Updated: December 4, 2017
Several weeks ago, Microsoft released the fall edition of their so-called Creators Update, build number 1709. After waiting for the noise and dust to settle, I embarked on testing the new version of the operating system. Technically, it's supposed to be the same product, but with the whole agile-mantra product cycle, you never know.
So far, my impression of Windows 10 is okay - not too good, not too bad, in line with the predecessors, albeit with some extra annoyances, a less productive UI, more online and touch nonsense, and decent security. The previous Creators Update didn't bring anything too drastic to the table. Let's see what this one does. After me, brave people.
This did not work too well. First, it was long. Almost three hours to complete, then three reboots, and another two hours of data churning before it was done. The initial phase was extra long because the update failed the first time for some reason, and the system had to download all the data again and run the process all over.
Installation Failure: Windows failed to install the following update with error 0x8024200D: Feature update to Windows 10, version 1709.
Eventually, I had the desktop up and running. Yay.
New things ... and people
The one thing I noticed right away is the people icon in the task bar, close to the system tray. This opens the most ethnically diverse GUI in the history of mankind, with so many teeth-whitened smiles I felt a need to scrub my own dentures with bleach right away.
My people? What is this nonsense? WHY did you touch my desktop? I did not have any Metro crap running before the update, so why should there be anything new or changed to my defaults afterwards? This is typical 1953-era foot-in-the-door sleaze sales psychology. If I see a shiny app, I might use it, so let's carpet bomb the users with pointless apps, perhaps we can snag a few poor souls.
First, with the sad demise of Windows Phone, which truly is a great loss, as it was the best phone interface around, and I still blithely use my Lumia 950, there really is no need to keep promoting the Metro apps, now is there? Second, do not touch my defaults. It's an intrusion.
At the moment I'm not running Windows 10 on any important system - I use the earlier two releases for that. Now, one day I will probably be forced to buy Windows 10 and have it installed on some new hardware I get. I will sort out everything posh and dandy as I like it. And then, one day, after a long and arduous update, I may suddenly get some new and useless thing added to my VERY static production setup. And then I'm going to really get upset.
You can disable this monumentally pointless People app or whatever by changing the Taskbar settings. Basically, do not display sub-IQ 100 features. That's the gist of it. Of course, this is not the only change. A few services had gone back to running, and a whole slew of Metros apps that I've uninstalled are back. So utterly pointless.
Productivity on the down low
This is a side note observation, but it is a very important one. Modern operating systems are perhaps more ... modern than in the past, but they come with a heavy price of degraded productivity for the sake of visual minimalism. Part of the blame rests with the touch mania, as moronic concepts intrude into the desktop world. Then, even Microsoft does not seem to understand the difference between functional and aesthetic minimalism.
If I look at my Windows 7 - or even Windows 8 - systems. Updates usually take about 30 minutes to finish, with a single reboot. Now, you get multiple reboots and many hours of lost productivity. I treat my setups seriously, and therefore view any loss of time due to horrible software design as a personal affront. I view this whole agile religion as complete nonsense, and I cannot begin to express my utmost disdain.
This is probably the most useful thing in the Fall Creators Update. Microsoft already has the bestest security product in the world, and that's its super-cool EMET utility. I have used it pretty much since early days, and still continue to do so on every Windows box I have. The program is hands-free, lightweight, designed to stop bad code from running, and it does not differentiate between goodies and baddies, only healthy and unhealthy code. Essentially, EMET will stop exploits, even if they come from legitimate programs that are misbehaving and using illegal instructions. EMET is also very useful in preventing infections in this same manner.
In Build 1709, EMET no longer runs or installs - its functionality has been replaced by integration into the Windows Defender Security Center - this is separate from the largely useless Windows Defender anti-malware program. You now have the ability to tweak mitigations for the entire system or individual programs through this dashboard.
Overall, seems to work fine - very similar in spirit to EMET. You can set system and per-program settings. There are a lot of available mitigations, and it can be a little complicated. Worry not, we will have a complete and detailed tutorial on this.
And here, the Reign of Touch strikes again. Compare, if you will, the old EMET GUI and the new Exploit Mitigation dashboard in Windows 10. In EMET, a tool designed by people who value functionality first and foremost, you could see the entire matrix of capabilities for your listed programs and tick/untick the boxes very quickly, elegantly.
In the new overlarge, touchesque UI, you need to open every program separately, go through a long list of options, and slide the toggle on/off. At this time, you don't have any visibility into how your other programs are configured, and you probably shouldn't try to remember some 22 different options.
Again, this is less productive than before. Time consuming and comes with reduced situational awareness. The same applies to the new Settings menu versus the good ole Control Panel. Extra mouse clicks. Windows 8 had the moronic Start Menu, which again, added more actions than you had to do in previous versions of Windows to search or find items in your system, or even launch programs.
Stepping out of the review for a moment
Yes, I understand that on SMARTPHONES, screen equity is precious and you need to declutter the view, so hiding things does help in some situations. Also, the human chimps using these devices are barely one step above our closest primate relative, so the whole notion of efficiency is irrelevant. But for people with IQ exceeding two digits, the trend is alarming, annoying, exhausting, insulting, pointless. We truly are charging toward Idiocracy full steam ahead.
Back to Windows 10 ... other things
Well, not much else. VR and gaming stuff, nothing that you'll notice unless you're on the far end of the gaming spectrum. Even most hardcore gamers will probably not be using any fancy 3D technology. Some might, but these are capability designed for the future and not the current gaming landscape. In this regard, a smart move on behalf of Microsoft.
You can sync your non-Microsoft phones. But this also requires that you use a Microsoft account, and that you be signed in with it. Since I'm using a local account, I am unable to fully test this feature. Technically though, not sure what the amazing value is except to send an occasional web page to and fro.
I know the world belongs to idiots. I know that Microsoft and every other company out there is making money from these people. I also know that I don't represent even the 0.1% of the user base, and my invectives are lost in the sea of profit and greed. As we move deeper into the digital age, the products will become more restricted, more abstract and stupider. The same happened to EVERYTHING in the past, time and again. Once you give it out to the masses, it's no longer usable. You need to tune your brain to the ape frequency, and for smart people, this is a difficult thing.
From a purely technical perspective, Windows 10 Creators Update 1709 is an okay release, with a troubled but eventually successful setup, a bunch of useless little extras to justify the fervent rolling-release religion, and excellent security features. Disrupting defaults is quite annoying, and I do not think there's a sane way around it. This is our future. Anyway, yet another update, and you get more of the same. The one thing that truly redeems this build is the exploits mitigation integration. The rest is just peanuts for the plebes. See you.