Will Windows 10 Creators Update Improve Security?
Windows 10 Creators Update is being rolled out, but will it incorporate significant improvements to security and privacy? I am not convinced security will greatly improve, but I do think this will be the most secure and usable Windows yet. The legends in Redmond have created another update package, chalked full of new capabilities, tweaks, and improvements. The question on my mind is around cybersecurity. Will it incorporate new capabilities to keep us safer, more secure, and respect our privacy? Well, here is what’s included in this update:
New Features and Experiences
The update has new features, such as Paint 3D, to create 3D objects and share them with the community. It now includes foundational pieces to support Mixed Reality hardware and experiences. The Action Center is being refined, which will make granular changes to volume and brightness more accessible. Taking an idea from phones, it has a night mode that reduces the blue light from the screen at nighttime. New tab grouping capabilities will help those who struggle managing many open screens in their Edge browser. These are good additions, but I am more interested in security and privacy.
Windows Defender and Windows Firewall appear to remain basically unchanged. These are standard with Windows 10 and continue to persist with the update. There is no indication anything is really improved with these two foundational pieces except upgrading the engine from a classic win32 to the universal platform. Functionally, it will continue to look for malicious activities as it did in the past. The good news is they are included in the product and no other purchases are required. Although I always recommend looking at other security products to make sure you have the right level of security.
Hello. The smart login assistant just gets better. More support for Windows Hello is included in the update. This is a nice integrated feature primarily for tablets and laptops. It leverages device cameras and fingerprint scanners with the login process to reduce the friction people experience when unlocking their device. Security, usability, and the perfect price point. Brilliant!
Cortana: Spy or Assistant?
They have enhanced the reach and visibility of Cortana, the onboard engine to assist users with an artificial intelligent assistant. It creates a tighter integration between interfaces and what the assistant can do. The goal will be to allow Cortana to do anything which users now use settings, configuration boxes, and menus to accomplish; all with voice commands. Sounds great for some, but I prefer my PC to not be watching everything I do or say. I am still looking for the OFF button for Cortana. In a previous post, I talked about how to manually disable Microsoft’s persistent agent. Giving the assistant more power and control, without instituting oversight and manageability, is not what I consider an upgrade in the right direction.
As part of the update, a privacy review will be conducted and the user empowered to know more of what is gathered and shared. This will be in the form of configuring features like diagnostics, speech recognition, location, and advertising settings. Microsoft has been deeply criticized for its lack of transparency in Windows 10 when it comes to privacy. So, this is a valuable turn to begin to address concerns. Expect Microsoft to provide a more detailed summary of data collected from basic and full levels of diagnostics.
With the introduction of Windows 10, security updates became draconian. They were forced upon users and sometimes required a reboot at inconvenient times. Customers spoke up and the Windows team listened. With the Creators Update, users will once again be given options to defer or delay updates. This is a wonderful reprieve. I get why they shifted to mandatory updates in the first place. Users are terrible at managing them and put themselves — and others — at risk. But it went a bit too far, and this seems like a much more reasonable balance. Very nice to see.
Download the Windows 10 Creator Update
Update at your convenience with the Windows 10 Upgrade Assistant: DOWNLOAD UPDATE ASSISTANT
Microsoft has another major update planned for 2017. I hope it will bring in better capabilities for enhances malware protection, network security, user authentication (more biometric factors), and the ability to control Cortana.