Itching to get your hands on Microsoft's big Spring Creators Update for Windows 10? If you can't wait for the scheduled update (dropping next week), you have two options - an easy way and a trickier way.
What's in the Spring Creators Update, anyway?
Before you jump through hoops to grab the update before its official April 10 release, here's a quick recap of some of the new features you'll find in it:
- A new history for your Task View: Tap the Windows Key + Tab, and you'll now see a little historical archive of activities you performed on previous days, not just a list of all the apps you currently have open. You can search for specific activities using a little search icon in the upper-right corner, and you can also synchronise your activity list across multiple devices - so you can resume what you were doing when moving from, say, your computer to your Windows 10 tablet. Don't expect to see everything you've done in Windows on this list, though: Websites you recently visited, for example, will only appear if you were using Microsoft Edge (which you probably weren't).
- Updated Settings: You can now tweak sound options, including the default volume you want specific apps to run at, via Windows 10's Settings panel (within the System option, specifically). You can also take a look at which apps launch at your system's startup; still adjustable in Task Manager, as always, but now also found in Settings > Apps > Startup. A new fonts management system also makes its debut in the Settings app, which you can play with in Settings >; Personalisation > Fonts. Who doesn't love fonts?
- Control the bandwidth updates use: If you're concerned that Microsoft's updates for Windows are burning through the allotment of monthly data your ISP allows you to use (ugh), you can now adjust both download and upload settings for Windows and app updates. Pull up Settings > Update & Security > Advanced options > Delivery Optimisation > Advanced options to set some limits on what your PC is pulling down (or sending to others).
- Nearby Sharing: Microsoft's answer to Apple's AirDrop, this feature - found whenever you tap a share button in Windows - allows you to drop content to other nearby Windows 10 PCs over a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection.
- Even more Cortana Skills: The various tasks Cortana can help you out with have been reorganised a bit, especially its Collections and Lists features, and you can access even more services (especially smart home services) and skills. In other words, the Windows 10 Spring Creators Update might make you a little more chatty with your desktop or laptop.
- Focus Assist: Tired of being bothered by your friends (or Windows) when you're trying to work? You can now set which kind of alerts and notifications you'd like to receive by default, and even set up special states for when you do (or don't) want to be bothered: When you're working, when you're gaming, and so on.
- Making apps look less blurry: If you use scaling in Windows because you're using a display with a huge resolution and smaller screen size, Windows 10 will now attempt to make apps less blurry when they struggle with scaling. Find this option under Settings > System > Display > Advanced scaling.
- Wave goodbye to Homegroup: It's gone. Sorry. Try OneDrive?
Enticed yet? If you want to learn about every single little feature arriving in Microsoft's update, Pureinfotech has a comprehensive guide to everything you'll be able to tinker with. Go brew a coffee and prepare to sit down for an extended read. It's a lot.
Once you're ready, let's get updating.
Acquiring the Windows 10 Spring Creators update: The easy way
Screenshot: David Murphy
As Neowin notes, the Windows 10 Spring Creators update is easy to download and install if you opt in to the Windows Insiders program and select the Release Preview ring. (This will also ensure that you get earlier access to updates, which should be fairly stable by the time they're sent your way.)
Becoming a Windows Insider is easy:
- Open Windows 10's Settings (for example, by clicking on the Start menu and tapping the gear icon in the lower-left corner).
- Click Update & Security.
- Click Windows Insider Program.
- Click on the "Get Started" button.
- When prompted, indicate that you just want to receive "Fixes, apps and drivers".
When done, it's worth going back to the Update & Security screen to triple-check that you're just getting fixes, apps and drivers - and set your pace to Slow if you want to minimise any chance of early updates messing up your system. They shouldn't, but it never hurts to be safe. With luck, this will allow you to receive the Windows 10 Spring Creators update before everyone else. If you're feeling impatient, or if you want to test out Microsoft's updates even earlier, you can also switch to a different kind of content, such as "Active development of Windows", or the Fast update pace.
Acquiring the Windows 10 Spring Creators update: The trickier way
If you just want the Windows 10 Spring Creators update and don't want to have to deal with being a Windows Insider - no harm there, if you're not feeling like beta testing Microsoft's stuff - GHacks has a thorough writeup on how you can grab the official update from Microsoft's servers. You'll have to jump through a few technical hoops to get it ready for your system, but your patience will be rewarded with a fully working copy of the update before your (non-Insider) friends have it.
Screenshot: David Murphy
Here's a brief overview of what you'll have to do:
- Grab the 32-bit or 64-bit ESD file from Microsoft (for English/US; other languages available here)
- Decrypt the ESD file using Wimlib, which you'll have to run with administrator privileges.
- Use Wimlib to convert the ESD file into an ISO file (that includes all Windows editions)
- Burn the ISO to a DVD or USB drive (thanks to Microsoft's Windows USB/DVD download tool)
- Use your DVD/USB drive to install the Windows 10 Spring Creators update
You don't have to install the big update
Of course, it might be worth waiting a little while to install the Windows 10 Spring Creators update. As GHacks' Martin Brinkmann notes:
I will wait at least a month before I even thing of upgrading production machines to the new Windows 10 version. Past releases have shown that things can go wrong terribly during upgrades and that Microsoft is busy fixing issues that come up after the release of the new Windows version.
You can keep your system update-free for a week by simply pausing all updates for seven days - found in Windows Update > Advanced options. That might not be enough time for Microsoft to squash any and all bugs in the Spring Creators update, but it's something.