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Windows 10 1803 Spring Creators Update released

On April 10th, 2018, Microsoft released version 1803 of Windows 10, also known as "Redstone 4". Its official name is Spring Creators Update, not to be confused with Fall Creators Update (1709) or Creators Update (1703). Information Systems and Computing (ISC) has been testing preview builds of version 1803 on several different hardware configurations in the Standards Lab, and after a short round of testing yesterday afternoon on the release build, have found no major issues. However, ISC strongly recommends that all University users considering updating their devices adopt a wait and see" approach and continue to use earlier versions of the OS for at least a few days; this will allow for additional time to identify bugs and incompatibilities not initially discovered. ISC will update the community on the status of Spring Creators Update no later than Tuesday, April 24th.

As with previous major Windows 10 updates, Microsoft will move the Windows 10 Pro and Home user base to Spring Creators Update in a phased process via Automatic Update starting today, with users of Windows 10 Enterprise being given more control of if and when they receive the update. Spring Creators Update also continues in the trend of the last few major updates in that it is more of an iterative change than a major overhaul; the changes themselves are similar in scope to last October's Fall Creators Update.

Continuing with the trend started in the Fall Creators Update, the Spring Creators Update continues to incorporate more of Microsoft's Fluent Design System into the UI of Windows. Menus, Edge, the touch keyboard, and the Action Center are just a few of the areas of the OS to add Fluent Design System elements.

Many of the changes in Spring Creators Update are in the Settings App. As with previous iterations of Windows 10, Microsoft continues to merge more of the traditional Control Panel elements into the Settings app, and Sound and Font settings are some of the most notable additions this time around. Another addition to the Settings is the "Startup" function under the "Apps" category; this duplicates the functionality of the Startup Programs feature previously found only in the Task Manager. A further change to the Graphics settings allows those with multiple GPUs to specify which GPUs should be used with which applications. Lastly, under the "Updates & Security" category, users can limit bandwidth for downloading or uploading updates in the background.

One of the most notable features of Spring Creators Update is the Timeline, an addition to the Task View (normally accessed by Windows + Tab) that allows users to see not only current tasks, but recent tasks as well. For example, the Timeline might list recently visited websites or recently opened Office documents, allowing users to quickly continue recently performed tasks that might not be currently open. These tasks can also sync across multiple devices.

Spring Creators Update also adds native support for Progressive Web Apps, (PWAs) web-based applications that behave similarly to native applications and can be run offline. This support is added both to Edge, but also to the Windows Store, where the addition of PWAs will add a significant number of apps to the rather lackluster selection currently available. Whether or not this move indicates a move from Microsoft away from the "Modern" app framework in favor of PWAs is not yet clear, but is worth monitoring. In addition, the Windows store now allows the downloading of fonts and language packs.

A new feature, dubbed "Nearby Sharing" allows for the sharing of files from apps that support it. Nearby Sharing operates in very much the same way as AirDrop on MacOS and iOS. However, at present Nearby Sharing's functionality is limited--transfers are slow and require the use of both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and sharing only works between two Windows 10 systems. Nearby Sharing is also disabled by default and must be manually enabled. Future revisions may allow for improvements or sharing from apps on other platforms, such as the Edge browser on iOS or Android.

 "Focus Assist" is a new feature superseding the previous "Quiet Hours" feature that suppresses automatic notifications. Previously Quiet Hours needed to be manually turned on or off; Focus Assist can be configured to automatically suppress notifications at specific times, such as when duplicating one's screen onto a projector during a presentation.

In the realm of enterprise functionality, Spring Creators Update adds some security and privacy improvements. Most notably is the rollout of Windows Defender Application Guard to Windows 10 Pro systems. Windows Defender Application Guard is a function previously only available on Windows 10 Enterprise that allows Edge to run in a virtualized Hyper-V-based container, effectively quarantining the process from the rest of the system to defend against malicious sites.

In the new Windows Diagnostic Data Viewer, which can be enabled in Windows' Privacy settings, Microsoft has addressed some long-standing complaints about the manner in which Windows 10 "dials home" to Microsoft, sending data about the user's system using Windows' Universal Telemetry Client. While the Telemetry Client still cannot be completely turned off, the Diagnostic Data Viewer provides a window into exactly what information is being sent to Microsoft and when.

Lastly, for those that use the Unix Subsystem for Windows, there are some substantial improvements in that area in Windows 10 Spring Creators Update. Windows now natively supports Unix sockets, and Unix tasks can now run in the background. The Windows Subsystem for Linux can now be started remotely, and Linux applications can be run from scheduled tasks. In addition, Windows now natively supports the curl and tar commands from the command line.