Windows 10 Anniversary Update: What You Need To Know

UPDATED: Release date, features and enhancements for Windows 10 Anniversary Update, the first major upgrade for Microsoft’s operating system

Windows 10 might miss its target of one billion installations by 2018 but by most metrics it has been a success.

The offer of a free upgrade, and some questionable tactics, has boosted adoption levels as Microsoft seeks to offer developers a unified platform across PC, tablet, mobile and IoT devices, and give itself a significant user base to sell services to.

It’s already been a year since Windows 10 entered our lives and helped to banish the memory of Windows 8, and Microsoft has big plans for its latest operating system’s first birthday in the form of a major update.

Microsoft is adding new features with every preview build but here is what we know about the imaginatively titled ‘Windows 10 Anniversary update’.

Windows 10 Anniversary Update

LAST UPDATED: 04/08/2016

It will be available on August 2

Windows 10The update will start rolling out worldwide from that date, possibly in phases to help Microsoft manage server traffic.

It will be free… but Windows 10 upgrade offer is ending

Just like Windows 10 itself, the first major upgrade will be free to download to systems that have already installed the OS. However, Microsoft is ending its offer of a free upgrade for Windows 7 and Windows 8 users on 29 July, so you’ll need to make sure you’ve downloaded that first, otherwise you’ll have to fork out the cash. Not that Microsoft plans on letting you forget – it’s started sending full screen reminders.

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It will be more secure

Windows Hello will bring biometric security for applications and websites in the Microsoft Edge browser, while businesses will benefit from Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (WDATP) and Windows Information Protection which hopes to minimise the impact of accidental leaks

Cortana is getting more features

Cortana will be usable from the lock screen, making it easier to use the feature hands-free. Yell out ‘Hey Cortana’ to give it instructions from the other side of the room if you like. Cortana can now store information such as frequent flyer numbers and Cross-device notifications will help Microsoft push its multi-device strategy. Reminders can also be made more visual with image attachments.

However there’s a down side. Windows 10 has previously included the ability to turn off Cortana. The Anniversary Update disables that.

Windows Ink

Windows ink is a new handwriting feature for touchscreen devices that lets users write notes, draw sketches and add annotations to certain apps such as Maps, Office 365 and Microsoft Edge. Microsoft is pitching the feature at creative industries and education.

Task bar, Start Menu and Action Center

Windows 10 MobileThe Start Menu will make it easier to find apps. ‘All apps’ will be displayed by default and there will be menus for ‘most used’ and ‘recently added’. In tablet mode, ‘All apps’ will be full screen and the taskbar can be hidden. Some icons will get new features. For example, clicking the clock will reveal events and volume will have more options.

Microsoft also plans on making it easier to customise the Action Center with icons, prioritised notifications and Android notifications.

Linux, Docker and Hyper-V

The ability to run Ubuntu software arrived in the Preview version of Windows 10 earlier this year and the Linux Bash shell command line should arrive with the anniversary update too. Docker friendly containers are also on board as is native support for Hyper-V containers.

It will come with an enhanced developer mode

An enhanced developer mode will be included in the update with new options available in Windows settings, helping coders take advantage of the container and Linux options. Instead of looking through various software components, the mode makes it simpler to find functionalities and file paths for Windows 10.

Windows 10 mobile

Microsoft might have blamed smartphones for it missing its much touted ‘one billion’ target but it still plans to show mobiles some love. Continuum, which promises users the same experience across multiple devices, will be updated and Bluetooth support will be improved. Recent preview builds have improved battery life for older devices and fixed an issue with loading PDF files in Microsoft Edge.

Take our Windows 10 quiz here!