First unveiled earlier this year, the Anniversary Update is Windows 10’s second major feature update since its launch. It contains a wrap-up of all the new features released in preview to Windows Insiders since November and will be a substantial update for consumers.
In a blog post, Microsoft detailed some of the major changes coming in August. It said the update will help people be more productive, stay safer online and have fun through six key areas of innovation across the devices that Windows 10 is available on.
One of the stars of the update is the improvements made to Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant. Cortana will now save key information like where you parked and your flight number and let you recall it at a later point. Reminders can be tagged with images for a more visual alert and Cortana can create reminders automatically from handwritten notes scribbled on the desktop with a stylus.
Microsoft has made it easier to launch Cortana by adding the assistant to the lock screen, letting you interact with your voice without unlocking your PC. Cortana will run in a restricted mode and will prompt you to unlock your PC to access sensitive data.
Further productivity improvements can be found in Microsoft Edge. The new browser is receiving a substantial update to make it a better rival to Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera and others. Microsoft will launch support for browser extensions to consumers, letting you run several popular Chrome extensions within Edge.
Extensions will be downloaded from the Windows Store. The available selection currently includes popular extensions like Pinterest, Amazon, Adblock and LastPass. Many more are expected to arrive in the coming weeks and months as Microsoft has made it easy for Chrome developers to bring their work to Edge.
Windows 10 will become substantially easier to use with a stylus. According to Microsoft, 70 percent of people spend over an hour a day using a pen. With the Anniversary Update, it hopes that some of them will transition to PCs using the styluses paired with devices like its Surface tablet.
Windows Ink is an all-new Windows feature that provides a dedicated Ink Workspace for pen users. You can scribble a note, annotate a screenshot or draw out an idea. Ink Workspace integrates into apps like OneNote and Sticky Notes, allowing you to write down a flight time, address or reminder and have it automatically translated into an actionable Cortana alert.
As announced at E3 earlier this month, the Anniversary Update includes additional Xbox integration features to help gamers get more from their experiences. The Xbox app will be updated with a number of new features, including support for more traditional PC games, and the Xbox Play Anywhere program will let you buy select titles once and play them on PC and Xbox One. Achievements and save-games will automatically synchronise between devices.
Beyond the PC, the Xbox One will receive its own Anniversary Update, introducing Cortana to the console alongside a revised interface. Microsoft has redesigned key elements of the UI to make them more intuitive and easier to access. Top fan requested features including support for background audio playback will also arrive with the Anniversary Update.
Microsoft claims Windows 10 is the most secure Windows ever. Two new security capabilities will make it even safer, protecting consumers and corporations. Windows Hello will let you use stored credentials in apps and websites, letting you login online with a fingerprint or face scan. You’ll also be able to use a companion device like a phone to sign-in to Windows automatically.
To protect against viruses and malware, Windows Defender can be configured to automatically run quick scans of your PC. It will also provide notifications and summaries of threats when scans are completed, something absent from previous versions of the free utility.
Microsoft has announced a range of new features coming to Windows 10 exclusively for Education customers. Teachers will be able to enrol new classroom devices in three steps, without calling for IT support, using a dedicated app.
From there, it will be a simple process to oversee and manage student PCs, allowing teachers to take on the role of system administrators and control how their classes access content. The suite is significant as it represents Windows evolving to rival Google’s Chrome OS, a platform that has unexpectedly come to dominate U.S. education. Its rise has been partially attributed to the ease with which teachers can manage student devices.
Windows 10 Anniversary Update: Coming August 2
There’s much more coming on August 2 than Microsoft has spotlighted today. From notification syncing between desktop PCs and Windows and Android mobile devices to a reworked Messaging and Skype experience, the Anniversary Update is a substantial rethinking of Windows 10 that includes U-turns in a few areas.
Across the operating system, Microsoft has tweaked and refined the interface and available features. It should be faster, more reliable and more secure than the current consumer build, released last November. Companion updates will also be released this summer for Windows 10 Mobile and the Xbox One.
“We are committed to delivering continuous innovation to you: including features that bring Windows Ink and Cortana to the mainstream; a faster, more accessible and more power-efficient Microsoft Edge browser; advanced security features for consumers and enterprises; new gaming experiences and new tools for the modern classroom,” said Microsoft. “Everyone running Windows 10 will get these new features for free.”
According to the company, Windows 10 is now running on over 350 million devices. Customer satisfaction is said to be higher than any previous version of Windows. The operating system has been used collectively for over 135 billion hours since its launch last July.
The Windows 10 Anniversary Update will launch on August 2. Consumers with existing Windows 10 devices will be able to upgrade for free via Windows Update in the Settings app. It will be installed automatically once available. Once the update has been released, Microsoft will start work on the next major Windows 10 features, likely to arrive in November in keeping with last year’s release schedule.