Windows 10 Anniversary Update rolls in
By Ajith Ram August 5, 2016
- Revamped Start Menu and addition of Windows Ink
- Cortana still not available in many Asian countries
UNDER normal circumstances, most anniversaries are times to celebrate. But when it comes to Windows 10 and Microsoft, the picture is a bit mixed. The operating system's Anniversary Update released this week is mostly good news for existing Windows 10 customers. But for users of older versions of Windows, the picture is less clear as the free upgrade offer has now come to an end.
The Anniversary Update (Windows 10 version 1607) is the first major update to Windows 10 since its release. While the November Update added some refinements, the Anniversary Update adds entirely new features. Important parts of the core operating system have been improved and new capabilities have been added for developers.
From the consumer perspective, one of the biggest new features is Windows Ink which is a location to find built-in or third party apps that work with your stylus. You can use the new digital sticky notes to jot down ideas and they can be turned into reminders as Cortana deciphers what you write.
This is the first release which incorporates a huge amount of feedback from Microsoft's 'Insider' preview program. The company says it has made more than 5,0000 improvements as a result of Insider feedback.
This includes the new Start menu, Action Center and Taskbar. It is obvious that Microsoft wants to change the perception of how it develops Windows 10 compared to previous versions of the operating system.
The Anniversary Update is, of course, a free release for Windows 10 users. So long as the hardware requirements do not change, Windows users who are using Windows 10, will continue to receive both security fixes and feature improvements indefinitely.
For OEMs like Dell, Lenovo and Acer, there are some changes. They are now required to meet Microsoft's hardware specifications. New Windows systems will have to include at least 2GB RAM and they' will have to include support for TPM 2.0 security.
In the Anniversary Update, the top level of the Start menu displays all the apps. A narrow icon bar running up the left provides access to Settings, Explorer and the Power, Account menus.
You can see this in the video below.
The speaker icon in the notification area now shows a volume slider when you click it along with a primary output selector. The Taskbar has also been modified. On multi-monitor systems, the time and date now shows on every single screen instead of appearing only on the primary screen.
The Action Center icon for notifications has been given its own special icon to the right of the clock. The number of notifications shown per app in the Action Center can now be customised, along with the quick access buttons at the bottom of the Action Center.
The Edge browser at Windows 10's launch was incomplete. Although the engine was fast and supported web standards. the browser was minimalist. The upgraded version supports extensions. The extensions are installed and updated via the Windows Store. The current available extensions include Reddit Enhancement Suite, AdBlock, AdBlock Plus and LastPass.
The Windows Store and the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) have come under fire from gamers. At release last year, Windows 10 did not offer control over features such as v-sync. Games can now disable v-sync if they want. They can also take advantage of Nvidia's G-Sync and AMD's FreeSync variable refresh rate technology.
The Anniversary Update introduces a new option: Project Centennial, now known now as the Desktop App Converter. As the name suggests, it converts desktop apps built using Win32 and turns them into packages that can be both installed and updated using the Windows Store.
The most intriguing new feature of the Anniversary Update is the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). For the moment, it is aimed purely at developers. When activated, Windows runs a few kernel-mode components that offer the same APIs as the Linux kernel offers to Linux programs. This allows Windows to execute binaries that are compiled for Linux - something unthinkable just a couple of years ago.
The Windows 10 Anniversary Update is certainly a bigger one that the usual System Packs that accompanied previous versions. Most of the 5,000 improvements are made up of very small changes. Even when taken together, the Anniversary Update is an update that makes Windows 10 only slightly better. But considering that it is free to all Windows 10 users, it is definitely a small cause for celebration.
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