It’s been nearly a year since the release of Windows 10 and the first anniversary on August 2 will bring with it an update that will include massive improvements across the board.
PC users currently running Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 have until July 29 to upgrade to Windows 10 for free.
After that date, if you want to upgrade to Windows 10, you’ll either need to pay for it or buy a new device with Windows 10 pre-installed.
Today there are more than 350 million active devices running Windows 10 which has received the highest level of customer satisfaction than any other Windows operating system.
In the Windows 10 Anniversary Update there are hundreds of changes and upgrades (many of which you can see below) but there are four key areas that deserve special attention.
Windows Hello is the cool feature that can authenticate the user through the camera to provide easy and secure access to your machine.
The security can now also extend to third party applications like Dropbox.
Users can also sign in to a website securely with Windows Hello, but you need to be using Microsoft’s Edge browser.
Cortana is the digital assistant that can now work from the lock screen so you can now do things like ask questions, play music and set reminders.
You can’t ask for sensitive information like emails from the lock screen – you need to unlock the screen first.
But Cortana has improved so much, users can talk to it like it was a real assistant.
Cortana will also now work with third party apps like subscription video on demand service Stan which launched on Windows 10 last week.
It’s possible now to ask Cortana to play shows on Stan by name and also search through programs.
Writing with a pen on a device is nothing new but now Ink goes to the next level. Using a pen on a device is now as natural as a real pen on paper.
It’s quicker and easier to make a note or draw on a screen shot.
Sticky Notes also takes what you write even further so when you write dates, web addresses and make lists they suggested calendar entries, clickable links and reminders.
You can even track a flight by writing the flight number down on a Sticky Note.
In the Sketch Pad you can also add a ruler to draw straight lines. To move it – you use one finger on the and to change the ruler’s angle, you use two fingers.
On the gaming side, Windows 10 integrates even more deeply with Xbox.
Now you can play your Xbox games on any device whether it’s a computer, smartphone or tablet.
The game store is now the same across Xbox, PC and Phone for first party game titles which will be released as applications across all devices.
This offers the full game across all devices and gives the users the ability to start a game on one device and continue on another.
Gaming laptops running Windows 10 can also be connected to a 4K TV and so you can play in ultra high definition resolution.
Here is a full wrap up of the changes that are part of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update:
Windows Ink lets you easily capture ideas and turn them into actions
- Windows Ink makes it quick and easy to take a note, sketch on a screenshot, or draw an idea. You can bring up ink workspaces, even above the lock screen, just by clicking the top of your digital pen.
- Sticky Notes are notes that know what to do. With Cortana enabled, you can set reminders that flow across your devices and reach you at the right time and place, like grocery lists that pop up at the supermarket. Not available in Australia on Aug 2, coming soon.
- Windows Ink works with all kinds of apps, from built-ins like Cortana and Microsoft Edge to creator and maker apps from brands like Adobe.
Windows 10 is the most secure version of Windows, and the Windows 10 Anniversary Update offers new features to help keep customers safe.
- Windows Hello now works with compatible apps like DropBox, so you can sign in fast and password-free. In future it will also work with websites too, as long as you’re using Microsoft Edge.
- Windows Defender, our free anti-malware service, now includes the option to automatically schedule periodic quick scans of your PC; as well as provide new notifications and summaries when scans are complete and threats are found.
For enterprise customers we have two major new security features launching with the Anniversary Update
- Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (WDATP) detects, investigates, and responds to advanced malicious attacks on networks by providing a more comprehensive threat intelligence and attack detection.
- Windows Information Protection enables businesses to separate personal and organizational data and helps protect corporate data where ever it goes.
Cortana helps you be more productive with the Windows 10 Anniversary Update.
- Cortana is now above your lock screen so you can do common tasks such as ask questions, play music from your PC or set a reminder before signing in. Perfect for when you need something quickly.
• Cortana helps save and recall information, like the name of that wine you photographed at dinner or your frequent flier miles. You can now add photos or set reminders directly from Windows Apps like Microsoft Edge. Cortana can also search within docs, not just in titles, to find what you’re looking for.
- Cortana can move easily between devices (Windows 10 devices, iPhone, Android and Cyanogen (Not yet available on iPhone and Android in Australia, coming soon) so you can get and respond to notifications– like when your phone battery is low or when you’ve received a WhatsApp or text message—right from your PC.
- Cortana works great on apps, helping you better use more than a thousand apps and services.
In the Anniversary Update, Microsoft Edge helps you do more with increased power efficiency, extension and accessibility.
- Extensions have come to Microsoft Edge, letting users easily add new functionality to what their browser can do. Find your favorite Microsoft Edge extensions, such as AdBlock, Adblock Plus, Pin it Button, Amazon Assistant, LastPass and more, in the Windows Store.
- With your favorites bar enabled, you can right-click on the favorites bar to have it show the favicons only, for a more efficient use of space. Another right-click lets you add new folders for organization.
- Web Notifications in Microsoft Edge are fully integrated with the notification platform and Action Center in Windows 10, providing a consistent experience with other apps across the system and easy controls over permissions and Quiet Hours.
- You can now choose to have your browsing data cleared every time you close your Microsoft Edge browser. This automatic action includes the ability to select which browsing elements are cleared.
- Microsoft Edge is the only browser to natively support biometrics with supporting sites, coming soon.
- Microsoft Edge already offers 17-70% more battery life than the competitor, and the Anniversary Update brings dozens of improvements to power efficiency, informed from analyzing customer telemetry and experiments in our controlled labs. These improvements are built into Microsoft Edge, so you don’t need to change settings or turn on a power saving mode – every Microsoft Edge user will receive these without a compromised experience.
- It’s easier than ever to keep your most-used sites and web apps available at the top left of your browser window. Right-clicking in the tab lets you pin the tab which shows just the site favicon.
- With an easy right-click of your back button, you can see the full history of that tab – great for remembering where you were.
- Microsoft Edge’s Reading List is built into the browser, allowing users to save items for offline viewing. Reading List is great for temporary content you’d like to get back to, even when you don’t have an Internet connection.
- You can now copy any link into your clipboard, and right-click on the address bar in Microsoft Edge and choose “Paste and go” from the context menu. Microsoft Edge pastes the URL into the address bar, and navigates to the site. You can also copy words to your clipboard, and choose “Paste and search.”
- A new accessibility architecture for Microsoft Edge supports modern web standards, including HTML5, CSS3, and ARIA. With this update, page structure and content are now exposed more clearly with assistive technology. Visual presentation of web pages in high contrast mode is greatly improved to provide additional visual context, while preserving text contrast. Also, form entry when using keyboard navigation and screen readers improve in this update making the browsing experience for people of all abilities better.
The Anniversary Update also brings enhanced experiences for gamers on PC with a new Store design and a unified experience across Windows and Xbox.
- We’re bringing together the best of the Windows Store and Xbox Store to offer a single cohesive experience across devices. The new Store experience will feature an updated interface enabling shoppers to easily find their favorite content. Plus, shoppers can now purchase game and app bundles, subscriptions including Xbox Live Gold, and pre-order their favorite PC games.
- The Anniversary Update sets the stage for Xbox Play Anywhere games. With Xbox Play Anywhere, shoppers can buy select games once and play them on their Windows 10 PC and Xbox One with shared progress, shared game saves and shared achievements. The first Xbox Play Anywhere games become available this fall.
- The revamped product description page makes the Windows Store even more user friendly and useful (especially for PC gamers). The page has improved ratings and reviews, shows system requirements, features trailers, game clips and more. And for large games, shoppers can choose the drive they want to install the game to.
- Every new title published from Microsoft Studios that we showed on stage at E3 this year will support Xbox Play Anywhere and will be easily accessible in the Windows Store both on Windows 10 Pcs and Xbox One, with pre-orders for many of these games available now.
- Games that support Xbox Play Anywhere will be offered within the new unified Windows Store. You’ll be able to find the content you want faster and purchase game and app bundles, subscriptions including Xbox Live Gold, and pre-orders and pre-downloads for many games.
- With the update, we will begin to introduce your top PC games with Game Hubs to Xbox Live so you can see the PC games your friends are playing from your Xbox One or from within the Xbox app on your Windows 10 device.
- On Xbox One, gamers will be able to use Cortana commands. Top fan requested features, including Language Region Independence so gamers can choose any supported language on Xbox One, regardless of their location, and background music will come with the update on Xbox One.
Tablet Mode– formerly known as Continuum desktop – is what kicks in when you want to use your 2in1 device or touchscreen laptop as a tablet; new improvements include:
- You can now choose to auto-hide the taskbar in tablet mode – this allows apps to take full advantage of the screen.
- In Tablet Mode, the All Apps list is now displayed in a full-screen view — instead of in a long vertical rail down the side.
There are improvements to the Start menu for better efficiency and discoverability.
- This was a top request from users and developers: make Live Tiles chase-able so you go right to the content you see on the tile. For example, if your news app shows a particular story, Windows passes this info to the app so the app can display that story front and center when you click the app’s Live Tile.
- With the expansion of the Recently Added apps list, you can see more of the apps that you recently downloaded.
- The All Apps list is now elevated to the top level of Start menu for quicker one-click access to your full list of apps.
- The icon for Action Center is now placed on the far right of the taskbar. There’s also a badge over the icon that displays the number of outstanding notifications.
- There are now 14 Quick Action tiles (like VPN, Note, Tablet mode and Quiet hours) in the Action Center which can be arranged in any order you want. Easily add, remove and reposition them to reflect your priorities.
Change your screen to Dark Mode and experience the new keyboard emoji
- When you make the switch to dark mode, UWP apps like Mail, Calendar and Store change into dark mode which even saves battery power with certain screen technologies.
- A new emoji keyboard features a new font and categories of expressive and playful emoji with more visual fidelity and skin tone options, available for 25 languages. There are also Windows-exclusive figures, including ‘Ninja-cat’.