On Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016, Microsoft released what everyone was calling the “Windows 10 Anniversary Update”, and to help you prepare for what you will automatically be getting (if you are a current Windows 10 user), I’ve pulled together the most important changes affecting the “typical home user”.
[UPDATE – September 29th, 2016 – Since August 2nd, Microsoft has been VERY SLOW in automatically pushing out the update to everyone, probably because BUGS were discovered early-on. However, as of a few days ago, I’m starting to get reports from my students that the update is automatically appearing. So don’t be surprised if you soon wake up one morning, turn on your computer, and see it!]
The Windows 10 Update History
Since its release in July of 2015, Windows 10 has already gone quite a few updates, with the biggest one (code named “Threshold 2”) coming this past November of 2015.
And if you want to see if you have the latest version…
- Go to the Start Menu, and click SETTINGS, then click the Systems button, and from the menu choose About.
- In the information list that appears, look for VERSION and OS BUILD NUMBER.
- Compare these numbers to what you see at the top of the version list on the Microsoft Windows 10 Update History Page (I mention above).
- For example, as I write this the latest VERSION is 1511 and BUILD is 10586.494.
What You’ll See in the Anniversary Update
As I’ve mentioned, on Tuesday, August 2nd Microsoft released a somewhat-significant update to Windows 10, that all current Windows 10 users will automatically get at some point.
Here is a synopsis of the most important changes…
An updated Start Menu
When you click the Start Menu button, the Start Menu now automatically displays the All Apps menu, with the “Most Used” icons at the top, followed by the long alphabetical list of all the apps on your computer. Icons to get to Account Settings, File Explorer, Settings, and Power are still there at the far left side in the form of a collapsible menu.
A more omnipresent Cortana
Cortana has been expanded to now be more aware of what you are doing (only if you have the Cortana feature turned on), including the ability to connect to more apps you use and get information from your emails. Cortana can now also be accessed from the Windows lock screen, so that you can say “Hey Cortana” and wake her up without having to log onto your computer. You can also now use Cortana to remember facts (such as someone’s favorite color or movie) and then recall those facts by just asking.
Edge Browser Extensions
Early on, the Edge browser was a bit slow and sparse in terms of going beyond just basic browsing, and very few users were abandoning their Chrome or Firefox browsers to use Edge. But with every Windows update, Edge has been getting better, and with the Anniversary Update Edge will now have extensions you can get from the Windows App Store, and Edge will be even more closely integrated with Cortana.
This will only work for the Windows Store now, but in the future will let you use your face (with a web cam) or fingerprint (using a fingerprint scanner on some tablets and phones) to log into your computer or to other online sites. Is this more secure? Only in that it verifies you are really you using your computer hardware.
A Dark Theme
The update now includes a new Windows theme (colors, icons, etc.) that tones down the now “brighter” theme, displaying a darker, and for some, easier to see desktop.
For those with a Surface Pro 9 (which includes a pen), the Windows Ink Workspace that comes with the Anniversary Update provides a collection of ink specific apps that allow you to use the pen to take notes, draw, etc.
Here’s a quick list of some other small changes the update will include…
- Click the date on the right of the taskbar to see both a calendar AND events from the calendar (if you use it).
- On the Action Center panel (which appears when you click the Notification button) notifications are now better organized.
- Microsoft App Store is redesigned with large top boxes to take you to featured apps. But the store still doesn’t have near as many apps as the Apple or Google app stores.
- The Battery Saver feature in Settings has been improved to give you more options in saving your battery life, if you have a laptop or mobile device.
- Windows Update now lets you set “active hours” where you control which hours of the day Windows can reboot to install changes.
- More options from the old Control Panel now appear in the new Settings App.
- Improved WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity.
With so many computers getting the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, and because of some of the early bugs, Microsoft has been slow in rolling it out to everyone., which means that if you are a current Windows 10 user, you may not get the update yet for some time.
But the good news is, you WILL get it (automatically), and although there are no earth-shaking changes, what you will get is a more stable, user friendly version of Windows.
As always, I would love to hear your comments about your experiences with Windows 10. You can leave them below!!!