Microsoft releases the special Anniversary update on the first anniversary of the Windows 10 operating system. And it comes with a comprehensive overhaul of the platform.
That said, the Anniversary Update changes, while significant, are not massive alterations to the operating system. Many of these are tweaks that users will get the hang of in no time, and several are things that you may already be using on mobile devices.
What follows below is a short guide on the significant changes and feature improvements that arrive as part of the Anniversary Update. It is a quick rundown of all that is new and worth noting.
Here we go, then:
Windows 10 Anniversary Update Changes
The Smarter Cortana
Windows 10 voice assistant Cortana is now available on the lock screen, which may or may not be a good thing. But the digital assistant is there, and it also provides you the ability to see your phone’s (not necessary a Windows phone) notifications like incoming text alerts, for example, on your PC desktop.
Cortana can also perform a lot more tasks for you. If you have booked a movie ticket or a flight ticket and received a confirmation mail, it would automatically add them to your calendar for a reminder. If two events are overlapping, it will prompt you to shift one of the events. Cortana also has a Photo Reminder feature. If you have saved a picture of an item to buy it in the future, Cortana will remind you to buy it the next time you visit the store.
You can also ask Cortana to play your favorite music from YouTube, Spotify, and others.
Further, Cortana can set a reminder and schedule a meeting too. Overall, Microsoft has made the Cortana more proactive than ever.
Windows 10 Dark Theme
Easily the most striking visual change in the Anniversary Update is the addition of a dark theme. Windows previously kept it hidden and it was available only via a registry trick. The Anniversary update now gives you a choice to select between light and dark modes in Settings -> Personalization -> Colors. Unfortunately, it is not yet system-wide and only works in apps and settings, but not desktop programs and tools, for example, File Explore would remain as it is.
Windows Hello Extended Options
Windows Hello is Microsoft’s login system that works without passwords, with biometrics like fingerprint and face recognition. Microsoft has now extended it further in the Anniversary Update. You can now unlock apps and webpages in Edge by scanning your fingerprint or iris via Windows Hello.
Further Windows Hello will let you unlock Your PC With “Companion Devices.” By Companion Devices, we mean gadgets like your smartphone, smartwatches, USB security keys, and others.
Improvement in Windows Ink
Microsoft certainly has made a big deal of the Windows Ink functionality in the Anniversary Update. It is the company’s big bet to improve the use of pen devices and styluses in the OS. And not just dedicated hardware, it is also possible to use the mouse or finger to write on-screen on touch-enabled PCS.
A new option, “Ink Workspace,” was also introduced in Windows 10. In this, if your pen has a button, clicking it would open a list of apps that supports Windows Ink. You can quickly choose from any of them.
Windows Defender Advancements
Anniversary Update includes a new version of Windows Defender. The built-in protection for Windows 10 is more robust than ever. One useful addition is a scan that roots out malware by restarting your PC in offline mode.
The solution also plays nicely with third-party security software. Currently, it automatically disables itself when it detects a third-party antimalware. In this latest update, a new feature, “Limited Periodic Scanning,” is added. It turns the defender ON and scan your system occasionally even if any other security program is there. In this way, Windows Defender provides you with an additional layer of security. Navigate to Settings -> Update & Security -> Windows Defender and turn on the “Limited Periodic Scanning” feature to enable this.
Linux Command Line
Microsoft made the surprise announcement at BUILD 2016 earlier this year, confirming that it was adding the Linux command line to Windows 10 via the Anniversary Update. It is a full Ubuntu command line running natively right in Windows, built in partnership with Canonical. Linux Command Line comes with apt-get to download command-line binaries and all the built-in tools you would expect from a Linux shell, like ls, to browse your filesystem. This feature aims software developers rather than the broad user base, but they are sure to appreciate Bash.
Improved Start Menu
The Anniversary Update makes some subtle changes to the Start Menu. Nothing radical, but it is expanded from a two-pane version to a three-pane one. A unique addition is a narrow strip that houses icons for Accounts, Settings, and Power. The ‘All apps’ option is also unavailable.
Now your app list has three categories, Recently Added, Most Used, and then all apps alphabetically. File Explorer, Settings, and Shut Down buttons are available on the Start Menu always on the left panel.
You also have got an option of a full-screen start menu like in Windows 8. Tablet users have had it hard in Windows 10, compared to the features they had within Windows 8. But the optional full-screen Start in this latest OS has also been redesigned, with rearranged tiles that better take advantage of the increased space. The new strip of icons also makes an appearance here.
New Taskbar Options
The taskbar looks and works just like before, mostly, but Microsoft has changed the way how this feature is customized. A quick right-click on the taskbar now brings up a Settings option that provides all sorts of options, including whether it appears on all screens in a multi-monitor setup.
The Windows 10 Calendar app frustratingly lacked in several areas. Luckily, Microsoft now provides for the possibility of sharing the details between it and the calendar on the taskbar. Meaning, there is no longer a need to open up the Calendar app in AU to check the day’s events.
You can also find the calendar in the taskbar clock. You can see your today’s events or add new events to your schedule from the taskbar itself.
This update also has an updated sound panel. If you have more than one output device connected, by clicking on the audio icon, you can choose between either of them.
Further, the new Settings app also involves taskbar settings. You can access them at Settings -> Personalization -> Taskbar.
More Control Over Updates
Well, not exactly complete control, and Microsoft is still sticking with its policy of compulsory updates. Still, a new feature dubbed ‘Active hours’ lets you specifies a specific timeframe each day that Windows Update will not deploy patches and updates. Not an ideal solution, but an improvement, nonetheless.
Under Settings -> Update & Security -> Windows Update, you can now set your “active hours,” which are the hours when you’re most actively using your computer.
Furthermore, a new option, “Use my sign-in info to automatically finish setting up my device after an update,” is now available under the advanced windows settings. With this, Windows would not ask for your sign-in details after every significant update.
Changes in the App Settings
The Anniversary update brought some valuable changes in the app settings. It is now possible to prevent certain apps from running in the background on laptops and tablets in order to save battery power. This is a small improvement but could be valuable for power users that want as much juice as possible for their device.
Apart from it, now Windows 10 allows some apps to open when you access it’s website. For example, if you visit Twitter.com on Microsoft Edge, you would be able to open the app instead.
Improved Quick Actions
The shortcuts that appear at the bottom of the Action Center panel have also been revamped, and you can now drag and drop them in any order that you want. A wider range of actions would be quite welcome here, for a feature that has been somewhat underused in Windows 10.
New Accessibility Features
A heavily upgraded text-to-speech tool is now part of Windows 10, thanks to the AU, and new voices in Narrator offer a much higher top speed of speech of approximately 800 words per minute. This is more or less double than before. Improved keyboard navigation and spoken suggestions are also in.
Badges are mini-notifications that sit on top of icons to draw your attention to something, like the number of email messages of Facebook notifications received. They are now in Windows 10 too, and better yet, there is an option to disable them if you prefer the clean look as before.
Another big one. Do you remember the toast notifications that pop-up in the bottom right-hand corner of Windows 10? Now, it also serves as the Action Center. They are also more dynamic now, with app developers getting the ability to include more information, images, and clickable links in them.
WiFi Password Sharing Removed
Before Anniversary Update, there was a feature known as WiFi sense. It allowed you to share the WiFi network and passwords with your Facebook, Outlook.com, and Skype contacts. The feature is now removed since people were reluctant to use it to protect their WiFi privacy.
These are the significant changes that Microsoft has provided in Windows 10 Anniversary Update. Introduction of Dark Them, Full-screen Start, WiFi Password sharing removal, Linux Command Line are some welcome changes. While giving more control to Cortana can be dangerous for privacy. So, like every update, this also has its ups and downs.
Windows 10 Anniversary Update FAQs
Windows 10 Anniversary Update is the major update provided by Microsoft for the Windows 10 operating system on the first anniversary of the Windows 10 release date.
First, check your system’s Update Settings for the Anniversary Upgrade. To get the Windows 10 Anniversary update externally, you have to first download the Media Creation Tool from Microsoft’s official website. After that, just follow the steps of the Media Creation Tool to install Windows 10 anniversary update. Using Media Creation Tool, you can also create a portable bootable USB device or DVD for Windows installation.
Peter is an Electrical Engineer whose primary interest is tinkering with his computer. He is passionate about Windows 10 Platform and enjoys writing tips and tutorials about it.