The other day my Microsoft Surface Pro 4 informed me that the Window 10 Creators Update – the first major update since August last year when version 1607 was rolled out – would be … What? Coming soon? Would start downloading in the background? It wasn’t entirely clear, and I too late thought of grabbing a screen shot. Nothing much happened so I forgot about it. But on Good Friday my device informed me that the update was ready to install.

First impression? Microsoft is being conciliatory. After some bad customer relations in recent times over semi-forced upgrades to Windows 10, and some ongoing irritation over the inability to defer maintenance upgrades to a time when one’s deadlines make it practicable, this update certainly started with kindness. It was ready to be installed, I was told, so did I want to go ahead now with a restart? Or wait for some other time? This update, it said, would take longer than usual.

I decided not to wait, but apparently I glided my mouse pointer over the wrong thing and the update screen went away. But it was easy to go to Windows Update in Settings, and there it was: “Feature update to Windows 10, version 1703”. Again, nice language: “This update is ready to install! We need your help deciding when to restart so we can finish up.” Followed by a “Restart now” button or an option to “Schedule the restart”.

The scheduling isn’t open ended. I could set any time for any day up to a week from now. That ought to provide sufficient flexibility for anyone. We all have to sleep sometimes.

Installation

But I just clicked “Restart now”. And then there was the wait and the blue “Restarting” screen was displayed with its dots chasing each other around a circle.

My Surface Pro 4 is the lowest specified model available: M3 processor and 4GB of RAM. So it’s not going to be the fastest at upgrading. But it does have a solid state drive, so it’s likely faster than any computer which uses a hard disk drive as its C: drive.

After a couple of minutes a “Configuring update for Windows 10, 16% complete” message appeared. By four and half minutes it reached 35%. Then it did the usual Windows thing of sitting there for a couple more minutes before suddenly racing through 66%, 71%, 81%, 87%. After sitting on 100% for a minute or so (I’m not sure Microsoft and I fully agree on the meaning of 100%), the system rebooted. That was just over nine minutes after the start.

The second bout of installation

But that didn’t mean it had finished. A second round of bluescreen updates started. “Working on Updates: 3% [it says as I type]. Don’t turn off your PC. This will take a while.”

At some point between 33 and 38 minutes from when I hit the “Restart now” button (I stepped out to descale my washing machine, as one does) all that stuff finished and the computer wanted to log me on. After doing that, it delivered some uplifting messages on the virtues of Windows 10 while it performed background tasks, and then after a minute or so, had my desktop open with a “Welcome to the Windows 10 Creators Update” message opening in Edge, the Microsoft web browser (along with an invitation for me to change the default browser to Edge, since I have that set to Chrome.)

Changes

So, it’s a “Creators Update”. There are plenty of new features, including Windows Paint being upgraded to support 3D, a games mode in the Xbox app to make sure your game gets most of your computer’s power rather it being spent on background processes, a blue light reduction feature (the current fad which is popping up everywhere) and significant advances in “inking”. I shall explore some of these in coming days and weeks, but there are a few nerdy things that popped out at me which I’d like to mention. Some are welcome, at least one not so much.

The Quick Access menu — left: my desktop computer with the old Windows 10 version; right: the Surface Pro 4 with update

First, the Windows-X pop up menu. You know about that don’t you? Windows key and X and a menu appears over the Windows logo at the left of the task bar, giving you quick access to a number of useful systems type functions. It can also be brought up by right-clicking on the Windows logo.

Some of the items have been renamed, but two items have been switched. Instead of the Command Prompt (plus the Admin) version, you’re now offered PowerShell. Command Prompt is basically a DOS box in which you can type commands like “dir” or “type file.txt ! more”. PowerShell is an enhanced version of that more suited to people familiar with Unix/Linux and other power users.