While making things in 3D or blowing them up is a jolly good time. There’s so much more going on in Windows 10, especially with what Edge has become in the Creators Update in tandem with Microsoft’s release of a Books section to the Windows Store. But, let’s start with some minor improvements to Microsoft’s voice assistant.
The new changes to Cortana are less about using the service directly and more about how it can simplify how you use your PC. If you’re using Outlook or Office 365 as your email client, Cortana can read those messages and create reminders for you based on the language of your emails that contain commitments to deadlines and other promises.
Apparently, Cortana is also key in holding onto whatever apps and documents you had open, and where you were in those apps and documents, if you return to your PC within 30 minutes of locking it. But, that’s not really all that exciting, as your computer generally already does this, unless you have it set to sign you out every time the device locks.
However, Cortana’s ability to do this even after rebooting is far more impressive (at least on paper), since any caching is generally wiped upon reboot. In this early version of the Creators Update, we weren’t able to to reproduce this feature, so hopefully it will be ready come the update’s April 11 roll out.
There’s no denying that Microsoft is funneling a lot of energy into making its new Edge browser competitive with that of today’s king, Google Chrome. Most of the changes this time around focus on things that Microsoft has noticed its competitors lack. For starters, the way tabs are handled in Edge has been vastly improved.
Tab preview has existed in Edge for a long time, but in a singular fashion. Now, a downward arrow next to the “new tab” button produces a preview of every open tab. Of course, these are just tiny thumbnails captured when you first accessed the web page – they’re not dynamic and do not update.
Even better, you can now take a set of tabs and stow them away for later access with a new, dedicated button. Once you do that, you can view those tabs in addition to any other sets you’ve “set aside,” with the option to restore those sets of tabs, add them to your Favorites or share them via email or OneNote. You can also delete sets of saved tabs or individual ones.
However, mind that restoring them brings back the cached version of those tabs from when you last accessed them, so you’ll need to refresh the pages. If you’re going to do this anyway, this is a step Microsoft should eliminate.
Another bummer is that you cannot name your saved sets of tabs. While you see them in the same preview format that’s available above the navigation bar, it would make sense to be able to name them according to web workflow, like “Work” and, say, “Gaming Broadcast Setup.” If organization is what you’re going for, you gotta’ have a label maker, so to speak.
At any rate, the new tab management tools are certainly helpful, especially for people who browse tabs with their mouse, rather than with keyboard shortcuts, but we’re dubious of whether they’re compelling enough to pull folks away from Chrome. That said, it all works fluidly. Plus, those tabs are saved even after closing Edge.
Also, the new sharing design language is a welcome change that makes as much sense in the desktop environment as it does on mobile. In other words, it’s basically the Windows 10 Mobile, window-based sharing format come to Windows 10 proper.
As you may already know, the Creators Update turns Edge into a full-fledged e-reader, supporting the EPUB file format. This update comes in conjunction with Microsoft launching a Books section in the Windows Store. The pricing and selection for which is comparable to rivals, replete with a collection of free literary classics as well as staff recommendations.
And, the link between buying them and having them available for reading in Edge is practically instant, with Edge even offering a link back to the Windows Store to buy more books. The reader itself is quite robust, with tables of contents, bookmarking, search, text controls and even a text-to-speech read aloud function. And, the controls are silky smooth to boot.
Having turned Edge into a fully-fledged e-reader tool is admirable, but you have to wonder how many users will benefit from or take advantage of this feature. If people aren’t using e-readers like Kindles, aren’t they using tablets like an iPad or Android tablet? Since there are so few Windows tablets around, we doubt many will see this as a useful addition, it being a niche that’s long been filled.
Now, if Microsoft were to expand PDF support for Edge to enable file editing and more, we’d be much more excited about Edge’s expanding file compatibility.