The Windows 10 Fall Creators Update includes some flashy new features and some upgraded apps for things like image creation. There’s an augmented reality feature, new gaming features and some functions such as the Start Menu have become easier to deal with.
But deep down inside where you can’t see them are new features that make Windows safer and will help preserve your data.
Two of those features, Windows Defender Exploit Guard and Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection have been around in other versions and under other names.
What’s new is that they’re now part of Windows 10 Enterprise and they’re available as part of the update to Windows 10 Creators Update. These features are designed to prevent malware, including ransomware, from working. They’re also intended to work as part of an overall enterprise security solution.
Smaller organizations that aren’t using the enterprise version of Windows are also getting some significant security updates with the Windows update. Perhaps most important is the ransomware protection that comes as part of Windows Defender Antivirus. The new ransomware protection is intended to prevent unauthorized changes to applications and data in Windows.
Windows Defender also provides virus and malware protection that operates in real time. Threat definitions are provided in real time from Microsoft’s cloud services.
The Windows Fall Creators Update also includes new levels of security built into the Edge browser including Windows Defender SmartScreen, which protects against malicious websites and infected downloads.
The Windows Defender Exploit Guard is a holdover from the Enhanced Migration Experience Toolkit, which has been discontinued. The Exploit Guard is a network intrusion detection system that includes a set of intrusion rules and policies that are designed to fight advanced threats including zero-day exploits.
The Exploit Guard is paired with the Windows Defender Application Guard which will isolate any malware that manages to find its way into a Windows computer. AG will then prevent the malware from getting into the corporate network, while also making the nature of the threat visible to the security staff so they can eliminate it.
Application Guard for the Edge browser is designed to launch Edge in a virtual machine if you browse to an unknown or untrusted site. That way, any malware the browser encounters will be confined to the virtual machine and terminated when the virtual machine session ends. Unfortunately, this feature is limited to the enterprise version of Windows 10 and to computers running Hyper-V.
Meanwhile, Windows Defender Device Guard is now being made part of Windows Defender ATP. Device Guard prevents untrusted code from running.
All of the features of the enterprise version of the Fall Creators Update are managed by a single security dashboard that’s part of the Windows Defender Security Center.
There’s also a security center available to standard versions of Windows 10, but it only provides useful information if you’re running Windows Defender antivirus. If you’re running another antivirus application, all you see is a checklist that tells you that your antivirus is running.
In addition to security improvements, the Fall Creators Update includes some features that are useful to business and that can make computers work more efficiently on a company network. One important change is in OneDrive and how it manages files and data.
The new version of OneDrive eliminates the need to download entire folders to any computer that you’re using that signs into the OneDrive cloud service. Instead, you can now set OneDrive so that it works in an on-demand mode in which only the file you need is downloaded to the device. You can also see the files without having to launch a browser.
Somewhat handy for company use is the ability to add up to three contacts to your taskbar. This feature, called My People, gives you instant access via email, Skype or other apps that use contact information. One assumes that you’d choose the three most important people in your life, such as your boss, your assistant, or your life partner for those positions.
Finally, the Fall Creators Update gives you more control over how Windows interacts with your computer. You can see graphical processing unit usage in the Windows Task Manager, which can be important for video production, 3D rendering or handling massive spreadsheets.
You can set limits on the bandwidth that Windows Update uses to keep the update process from flooding your network. You can also control the amount of data that Windows Update consumes in any month.
Of course there are other new features that might come in handy. There’s a new level of integration between Windows and Android devices that will let you hand off tasks between them. There’s a lesser level of integration with iOS devices, but you can still hand off a web page for use on a bigger screen.
There’s a 3D version of Paint that will let you drop a 3D object into another application such as Word or PowerPoint.
Of course there’s the much talked-about mixed reality capability that can merge views of the world with the virtual into a single image. This mode requires some specific hardware, and there’s an app that will check whether you’re got what it takes. I found out that I don’t.
While the Fall Creators Update won’t blow you away because of its visual power, the reality is that the most important improvements are out of sight. And those are the improvements that matter most.