Unlike Windows 8, it's been easy to follow along with the Windows 10 journey and see how the OS has developed, from an early work in progress, through the release version and the major updates. With the latest Creators Update, Windows 10 sees more new features at once than ever and improvements to several existing tools. There are few situations in which we wouldn't unequivocally recommend Windows 10 – but remember that you now have to pay to upgrade.
Another key idea behind Windows 10 is also sound: that it should be available on as many devices as possible. That's why there's Xbox One and HoloLens and the Internet of Things version that works on a Raspberry Pi come in; Microsoft is embracing the way PCs have moved away from the traditional idea of what a PC is.
Windows 10 performance continues to impress, as does its reliability, and Microsoft has carried on evolving the interface, which now satisfies both the Windows 7 faithful and the few Windows 8.1 fans.
Core features like search (through Cortana) are absolutely rock solid. The Settings app (a disappointment even in Windows 8.1) remains a worthy replacement for the Control Panel. It's testament to the newfound strength of Settings that, while the Control Panel is still present, you'll hardly ever go to it.
Under the covers, security is improved even more now with Creators Update, and with Windows Hello and biometric support, we're on the verge of ditching passwords (if more websites and apps join in). Transparency has also seen a huge boost here, with a brand new out-of-the-box experience.
The Windows Ink and gaming improvements this year are perhaps the most important to those respective ends of Windows 10 yet, and Paint 3D brings a whole new kind of creation tool to the masses.
Even in introducing some new features, Microsoft has done so in an incomplete way, as mentioned in our impressions of Edge. We’re still not sold on switching over. The new tab management experience is welcome, but feels a little incomplete. Meanwhile, the e-reader upgrades are massive, but feel as if they’re serving a niche that’s long been filled.
Also, while we appreciate the improvements to transparency, it still doesn’t change the fact that Microsoft is collecting lots of data about your use of its software.
Finally, we’re bummed that some key upgrades, like the major Cortana improvements, aren’t functional in time for this review.
Ultimately, something for everyone in Windows 10 Creators Update, from Night Light to improvements to gaming and Windows Ink, as well as a new e-reader in Edge and a Paint 3D app.
That said, it still has its share of irritations, and there are some people who are so comfortable on Windows 7 (or even 8.1) that they won't want to upgrade until those OS’s get long in the tooth (or they replace the older peripherals for which hardware makers haven't put out device drivers).
Microsoft remains committed to the idea of universal apps, which now run on Xbox One (and HoloLens, for the few people who have access to it) as well as on Windows Mobile, and Store apps in general (which, confusingly, might not).
The quality of these remains mixed: Mail and Calendar are competent but a long way behind the versions on Windows Mobile with Outlook, Groove is shaping up to be an excellent media player (although you need to pay for a Groove Pass or put your music on OneDrive to make the most of it) and the Skype is at last fully usable. Edge has also graduated into a viable state. And not only have desktop apps not been pushed aside, Microsoft is working on making them look better on high DPI, multi-screen systems.
But mostly, the Creators Update solidifies the success Windows 10 has shown itself to be over the last year. Installation is simple, performance is generally excellent, security is improved (with more options for businesses) – and the most compelling thing about Windows 10 is that it just works. There's not really a learning curve as there was with Windows 8 or 8.1. Even if people don't get to grips with features like the taskbar search or Task View, it won't actually take anything away from their core experience of the OS. Pretty much everything that most people will need is in the Start menu or Action Center.
Plus, knowing that there’s even more to come after the Creators Update instills some good faith that Windows 10 will continue to improve.