you open a shortcut, it opens the site in a new tab in Edge. Hopefully, they make it possible to have shortcuts open in their own window in a future update. If you prefer using Chrome, check out Brian’s article.


5. Calculator Can Now Do Currency Calculations

This is a welcome feature to have when you need to check up on your exchange rates. Especially with the strength of the greenback against the local dollar, I am constantly checking it. To use it click the Hamburger menu > Currency > enter your amount > choose a country. The calculator will automatically convert the rates or you can manually refresh it.


6. Dedicated Phone Category in Settings

Windows 10 Mobile is dead, long live Windows Phone in its apps. Microsoft might have given up on being a contender in the phone business, but they are not leaving it all to Google and Apple, yet. No siree, the company is looking for an opportunity to eek out some relevance in the race and it looks like they might have found a way.
The new Phone setting lets you hook up your Android or iPhone with Windows 10, so you can easily start one activity such as web browsing, email, using specific apps on your smartphone then continue the experience on your Windows 10 device. It’s kinda similar to Apples Continuity, we recently covered how it works on both iPhone and Android.


7. Cortana Gets its Own Category Too

Managing Cortana settings in Windows 10 is now more accessible than ever. The dedicated Setting is easier to navigate since various settings are broken down into easy to find categories such as talk to Cortana, Permissions & History, Notifications, and More details.


8. Install Ubuntu Linux and other Subsystems from the Microsoft Store

Previously introduced in Windows 10 Anniversary Update, the Windows 10 Subsystem for Linux was a bit of an advanced function to setup. We showed you details, but Microsoft never stopped working on refining it and you can set it up even easier by downloading it as a simple app from the Windows Store. Done!


9. Virtual Machine Templates Now Available in Hyper-V Quick Create

Need some inspiration for your next VM? Why not choose one from the Hyper-V gallery? Pre-configured and ready to go with all the tools you need. No need to mess with ISO’s or configure settings, just choose a Dev VM from the gallery and it will down and be ready to go. I wish there was an option to customize it through so you move it to a larger partition or drive.


10. Edge Can Edit and Annotate PDFs and EPUB Files Too

We recently covered how to use PDFs in Windows 10. We pointed out how weak Edge is when it comes to handling the industry standard for digital documents. Edge in Windows 10 1709 is taking the lead by delivering a rich set of features when handling PDFs. Not only can you edit PDF forms, but you can also market them up – not that you will want to do that on every document, but I can see how a teacher or editor could find this handy. Edge also lets you access a table of contents for your PDFs. There is also better support for EPUB documents and the ability to edit them too.


11. Storage Sense Gets More Options

Storage Sense, the intelligent space management utility, now adds support the Downloads folder. You can now configure it to automatically delete files that have not been changed after 30 days.


12. Ready Against Ransomware Controlled folder access

Windows 10 is built with a deep focus on protecting users against the biggest threats in computing. The year 2017 is turning out to be one that put ransomware at the top. Windows 10 1709 includes new defenses that protect your system from such attacks. Controlled Folder Access limits the damage a ransomware attack can have on your computer. It prevents malicious apps and threats from making changes to your files. Any time a suspicious app tries to modify your files, it is instantly blocked and you are alerted. That alone makes this a worthy upgrade.


13. Emojis Get a Boost in Windows 10

Emojis have taken the world by storm, but Windows 10 has not really made using them easy to use until now. Calling up the Emoji panel is much easier using the new Windows Key + . (that’s Windows key plus the period key). You can search and choose from different categories of emoji. Windows 10 also supports the new Emoji 5.0 standard.


14. Improved On-Screen Keyboard

If you use a tablet such as the Surface Pro, you will like the improved keyboard, which supports up to 26 languages. The highlight of using the new keyboard is the built predictive text services, which saves you time when typing. The keyboard includes some additional tricks such as dictation and one-handed support, which looks like the keyboard on a Windows Phone.


15. Windows Update is More Verbose

Windows Update in Windows 10 1709 gives you a little more detail about your updates status, which includes download and install progress. This gives you a better idea what’s happening, whether its stuck or just taking a long time as usual.

Windows 10 Build 16299-15 Cumulative Update


16. Create Movies with Motion Picture Effects Using Story Remix

Earlier this year, Microsoft discontinued its Windows Essentials suite, which included the beloved Movie Maker. Users started wondering, what the successor to Windows Live Movie Maker might be? Turns out, the company was working on a successor all along. Called Story Remix, the feature integrates with Photos, making it easy to select photos and videos to start a project. Some might say it’s not so robust; it doesn’t feature a timeline like regular video editors, but you can do a lot with it.
For instance, you can drag and drop clips and photos in any order, set a specific duration for an image or clip, apply filters, stylish titles and add motion. Users can also select from pre-packaged themes to get you started and you can even add background music. Whats particularly impressive about it all is how easy it is to use. The app even knows when to shorten the music automagically based on the length of the video and does it so smoothly. When you are done, you can upload the video to your website or choose the best format for high definition TVs or email and small screen devices.
It’s not Premier Elements, it’s not Movie Maker it’s not any of old stuff you are used to, but it’s more than welcome. Easy to use, fun, magical and quick. Brian showed us recently how Story Remix works. It’s a fantastic tutorial on the new app so be sure to check it out.


17. Improved Accessibility – Switch Between Color or Gray

If you are color blind and want to see your screen better, there is a keyboard shortcut to change your screen/display to gray. Press Windows key + Control + C to toggle the feature on or off.


18. About Settings page is More Detailed

If you want more details about your system, along with its status, the improved About page gives you enough details. Gone is the big Windows logo, replaced by information such as protection and security status from Windows Defender. You can also your usual Device specifications and specific Windows related specifications such as edition, version, and OS build number.


19. Remote Desktop Gets a Modern Setting

Still in the System category, Remote Desktop gets its own setting, further deprecating the legacy settings previously found under Advanced System Settings. It sure is a lot easier to find and setup.


20. New Microsoft Store Branding and Updated Interface

The Windows Store is now the Microsoft Store. The branding aligns with Microsoft physical retail stores, providing consistency in name only since you can’t buy hardware like a Surface Book from it. The interface is much cleaner and easier to navigate, but users might miss the obvious like finding downloads and updates settings, now available from the See more ellipsis menu. There you can view your existing library and reinstall apps easily, manage store settings, redeem codes and manage your purchases.


21. Task Manager Gets Power Updates – GPU Utilization and Power Throttling

The Task Manager is improving with each update; Windows 10 1709 adds support for GPU utilization so you can monitor how your graphics adapter is performing. Another feature that only works with newer Intel 6th generation processors such as Skylake and Kabylake is Power Throttling. Power Throttling provides efficiency in areas such as battery life while giving apps the chance to still run in the background and complete tasks.


22. Even More Ways to Share

Windows 10 1703 introduced improved sharing functionality, with the option share using the People Picker. Now you can access it from the right-click menu on the Desktop or in File Explorer.


23. Cortana Can Take Commands for Powering Down Your Device

We mentioned Cortana getting its own category, but the digital assistant can do more everyday tasks, too like Shutdown, Restart or Lock your Device. Just say ‘Hey, Cortana’ – Restart PC, answer – Yes.


24. The Pen is Even Mightier in Windows 10 1709

If you own a Windows 10 device that supports Pen input, you can do a lot more with it. For instance, you can now use your pen to scroll in Microsoft Edge; you can even create a lasso around images and Cortana will provide information about the selected item. I found out this only work with the Surface Pro 4 or later though. The pen and ink feature better handwriting recognition too. I was able to freely write and have my text transcribed without worrying about making mistake.


25. New User Experience – Acrylic

Over the years, Windows adopts a new theme to spruce things up a bit. Windows XP had Luna, Windows Vista had Aero; Windows 8 had Modern. Windows 10 1709 introduces Acrylic, which is not fully implemented yet, but you can see obvious signs of it in areas such as the Start, bundled apps like Edge, My People Hub and Action Center. For users who loved Aero Glass, it strikes a balance between the new and old that feels modern and stylish.


There is a whole lot more to be discovered and I’m sure you will share your findings in the comments. Windows 10 Fall Creators Update is looking like a solid update, but I’m sure many of you are starting to feel the upgrade fatigue set in. Take your time and don’t rush it. Remember to check out per-requisite guide to ensure your upgrade goes smoothly and also join the forums for round the clock help and support.


Install Third Party Themes in Windows 10 Fall Creators Update (Build 1709)

by Sergey Tkachenko  If you love to customize the appearance of your operating system, you may already know that by default, Microsoft Windows doesn't allow you to apply third party themes. Out of the box, Windows allows using only digitally signed themes released by Microsoft, so it is limited only to the default themes shipped with the operating system. Here is how to bypass this restriction and install and apply third party themes in Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.

With every new Windows release, Microsoft makes some minor changes to the theme engine and/or its format. This leads to the situation where for every single release, you need a special software (a so called UXTheme patcher) which supports that new release. Windows 10 is no exception.
Manuel Hoefs of has created an amazing utility, UltraUXThemePatcher, which allows you to use third party themes in all Windows versions from Windows XP to Windows 10.  He has updated it to be compatible with Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, so that's awesome news.
As of this writing, the app supports the following versions of Windows 10 (both 32-bit and 64-bit editions):
  • RTM (Build 10240)
  • Anniversary Update, version 1607
  • Creators Update, version 1703
  • Fall Creators Update, version 1709
The app modifies three system files on disk (uxtheme.dll, UXInit.dll, themeui.dll).
To install and apply third party themes in Windows 10, follow the instruction below.
  1. Download UltraUXThemePatcher from its official home page:Download UltraUXThemePatcher
    I suggest you to read the provided FAQ, it is really useful.
  2. Run the installer and follow the instructions. It is quite simple.
  3. Ultrauxthemepatcher1 Ultrauxthemepatcher2 Ultrauxthemepatcher3 Ultrauxthemepatcher4
  4. Restart your PC when prompted.
Voila, the magic is done!

How to apply third party visual styles (themes) in Windows 10

  1. Once you have installed UltraUXThemePatcher, it's time to get some cool visual styles.
    I recommend you to visit Deviantart and grab there some nice looking visual style.
  2. Copy your theme folder containing a .theme file and a folder containing .msstyles file to the folder "c:\Windows\Resources\Themes".
  3. Now double-click on the .theme file and it'll apply the theme. You can also apply it using the Settings app to switch between themes.
That's it.

RECOMMENDED: Click here to fix Windows errors and optimize system performance



How to Find Windows 10's Spotlight Lock Screen Pictures

If you have Windows 10's default, Spotlight feature enabled, your lock screen shows gorgeous images courtesy of Microsoft. Some of these high-quality photos are nature shots while others are pictures of great cities around the world. The pictures rotate several times a day, but what if you see an image you like and want to keep a copy of it? Windows keeps these photos buried deep in a hidden directory, but with a bit of digging, you can find them, save them and even use them as desktop wallpaper.

Here's how to find Windows 10's Spotlight lock screen images:

1. Click View in File Explorer.
Buying a Laptop? 5 Ways to Tell a Deal From a Dud

screenshot (97) 475152

2. Click Options. A Folder Options window will appear.
screenshot (98) 675109.5

3. Click the View tab.
screenshot (99) 335403

4. Select "Show hidden files, folders and drives" and click Apply.
screenshot (100) 336403

5. Go to This PC > Local Disk (C:) > Users > [YOUR USERNAME] > AppData > Local >  Packages > Microsoft.Windows.ContentDeliveryManager_cw5n1h2txyewy > LocalState > Assets
screenshot (102)

You'll be presented with a plethora of file names that make absolutely no sense and show no extensions. There's no great method of telling which ones are beautiful photos and which are icons, but you're better off clicking on items with larger file sizes.

6. Copy the most recent large files to another folded (ex: pictures).
Copy to pictures folder

7. Rename the files and add the files suffix .jpg to the end of their names.

You should now be able to view the pictures in any image viewer or editor you want.
One more thing: keep in mind that Microsoft adds and removes these at its whim. If you see one you like, pounce on it and make a copy before it goes away, possibly forever.

Andrew E. Freedman
Andrew E. Freedman,
Andrew joined in 2015, reviewing computers and keeping up with the latest news. He holds a M.S. in Journalism (Digital Media) from Columbia University. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Kotaku, PCMag and Complex, among others. Follow him on Twitter @FreedmanAE.



Microsoft releases out-of-band security updates to address Intel bug

Microsoft released out-of-band security updates for Windows yesterdays that address a recently revealed major security bug in Intel, AMD and ARM processors.
The updates are filed under the IDs KB4056888 , KB4056890. KB4056891, KB4056892, and KB405689. All updates share the following description:
Security updates to Internet Explorer, Microsoft Scripting Engine, Microsoft Edge, Windows Graphics, Windows Kernel, Windows Subsystem for Linux, and the Windows SMB Server.
The update is available only for Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 at this point; updates for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 will be released next Tuesday according to The Verge. The second Tuesday of the month is Microsoft’s traditional Patch Tuesday. Microsoft releases security updates for all supported products on that day usually.
The updates rely on firmware updates from Intel, AMD, and other vendors, and some software programs, antivirus products, for instance, may need patching as well to address the changes made to Kernel-level access.
The patches may cause performance to drop on affected systems. While Intel Skylake and newer processor systems won’t see a massive drop in performance, older Intel processors may see a significant drop in performance after application.
Intel confirmed that performance might be affected depending on the system’s workload. Initial benchmarks suggest that performance may drop by up to 30% in certain workload situations.
AMD published a response on its corporate website indicating that AMD processors are affected only by one variant of the vulnerability and that the company expects a negligible performance impact
Google disclosed the vulnerability yesterday on the Project Zero blog. It seems likely that Microsoft’s decision to release an out-of-band security update for Windows 10 was caused by Google’s disclosure date.
It is unclear why Microsoft won’t release updates for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 as out-of-band security updates as well.
Update: Security updates for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, and Server operating systems are available on the Microsoft Update Catalog website (thanks Woody).
Internet Explorer 11 patches are available on the Microsoft Update Catalog website as well.


 Installing the update


windows KB4056888 KB4056890 KB4056891 KB4056892 KB405689
Windows 10 users and admins can use Windows Updates to install the out-of-band security updates to affected machines running Windows 10.
  1. Tap on the Windows-key, type Windows Update and select the item from the list of results to open the Update & Security section of the Settings application.
  2. Click on “check for updates” to run a manual check for updates if the check does not happen automatically.
  3. Click download or wait for the download to complete automatically.
  4. Restart the computer system.
Follow the links below to the KnowledgeBase articles.
The following links point to the Microsoft Update Catalog website where updates can be downloaded manually: