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Windows 10 Anniversary Update released – plus all the latest Windows 10 news and guides

Windows 10 Anniversary Update

The Windows 10 Anniversary Update brings with it plenty of new features, but what are we getting?


29/01/16  – Cortana will keep your promises so you don’t have to 

Microsoft has started rolling out a series of new improvements to Windows 10, concentrating this week on digital assistant Cortana, who’s about to get a whole lot more useful (and keeping you honest), now really beginning to rival Google Now and Apple’s Siri.

Jump to our Windows 10 guides

The video above describes some handy additions that will make Cortana fans giddy. For a start, Cortana’s understanding of your email inbox is getting even better. If you send an email saying you’re going to do something, such as ‘I’ll send you the secret documents later’, Cortana will suggest you make a reminder for that so you make good on your promise and don’t leave your colleagues in the lurch. 

Even better – although how this works in practice remains to be seen – is an understanding of your meeting habits. Here’s the Microsoft explanation: “if you are a morning person like me, and you get a meeting request come through for 7pm, Cortana will alert you that you have a meeting outside of your regular times so that you can take action quickly to move it to a better time. The same for last minute meetings – say it’s 8pm and your boss has sent you an urgent meeting request for 7am the next day – Cortana will alert you that there’s a meeting that may need your attention, so you can adjust your alarm and morning routine accordingly and stay on top of your day.”

It’s not particularly clear how userful the first addition will be; if you’ve been sent an invite for a meeting at a time you don’t want, you’ll probably be aware of that and, in all likelihood, changing the meeting time is probably above your pay grade anyway. The second feature that lets you change your alarm time based on meeting times is excellent: no more early morning embarrassment. 

19/11/15 – First big updates arrive for Windows 10

Microsoft has begun rolling out its first major update to Windows 10. The free update is available now for PCs and tablets, and it adds several improvements across the board, including better performance, new features in your favourite apps, and Windows 10 on Xbox One.

One of the big new upgrades is a faster boot time. For those upgrading from a Windows 7 PC, for example, Microsoft is promising start-up times that are up to 30% faster, allowing you to get to your apps faster than ever before. Multitasking has been improved, too, as you can now slide the edge of snapped desktop apps to wherever you want, allowing you to easily resize both apps in just one motion. This is already available on tablets, but this is very good news for PC owners.

Likewise, Cortana now supports digital pens and styli, letting you scribble down notes and reminders directly on your device’s touchscreen instead of typing them out. Cortana will recognise your writing, whether it’s a phone number, email address or a physical address and incorporate the information into its Notebook. Cortana can also keep track of your event and film bookings now, sending you useful reminders about where you need to go, how long it will take to get there, and US Windows 10 users will even get the option to book and track an Uber taxi straight from the event reminder.

Windows 10 Cortana (November 2015 update)

Microsoft’s Edge browser has also received several updates, including the ability to sync your Favourites and Reading list items across your devices. Tab preview is another new feature. This allows you to hover over your open tabs and get a preview of what’s on each website without leaving the page you’re on. In the US, Cortana will also notify you of the best coupon offers from retailers such as Staples, Macy’s and Best Buy when shopping through Edge.

Mail and Calendar can now be personalised with light and dark themes as well as the accent colour you use to personalise Windows or your own background photo. The update adds support for new types of calendars, too, including religious calendars, lunar and Zodiac calendars. The Photos app has been redesigned as well, as it can now create ready-to-share albums. You can also create manual photo albums and sync any album across every device. Maps will present you a greater number of alternate routes and those with a Windows phone will be able to save the location of their parking spot, too.

Windows 10 Mail (November 2015 update)

Windows 10 is also now available on Xbox One. The new interface mimics the Xbox app on PC, creating a more seamless gaming experience across your devices. It should also be able to start multiplayer games faster. It’s still missing Cortana, but Microsoft has said will be coming in 2016.

Microsoft is changing the way it handles upgrades to Windows 10. Previously, users had to actively opt for the update, but now Windows 7 and Windows 8 users will see it listed as an ‘optional update’ in Windows Update. This will then change to a ‘recommended update’ in early 2016. Depending on your Windows Update settings, it may still automatically download to your system, but you’ll be clearly prompted to choose whether or not to continue.

More importantly, Microsoft has simplified the activation process. For instance, if you install the latest version of Windows 10 and it doesn’t automatically activate, you can enter your original Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 licence key which you used on that particular device to activate Windows 10. This also applies if you do a clean install of Windows 10 by booting off a USB stick.  Of course, if you’re not happy with Windows 10 once you’ve upgraded, you still have 31 days to roll back to your previous version of Windows.

21/10 New Windows 10 build introduces desktop SMS messages

Microsoft is rolling out some handy features for Windows 10, including the ability to send text messages from the Windows 10 desktop. Build 10572 of Windows 10 Mobile really starts to unify the mobile operating system and full fat Desktop Windows 10. Cortana will notify you about missed calls and messages with notification pop-ups and, even better, you can send replies by typing or saying “text [name]” in Cortana.

Type the message into the box and click send or say “send it” and the message will be sent to your phone, which will then sent it as an SMS. Currently this does not extend to other messaging apps, such as WhatsApp, although Skype is now more deeply integrated into the Windows 10 and Mobile experience with messaging, mobile voice calls and video calls all working. 

Cortana is now integrated with Uber, and you can ask it to book you a ride from your current location without having to use the app. Again, this can be done from the Windows 10 Desktop. 

See a full list of the new features on the Windows 10 Experience blog. 

16/10 Microsoft will give you up to £100 for your old laptop 

Microsoft has launched an ambitious trade-in scheme, offering a rebate of up to £100 on purchases of any new Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 laptop with the trade-in of another laptop.

Sounds too good to be true, right? Microsoft has laid down its terms clearly on its Easy Trade Up website. Buy a laptop from a UK retailer (excluding the likes of eBay and Amazon Marketplace), trade in a functioning laptop (including Chromebooks) or desktop and receive a discount. You have to spend at least £249 to get a £30 trade-in, more than £349 for £50 and £499 for a £100 discount.

Qualifying laptops can’t be more than six years old and must not be completely broken; normal wear and tear such as scratches, scuffs and missing keys is accepted, however.


Microsoft is making a an unsurprisingly big push for Windows 10, the operating system it hopes will finally unify desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones under one consistent banner. Getting owners of old laptops into the ecosystem with a decent discount is a good start and may just push those with cheap, slow and old laptops to upgrade.

It’s a decent little offer, although don’t go trading in your laptop just yet; if you have a laptop that isn’t particularly old or worn out, it may be worth more at second-hand trade-in stores or on eBay, so it’s worth checking its value there first.

08/10: Windows 10 coming to smartphones in December

Windows 10 won’t be coming to pre-existing Windows phones until December, Microsoft has revealed.

According to a post on Facebook reported by The Inquirer, Microsoft has stated that the “broad availability of Windows 10 on other devices, including mobile phones, will begin rolling out in December.”

The quickest way to get Windows 10 on a smartphone, then, is to buy one of Microsoft’s new Lumia 950 or 950XL smartphones, both of which are set to launch in November after Microsoft’s ground-shaking Windows 10 launch event on Wednesday (see more below). These will also be the first smartphones to get Windows 10 Continuum. Continuum lets your phone divide up its processing power and run a Windows 10 desktop on an external monitor as well as continue to run on the phone. This means you can hook up your phone to a dock, with a keyboard, mouse and screen plugged in, and use your phone as if it were a proper PC. This feature isn’t backwards compatible, though, as it requires new processing hardware in order to work effectively. 

Windows phone 10 Continuum demo screenshot

^Windows 10 Continuum looks just like the Windows 10 desktop

Windows 10 for mobiles includes an updated UI, universal apps that work on both desktop Windows 10 and a redesigned action centre with more easily accessible settings and functions. 

Which devices are getting Windows 10 Phone?

All phones running Windows Phone 8.1 with the Denim update will get Windows 10 at some point, according to Microsoft. However, the official list of phones getting the update first is as follows: Lumia 430, 435, 532, 535, 540, 640, 640 XL, 735, 830 and 930.

06/10: Microsoft launches new Windows 10 devices including Surface Book laptop and Band activity tracker

Microsoft has launched a huge roster of new devices including a brand-new laptop, the new Surface Pro 4, the Microsoft Band and two new smartphones: the Lumia 950 and 950 XL. 

The event, designed to showcase the best hardware available for Windows 10, surprised many. While the Surface Pro 4 announcement was widely expected, most of the tech world was surprised to see the firm unveil a laptop. They were even more amazed the Surface Book “laptop” turned out to be a 2-in-1 laptop/tablet hybrid with a detachable screen. 

Elsewhere, the new smartphones look to be Microsoft’s best yet, with high-end components, quality cameras and Windows 10 Continuum baked in. 

Microsoft Band 2 The new Microsoft Band is also an interesting prospect; our main gripe with the original model was its ugly and uncomfortable design, which looks to have been significantly improved for the 2015 model.

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