Windows 10 Anniversary Update: what's in Microsoft's package of Windows 10 improvements?

Updated: new Windows 10 features are here

The Windows 10 Anniversary update is rolling out to all Windows 10 PCs as we speak.

But what is it? Well, the Windows 10 Anniversary Update is a batch of updates rolled into one, released to mark a year of Windows 10.

In old Windows parlance such an update was referred to as a Service Pack – if you're of a certain age you may remember Windows XP Service Pack 2 that basically gave the operating system a new raft of features; a new lease of life if you like.

While the Anniversary Update (previously codenamed Redstone) isn't quite that much of a landmark, it does provide numerous fixes for Windows 10 features that haven't worked so well, as well as introducing some new bits and pieces.

There are security updates for all Windows 10 versions, too.

The Windows 10 Anniversary Update is also free. Here's some selected features:

Windows Hello gets useful

According to Microsoft, 80% of people use the same password across multiple web sites, managing around 20-30 different accounts requiring passwords. Windows Hello - the operating system's built-in facial, iris and fingerprint recignition software - can now be used to log into appscan now be used with apps as well as Microsoft Edge, the only browser to natively support biometrics at the moment.

Windows Ink gets you writing

There's also much improved support for stylus operations (centred around a new Windows Ink feature) including easier note-taking plus the ability to create Cortana reminders directly from notes. Windows will automatically work out you've written a date or drawn a route on a map, for example. Sentences can be struck out simply by drawing a line through the text. Microsoft says it wants using a pen with Windows 10 to be as intuitive as using paper. Windows Ink is integrated into apps like Maps, Microsoft Edge, and Office.

Cortana knows you better and can make your PC work with Android or Windows Phone

Microsoft has launched a new Cortana Collection in the Windows Store to make it easy for you to find great apps with Cortana. And in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, Cortana can proactively make suggestions for you throughout your day, like offering to buy you lunch or arrange a taxi. Some of this stuff is really cool - Microsoft showed a scenario using JustEat, where Cortana could order you dinner if you're working late.

Cortana is also available above the lock screen, giving you quicker access without unlocking your PC. It will also come to Xbox One.

And bad news for Pushbullet - via Cortana Windows 10 will be abe to complete certain notification-based tasks on your Windows or Android phone, such as receiving and sending text messages, on your PC (the early indication is that this is pretty basic, however).

More on Universal apps

A key idea of the update is the next step in Microsoft's journey to integrate all Windows 10 devices - including Xbox and Windows Phone - on the Universal Windows Platform (UWP). Xbox One also now has a developer mode, meaning Windows Universal apps can easily be tested on the console, too. Microsoft has also unveiled the Desktop App Converter, formerly known as Project Centennial. This will enable developers to convert legacy desktop (Win32) apps into UWP apps

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