Windows 10 Anniversary Update hits on August 2: What you need to know
Windows 10 debuted last summer, and one year on, Microsoft is adding several new features, with the Windows 10 Anniversary Update arriving on August 2. That's perilously close to Microsoft's self-imposed deadline for upgrading from older versions of Windows 10, so you will have to get Windows 10 by July 29 to get the latest OS an this new update for free.
The Anniversary Update is a well-rounded package, with both consumer and business features. Security is a big focus, but an emphasis on promoting Windows use on touchscreen devices comes through loud and clear too.
Cortana is taking a leaf out of Amazon's Echo book
Microsoft's digital assistant Cortana to the lock screen, allowing you to ask questions and get information without unlocking your device. This is like having Amazon Echo, or a similar always-on feature, on your computer.
Along with being available on your lock screen, the revamped Cortana will better remember the information she has collected and be able to recall it faster. Some of these updates are similar to what Siri will be able to do on the Mac in the upcoming MacOS Sierra.
Microsoft Edge gains Extensions and Windows Hello for logins
Internet Explorer was officially demoted to the minor leagues in Windows 10, in favor of the new Edge browser. Other browsers, including Safari, Firefox and Chrome have all had extensions (which allow for extra code to run on websites, but sometimes at the cost of performance or speed) for quite some time and a select number of these are now coming to Edge. At launch, Pinterest and Amazon Assistant will be available, with others coming later.
The bigger feature for Edge will be that Microsoft is releasing an API to developers that allows them to integrate Windows Hello for logins. This means you could potentially get into Netflix or Hulu just by showing your face to your computer's camera, though Microsoft did not mention any partners as yet.
Windows Ink adds more pen support
We saw first Windows Ink earlier this year, but now it's officially landing in Windows 10. It's a pen-enabled overlay that works almost anywhere on the OS. The nice thing about Windows Ink is that it can be a full page of notes or drawings, or it can overlay and provide you with smaller notes around the screen. It will be available for all touch-enabled devices, and most pens will work with the software.
Windows 10 is getting more secure
Windows Defender will now be able to do quick prescheduled scans of your computer, as well as provide a summary of what the scan finds. For business users, Defender is adding Advanced Threat Protection and Windows Information Protection. These new features are designed to keep data and confidential information safe and sound.
Not just for computers: Xbox gets new tricks too
For starters, Xbox Play Anywhere is coming August 2 and will let you play select games on both console and computer. Microsoft Studios, the company's game publishing division, has said that all its new titles will support Play Anywhere. The Windows Store will be unified as well, with the same interface and selection on both devices.
Cortana is coming to the Xbox and will help you find new games. Language Region Independence and Background Music, two of the most requested features, will be available as well.
The Windows 10 Anniversary Update launches on August 2, and will be free.