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Microsoft Boosts Phone Linking in Windows 10 Fall Creators Update


Microsoft is coming up on its self-imposed deadline to launch the Fall Creators Update, which has an estimated delivery date in September. Given this relatively short time frame, we’d have expected Windows 10 Insider builds to be feature-complete by now, and we’ve covered what some of those features are and what benefits they’ll offer. Microsoft, however, seems to have other ideas. The new Build 16251 contains several new features and capabilities debuting for the first time.

First off, there’s a new option to sync Android devices and Windows 10 PCs, with support for Apple’s iPhone arriving “very, very soon.” Here’s how Microsoft describes the process:

After you’ve linked your phone, just go to your phone and start browsing the web. When you are at a website you want to view on your PC, simply invoke the native share experience on your phone and share the website to the “Continue on PC” option… Once invoked, it will first ask you to sign in with your Microsoft Account. It is important you use the same account you are using on your PC. Next it will ask you if you want to “Continue now” or “Continue later”. If you choose “Continue now”, the website will magically open on the linked PC. If you choose to “Continue later”, the website will show up under Action Center for you to get to later.

ContinuePC

The three-step process for linking an Android device and a Win10 PC.

Next up is the ability for Cortana to display results without opening a web browser. I don’t use Cortana — I’m not interested in digital assistants, given the kind of data they can passively collect and the complete lack of parity between consumers and companies when it comes to ToS and EULA terms — but if you use the feature, you’ll likely find this helpful. In the Fall Creators Update, Cortana can display many different kinds of information, including movie times, celebrity news, stock prices, flight status, and the weather, without ever opening a browser window. In the event that she can’t retrieve the information you’re looking for, the option to open a web search is still available.

Cortana

Cortana can also now restart, turn off, sign off, shutdown, or lock your PC. This is a nifty capability ,and Microsoft notes that in some cases, Cortana will ask you to confirm your decision (if, for example, you ask her to shut the PC off). This feature seems ripe for practical jokes from siblings to co-workers.

Next, there’s what Microsoft is calling an improved Boot Up Experience. The OS will now allow you to automatically log back into your PC after you reboot it via actions taken on the Start Menu or via command line. It’s an optional feature and it definitely won’t work in higher-security environments. The two new command line options are:

shutdown /sg
Shutdown the computer. On the next boot, restart any registered applications.

shutdown /g
Full shutdown and restart the computer. After the system is rebooted, restart any registered applications.

PortraitMode

Finally, Windows Continuum — the option to share data between the OS on your Windows Phone and your desktop OS — is getting an update to work properly in portrait mode. Previously, holding your phone in portrait mode didn’t really do anything; all data and information was still presented in landscape form. You’ll still have to activate portrait mode yourself, and you’ll need to unplug and replug your external monitor (if present) when you switch between portrait and landscape. Still, the fact that the OS can do this at all is a nice nod to the handful of Windows 10 Phone users still holding onto hope.

There’s also a full range of bug updates and fixes available here. One noteworthy patch caught my eye: “We fixed an issue resulting in explorer.exe using an unexpectedly high amount of CPU in recent flights when certain apps such as Microsoft Edge were running.” This is something I’ve periodically seen happen on my own Windows 10 installation if Edge is left running. Hopefully today’s update fixes that issue.

GM-TP

One last tidbit: The previously added Game Monitor option, which appears to be some kind of global anti-cheat software product, has been renamed “TruePlay,” but is not currently active. While it’s meant to prevent player cheating, it’s not clear if this is a developer-centric initiative to provide hooks and executable monitoring at the OS level, or if MS sees the feature as something they might require to allow Xbox One’s and PCs to play against each other in multi-player. There are other options as well, but the company has been mum on what its plans are.



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