Microsoft today announced that the free Windows 10 Fall Creators Update and the first Windows Mixed Reality headsets will begin rolling out on October 17. For those keeping track, the update will be a Windows 10 build between 16278 and 16353 — the company hasn’t released the final one yet.
The company first unveiled the Fall Creators Update at its Build 2017 developer conference in May. The free upgrade includes improvements to Windows Inking, Photos and Videos, OneDrive files on demand, gaming features, security, accessibility, and the addition of Windows Mixed Reality.
Here is a quick rundown on the new features you can expect in the Fall Creators Update:
- Windows Inking: You can ink directly onto PDFs, Smart Ink uses artificial intelligence to automatically perfect your squares or turn boxes into a table for you, and Find my Pen does exactly that when you misplace your pen.
- Photos and Videos: The Photos app is now better at letting you remix content using photos, videos, music, 3D, and ink.
- OneDrive files on demand: Access your cloud files like any of your other files on your PC, without using up your local storage space.
- Gaming: Game Mode has been updated to let your games use the full processing power of your device as if it was an Xbox game console. New Xbox Play Anywhere games are also coming and include: Cuphead, Forza Motorsport 7, Super Lucky’s Tale, and Middle-earth: Shadow of War.
- Security: Windows Defender now uses cloud intelligence to defend against ransomware and exploits.
- Accessibility: Windows 10 is now more accessible for those with Lou Gehrig’s disease, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that impacts the brain’s ability to control muscles. Eye Control implements eye tracking technology that lets you type and operate a mouse using just your eyes.
- Windows Mixed Reality: Windows 10 now supports mixed reality, which combines the physical and digital worlds without limiting you to a mobile device screen size. Microsoft’s system does not require mounting cameras around the room, but it does require plugging your headset into a PC.
Speaking of mixed reality, back in October 2016 Microsoft revealed that partners Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, and Lenovo would be shipping Windows 10 VR headsets in 2017, starting at $299. At the time, the company didn’t give a specific timeframe for their release, but it has now become clear the October 17 date is not just on the software side.
This week at IFA, Dell unveiled its Visor headset, shipping on October 17, and Lenovo revealed its Explore headset, available “in the coming weeks.” Acer’s and HP’s headsets will be available in time for the holidays (Update: HP tells VentureBeat its headset will also be available on October 17). Only Asus’ headset is slated for spring 2018.
With Windows 10 Mobile dying off, Microsoft is now hoping to push Windows 10 with mixed reality. Windows 10 growth has slowed, and this is the company’s best bet to get it back on track.
Windows 10 was installed on over 75 million PCs in its first four weeks and passed 110 million devices after 10 weeks, 200 million in under six months, 270 million after eight months, 300 million after nine months, 350 million after 11 months, 400 million after 14 months, and 500 million after 21 months.
Microsoft was aiming for 1 billion devices running Windows 10 “in two to three years” but backpedaled on that goal. Indeed, the company did not have a new figure to share today, meaning Windows 10 is still on some 500 million devices.