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article imageMicrosoft begins rolling out the Windows 10 Anniversary Update

By James Walker     Aug 2, 2016 in Technology
Microsoft has begun the worldwide rollout of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, bringing new features and an extensive roster of improvements to the 350 million Windows 10 devices in use. It is launching gradually in staged waves.
Microsoft first announced the Anniversary Update back in March at the company's BUILD developers conference. It is the first major update for the year-old operating system since November, wrapping up all the new features introduced in Insider Preview builds since into one public release.
To save on server load, Microsoft is rolling the update out in waves. Over the coming days, it will be available to all Windows 10 PCs, tablets and phones. The Xbox One has already received its own summer update, launched a few days ago.
One of the most major new features in the Anniversary Update is the improvements to Cortana on desktop and mobile. The digital assistant now offers "proactive" notifications that anticipate your actions. You'll be shown nearby restaurants for lunch going into the afternoon and film suggestions as you enter the early evening.
Cortana can now synchronise notifications between your Windows 10 PCs and Windows and Android smartphones, allowing you to dismiss new message alerts from your PC while you work. You can also send a text message from your PC, allowing you to stay focused and avoid the need to pick up your phone.
New features coming to Windows 10 in  Anniversary Update
New features coming to Windows 10 in 'Anniversary Update'
It's not all about voice input though. People with stylus-equipped devices will now be able to make the most of their pen by using Windows Ink. An entirely new approach to note-taking, Windows Ink is a platform that simplifies stylus input on Windows. It is accessible from the notification tray and opens as a sidebar, providing you with a complete ink workspace to write and doodle in.
A digital sketchpad enables you to use ink in the same way as the real world. You can drag out tools such as rulers and use them as you'd expect. Integration with Sticky Notes and Cortana lets you scribble down notes on the desktop and have them automatically added as reminders to your calendar. The experience is designed to be similar to a real notebook, giving you a seamless way of making notes with a pen.
Windows Hello on Windows 10 will log users in instantly with biometric authentication of their finge...
Windows Hello on Windows 10 will log users in instantly with biometric authentication of their fingerprint, iris or face
© Microsoft Windows
Another unique Windows component has also received an update. Windows Hello's biometric authentication system can now be incorporated into websites, allowing you to sign in to supporting sites using your device's fingerprint sensor or iris scanner. Companion devices can be registered with Windows Hello through the new Authenticator app, letting you automatically sign in to your PC when your phone is nearby.
Microsoft Edge is being improved in several ways. Beyond optimisations to processor and battery usage, the browser now supports third-party extensions. A limited selection are available at launch but more are expected to be offered soon. Amazon Assistant, AdBlock, LastPass and Pinterest have already brought their extensions to Microsoft Edge.
Xbox One Summer Update
Xbox One Summer Update
The Anniversary Update also contains improvements for gamers, primarily a revised Xbox app that better suits the PC gaming ecosystem. Microsoft says 19 billion hours have been spent by Windows 10 users playing games and it's committed to making the operating system an integral part of the Xbox ecosystem. More Xbox games will now be available on Windows 10, including Xbox Play Anywhere titles that can be bought once and used on both Xbox One and Windows PCs.
Finally, the update includes a wide-ranging series of improvements, interface changes and bug fixes that will benefit every Windows 10 user. From the revised virtual desktops switcher, enabling you to pin apps to every desktop, to the redesigned Start menu, now with the All Apps list displayed first by default, Microsoft has reworked Windows 10 based on the feedback supplied by users in its first year of availability.
Notifications have been made richer and more interactive, there's more options to customise themes and colours and the whole OS has been tuned for speed and efficiency. The update is rolling out worldwide now, although it may be a while until it lands on your machine. The Settings app will notify you when it's ready to install.
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