The Windows 10 Anniversary Update brings with it plenty of new features, but what are we getting?
Microsoft has now started rolling out its next free massive update for Windows 10, a year on since the operating system launched. The Windows 10 Anniversary Update adds a bunch of new features to our PCs, and some well-needed improvements to the over 350 million Windows 10 users.
The Start Screen has seen quite the overhaul in recent years, with this month’s free update being no exception. You’ve now got a list of recently added and most used apps, along with a bit of a tile management sorting out too. The, up until now lacklustre, Action Center has seen a massive improvement overall, with its own pride of place making it much more noticeable. As a result of this, general notifications are far slicker than before, with big notifications such as calendar events at the forefront of the whole experience.
I’d say the new Windows Hello improvements are the big selling point here, with beefed up security when signing into your device along with third-party applications too. You can now unlock your device through supported wearables while also being able to use Windows Hello security sign-in features in supported apps too. Expect to see major banks incorporating this feature through their online banking services in the near future.
Cortana is a little more fleshed out now and has finally become much more of a digital personal assistant. You can now set reminders and such without ever having to unlock your device, and she’s much more helpful when it comes to asking questions too. The Microsoft Edge browser has seen a couple of tweaks, largely in its power efficiency for better battery performance and that it now supports Chrome-like browser extensions. Microsoft is a little late to the party here, and while the number of extensions is very small at the moment, we can expect to see that number grow exponentially in the coming months.
Finally, you’ve got the new Windows ink feature, available for all touchscreen supported devices. This should make it easier for you to create notes and reminders, with a pretty nifty handwriting recognition software too. Apps supporting this software, such as calendar, allows for plenty of integration here with Cortana playing a huge part.
If you’re currently running an older version of Windows, be it Windows 8 or 7, you’re a bit out of luck if you now decide to make the move to 10. As of July 30th, you can now no longer upgrade to Windows 10 for free, as Microsoft have locked off the Windows 10 upgrade option. If you’re that set on upgrading to the latest operating system, however, you can of course still part with your cash and buy it, for a reasonably large fee. For £84 you can get Windows 10 Home, but if you’re a business user, you’ll have to shell out £150 for Windows 10 Pro. Obviously, this is a price worth considering, but you might be best just holding off until your next hardware upgrade to get Windows 10 packaged with it.
01/06/2016 – Soon you can unlock Windows with wearables
Microsoft took to Computex in Taiwan to reveal that soon you’ll be able to use more than just your fingerprint or face to unlock your Windows 10 device. The Windows Hello Companion Device Framework will be opened up to other companies to take advantage of, meaning devices such as wearables will be able to unlock Windows 10 devices for another quick and convenient secure sign in method. Microsoft demonstrated the new feature using a band from Nymi, showcasing how a wearable could be used in the workplace. Other devices, such as smart cards, phones and other wearables will also be alternative options for quick sign in.
So far, Windows Hello hasn’t been as prevalent as many would have liked. With only a handful of laptops initially supporting it at Windows 10’s launch. The number is steadily increasing and many devices launched at Computex are including the functionality. At least Windows Hello’s facial recognition has been shown as secure, with even twins not being able to fool it.
16/05/16 – More adverts coming to the Start menu
Microsoft has announced they are planning to double the amount of adverts shown on the Windows 10 Start menu as part of the upcoming Windows 10 Anniversary Update this summer.
The adverts, which Microsoft calls ‘Promoted apps’, will be much more frequent once the Anniversary Update, codenamed Redstone, finally rolls out this July. Announced at the Windows Hardware Engineering Community (WinHEC) series of conferences last week, ten promoted apps will be allocated on the Start menu of all Windows 10 PC’s, compared to the current five.
Promoted apps are used to encourage PC users to download certain Windows Store apps on new PCs based on their recommendations, yet Microsoft has always made sure to mention that promoted apps are never paid for. If you click on a promoted apps tile, it will take you directly to the Windows Store page for that app.
While some of the promoted apps are already installed, Microsoft says you do have the option to fully uninstall them, with promoted items able to be removed completely from the Start menu. The number of installed apps appearing on the Start menu by default is also expected to fall to just 12 from the current 17.
While Microsoft hasn’t officially announced the reasoning behind the move, it could be that the company are trying to encourage more developers to make the shift to the Windows Store. It’s likely that people won’t be best pleased with Microsoft tampering with the Start Menu yet again.
Back in March, Microsoft announced the free Anniversary Update pencilled in for July 2016, which is expected to introduce a bunch of different features and improvements including; changes to the action center, Start menu, Start screen as well as Microsoft’s version of Apple’s Handoff integration between desktops and smartphones.
06/05/16 – Windows 10 will soon cost £100 to upgrade
Our hopes that Microsoft might extend the free upgrade period to Windows 10 have been dashed by the company revealing the upgrade prices along with a reminder that time is running out. In a recent blog post, Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Windows and Devices group wrote that “time is running out”.
Anyone that isn’t running the new operating system at the moment, has until July 29th to claim the free Windows 10 upgrade. After that date the OS has to be paid for, with an upgrade to Windows 10 Home costing £100 and Windows 10 Pro costing £130. This is likely to mean that Microsoft will up its nagging of Windows 7 and Windows 8 users, as it tries to get them to upgrade before the deadline. Of course, if you’ve got this far without installing Windows 10, it’s probably because you don’t want the operating system. Fortunately, the instructions below (Say never to Windows 10) will show you how to block the Windows 10 nagging screens and keep you on your current OS.
Microsoft has also addressed one concern as to whether there would be paid-for updates to the operating system. In a YouTube video (embedded below for you), Bryan Roper explains that upgrading to Windows 10 now will get you all future updates for free, as well. This includes the anniversary update (Redstone), which is coming soon and is partly demoed in the video below.
30/03/16 – Say never to Windows 10
There are plenty of reasons for people not to want the latest version of Windows, from driver compatibility to games performance. We’ve already written about how you can say no to upgrading to Windows 10 using GWX Control Panel for those not wanting to upgrade. There’s now another tool, Gibson’s Never10, available that arguably makes the process even simpler. As described on its website: “The elegance of this “Never 10” utility, is that it does not install ANY software of its own. It simply and quickly performs the required system editing for its user.” Should you ever change your mind about upgrading, Never10 can revert the changes as well.
21/03/16 – Expanded OneDrive back ups
Leaked screenshots from a Windows 10 build show that Microsoft are potentially looking at expanding the backup options available through its OneDrive cloud storage service. In a screenshot on Thurrott showing Windows 10 build 14278, a toggle for backing up settings is available. This enables the backup of settings such as the Start screen layout, accounts and passwords, meaning restoring or setting up multiple devices could be made significantly simpler. This option isn’t in the current Insider version but ISO images of this build are available. It will certainly be a welcome option in any case, meaning you can get an instantly familiar new system without having to go through the process of customising, similar to how Chrome OS performs.
04/03/16 – ‘Redstone’ update potentially delayed
According to reports from WinBeta, Microsoft is delaying the next major update to Windows 10, known as ‘Redstone’. The major revisions will be delivered in two different waves, known as ‘RS1’ and ‘RS2’. The first of the updates should arrive in June, provided this doesn’t get pushed back. It’s the second set of updates that has seen the delays, with RS2 now expected to be released in 2017. RS1 is heavily expected to help unify Windows 10 devices, including PCs, phones and the Xbox One console.
As such, gaming will be a big focus and the Windows Store will be an all-encompassing media hub across devices with more of a consistent experience. WinBeta is also reporting that Continuum will feature more prominently, with the ability to make calls and send SMS messages from a desktop likely to feature in RS1. By the sounds of things, the Redstone releases are going to be far more than simple Service Pack updates as have been the case with previous versions of Windows.
10/02/16 – Microsoft finally providing patch notes with each update
Microsoft has come clean over its attitude to Windows 10 updates, which have attracted criticism since the operating system launched last year. From today it will publish patch notes for every update. Windows 10 is constantly undergoing updates but Microsoft only ever provides detailed information about what’s in the update when new features are added. Updates such as bug fixes were never properly acknowledged, leaving users suspicious of the updates’ contents. This was a particularly big issue after media reports on Windows 10 focused unfairly on the operating system’s ‘spying’ elements.
As a result of feedback, Microsoft has launched a new patch notes site that’ll keep track of every update, with a bulleted list of what each update contains. It doesn’t make for exciting reading, but anyone with a remote interest in what goes on in the background of the operating system they use every day will appreciate it. We certainly do. A Microsoft spokesperson told The Verge: “After listening to feedback regarding the level of disclosure for Windows 10 updates, we decided to implement a new system for communicating updates to the operating system. Today we are rolling out the Windows 10 update history site, a hub for the release notes that will accompany each update and serve as a historical record of prior release notes.”
Installing Windows 10
Haven’t got Windows 10 yet? No problem, we’ll show you how to get the new operating system onto your PC, laptop or tablet. First we’ll look at whether you’re eligible for a free upgrade to the new Windows, and look into the slightly murky world of Windows 10 licensing, where we see what you’re really getting for ‘free’ from Microsoft. Then we’ll provide step-by-step advice on how to install it. We’ll also show you how to make a Windows 10 install disc, in case you’ve claimed a free upgrade and want to perform a clean install at a later date.
Getting everything setup
Windows 10 has plenty of features built-in, especially if you use Microsoft services such as Outlook email, but it’s also capable of handling other popular providers’ services too. Here we’ll show you how to setup your email, how to get your system and files backed up, and how to add additional users so you can share using your PC with friends and family, including children.
Where’s the … ?
So you’ve got Windows 10 installed and most of the services are up-and-running. It’s looking shiny, smart and new, but where’s that feature you’ve always relied on? Not to worry, we show you how to replace a number of key missing features that you enjoyed in previous versions of Windows.
Master the desktop
Windows is pretty easy to use, but you can do so much more with it, and so much more quickly, if you learn a few basic keyboard shortcuts. Here we’ll show you how to switch between tasks at an instant, create virtual desktops so you can divide up work and play and keep your windows organised and we show you Windows 10’s powerful new tools for windows management, letting you work on multiple apps with ease.
Windows 10 mobile
Windows 10 isn’t just available on PCs, laptops and tablets (all though it’s pretty impressive it now works on all these rather well), you’ll soon be able to enjoy it on Windows Phone handsets too. We’ve got the latest pre-release build, so you can see what all the fuss is about.
Exciting new features
There’s lots more to Windows 10 as well. Microsoft’s ‘personal digital assistant’ Cortana is built into the operating system and is designed to help you with everyday stuff like setting calendar appointments and reminders. We also look at how to stream Xbox One games to your Windows 10 PC.
And there’s more
If that’s not enough Windows 10 for you then here’s some articles from our colleagues at Alphr and ITPro that should also interest you. With these you can make Windows 10 look how you want with display scaling, custom wallpapers and a tweaked Taskbar, as well as find out how what Windows 10 can do that Windows 8.1 couldn’t and finally a rundown of the best apps for your new operating system.