Windows 10 is now running on 500 million devices. Sure, Microsoft had to pester and annoy many people to upgrade, but now there are that many more users who will get the newly announced Fall Creators Update. That’s the placeholder name for Microsoft’s next big Windows 10 update, which as you might guess, will roll out this fall. Microsoft announced the new update at the Build conference, and it might look a lot different.
Perhaps the most prominent change for the average user will be the launch of the Microsoft Fluent Design System, previously known as Project Neon. This is the latest refinement to Microsoft’s UI style that started as “Metro” in the Windows Phone 7 era. Microsoft describes Fluent Design as having five components: light, depth, motion, material, and scale. Apps designed with this methodology are supposed to use layering of UI elements to indicate the relationship between different parts of the app. Motion is used to give “context” to your actions. Microsoft says it will produce more first-party apps with the Fluent Design System than it did with Metro, which should give other developers more examples of how to make their own apps.
If this sounds vaguely familiar, that’s because Google talks about similar ideas when describing its own Material Design. There are other parallels, too. Like Google, Microsoft wants Fluent Design to become a cross-platform design language. So, after using a Microsoft Fluent Design System app on a desktop, you should be able to operate it just as well on a tablet or even in VR. Part of that is the use of depth, which brings back some of the transparency that was lost in recent iterations.
The Fall Creators Update will also bring a feature called Timeline that changes the way recent apps are organized. As the name implies, Timeline provides a visual record of recent apps and activities, which could be a more natural way of picking up where you left off. This and other new Windows 10 features are part of Microsoft’s Graph platform. Graph is currently rather ill-defined, but appears to be the company’s name for cross-device features.
Cortana also figures into Graph — Microsoft says its personal assistant will be able to understand what you’re working on and offer to resume a document or task when you log into a different machine. For example, it could help you pick up a project seamlessly when switching from a personal to work PC. Files stored in OneDrive will also be listed on all your logged in PCs, even if they’re not synced locally. Microsoft killed this feature in early Windows 10 builds, much to the chagrin of testers.
Microsoft is also tweaking one of the most basic features of a computer: copy and paste. In the upcoming version of Windows 10, the clipboard will be getting a cloud-powered boost. Content copied on your PC can be instantly available on other devices, including smartphones. It’s likely this will be somehow tied into Cortana and its new resume features.
The Fall Creators Update will start hitting PCs later this year. Hopefully we get a little more detail on these features before the launch.