There will be many more new features and small changes that make Windows better to use, just as there were in previous updates. We’ll learn about those through the Insider Previews released between now and September, so check back with this post for more useful, smaller, geeky features.
OneDrive Shows Files in the Cloud, Downloading Them on Demand
Microsoft announced “OneDrive Files on Demand”, which allows some files to be stored in the cloud and available to you without being synced on your local device. An older version of this feature appeared in Windows 8.1, and people have been asking for it since. Dropbox and Google Drive are incorporating a similar feature, too.
Interestingly enough, this works with files in the Desktop and Documents folder, so it isn’t just limited to files in the OneDrive folder.
When you try to open a file that isn’t stored on your PC, Windows will download it and open it for you. This is implemented at a low level in the operating system and works with any application, even command line ones.
Windows Syncs Your Clipboard Between Your PCs and Phones
There’s now a cloud-based clipboard that allows you to copy and paste data between your devices. This will work in Windows without developers having to do anything. Copy something on one of your Windows PCs, and it’ll be available on the clipboard on your other Windows PCs. It’ll also work with Microsoft’s SwiftKey keyboard on iPhone and Android.
The Microsoft Office team is working on a clipboard history feature, allowing you to paste things you’ve copied to your clipboard in the past. That’s just one example of what app developers could do with this feature, and Microsoft hopes other app developers take further advantage of it.
Microsoft Graph Tracks Your Activities, and the Timeline Helps You Resume Them Anywhere
According to Microsoft, “the Windows PC will help you roam from device to device using the Microsoft Graph”. Windows knows whether you were working on a document, playing music, browsing the web, reading news, or watching a video through the Microsoft Graph. There’s a new Timeline feature that shows the activities you perform on your PC over time, and it’s searchable.
Cortana’s “Pick up where you left off” feature suggests activities you might want to resume when you switch to another PC.
This feature works iPhones and Android phones, too. If you install the Cortana app, Cortana will prompt you to pick up where you left off on your phone when you leave your PC. Cortana is aware of your timeline, so you can choose to resume activities you were working on. Perform an activity on your phone and it will appear in the timeline on your PC later, too.
To make this easier to set up, there’s a new “Phone” icon on the main Settings app screen that will guide users through setting this up. This will also enable syncing notifications with Android devices and syncing reminders to iPhones and Android phones.
Microsoft pitched app developers on enabling “Connected Experiences” across devices with Project Rome. Microsoft is clearly hoping more developers enable Shared Experiences, as few apps—not even Microsoft’s own apps—use them today in the Creators Update.
Fluent Design Is Windows 10’s New Design Language (and Includes Inking Improvements)
Microsoft has a new design language named “Fluent Design“. It uses more light, depth, motion, and transparency. It’s more related to “material” objects and incorporates “scale” more, according to Microsoft. This sounds like the final name of Project Neon, a new visual design language Microsoft has been working on, but it’s more than that. It’s a new interaction model, according to Microsoft.
Part of this includes integrating better inking support into Windows, allowing you to use a pen to navigate through the entire operating system. This includes being able to more easily write-to-type with a stylus in Edge, scroll by dragging up and down with the stylus, and more quickly select text. Microsoft referred to Edge as “the best ink-enabled browser”. You can now annotate PDFs with a pen in Edge, too (finally).
You’re going to see Fluent Design show up in everything from the Windows shell interface to the included apps in Windows over time, according to Microsoft.
Windows Story Remix is a User-Friendly Video Editor With Many Smart Features
Microsoft announced a new “Windows Story Remix” application that allows you to edit videos, add a soundtrack, and add text. You can capture videos on your phone and send them to the app. The capture app supports Android and iPhone as well as Windows Phone. Multiple people can contribute to a Story Remix and it will automatically combine the videos to create a video.
Story Remix also works with photos, allowing you to search for people in photos, photos that contain “dogs”, and other advanced AI-powered types of searches. When creating a video, you can choose a specific person in the video to be the “star” and Story Remix will automatically create a new video focusing on that person from the footage it has.
While Microsoft focused on all the cool automatic features, you can still drill down and customize your video, changing filters, adding text, adding motion, removing clips, rearranging video clips, and choosing different soundtracks. The automatic and manual features work in tandem with each other. Add a new soundtrack and Story Remix will automatically rearrange the footage to match the beats of the song.
The Windows Story Remix app can import 3D models from the Remix 3D Community, also used for Paint 3D. You can integrate animated 3D models into your videos. Microsoft will be releasing APIs that allow other developers to integrate the Remix 3D community into their apps.
Spotify and iTunes Will Be Available in the Windows Store
Microsoft recently announced Windows S, a version of Windows 10 that will only run apps from the Windows Store. It’s targeted at schools, providing a more minimal version of Windows. You can pay an additional $50 to Windows Professional, enabling desktop apps.
Showing that the Windows Store isn’t dead yet, Microsoft announced that Spotify and iTunes will be available in the Windows Store, providing the complete experience of buying media and managing iPhones and iPads. iTunes will use Microsoft’s Project Centennial, which can package desktop apps as UWP Store apps. Microsoft is clearly hoping other developers follow.
Motion Controllers Are Coming for Windows Mixed Reality Headsets
Microsoft announced motion controllers for Windows Mixed Reality headsets, which Microsoft enabled with the first Creators Update. They don’t need a separate sensor—the sensors are integrated in to the headsets themselves. You’ll be able to buy a headset and motion controller set for $399. Acer will be the first manufacturer shipping this combination, but other PC manufacturers are sure to follow.
Microsoft previously announced it would sell these headsets starting at $299, and they’re being released—with and without the motion controllers—in the 2017 holiday season.
While Microsoft largely focused on HoloLens, these less expensive Mixed Reality headsets that can run on a wide range of PCs are much more interesting.
Ubuntu is Easier to Install, and openSUSE and Fedora Will Be Available
Microsoft is making it easier to set up Ubuntu for Windows 10 by bringing Ubuntu to the Windows Store. This is the same Ubuntu Bash environment you can install on current versions of Windows 10, but easier to install.
Fedora and openSUSE are also coming to the Store, so it’s easier to set up different Linux environments.
Microsoft also announced a larger number of features that make it easier for developers to develop applications. Microsoft’s BUILD event is a conference intended for developers, after all—but we’re sure to see lots more user-focused features appear in the Insider Previews in the coming months.