Windows 10 Anniversary Update: Everything You Need to Know Before You Apply the Big Update

Windows 10 Anniversary Update is releasing today, Tuesday, August 2, 2016 to users. Anniversary Update is the second major update to Windows 10 after Threshold 2 (November Update). Windows 10 Anniversary Update promises tons of new features, performance improvements, etc. Here’s everything you need to know about the Windows 10 Anniversary Update before you install the update.

Windows 10

Windows 10 Anniversary Update: Everything You Need to Know

If you are a Windows Insider, you already got sneak peaks of the new features of the Anniversary Update over the past few months through preview builds. Some notable changes that we have seen are extension support for Microsoft Edge, smarter inking features via Windows Ink, etc.

All these changes are not necessarily for better. There were also rumors that the internal Anniversary Update builds at Microsoft included pop-up advertisements for apps and games if you have Windows Store pinned to the taskbar. It’s not clear however if they were just some internal tests carried out by Microsoft or if they may be included in the release. The Anniversary Update will no longer allow you to disable Cortana completely. Administrators will no longer be able to manage Windows 10 tips, tricks and Windows Store suggestions using Group Policy or mobile device management.

How to Get Windows 10 Anniversary Update?

For general users, expect to get the Windows 10 Anniversary Update delivered via the Windows Update. Although, do not expect to see the Anniversary Update on August 2, 2016 in the Windows Update. Microsoft says it will gradually make available the Anniversary Update given that they need to deliver it to more than 350 million devices running Windows 10 around the world.

Windows 10 Settings app

If the Anniversary Update is not delivered automatically, you can manually get it via the Windows Update. Go to Start > Settings app > Update & security > Windows Update, and then click on Check for updates.

Windows 10 Update Assistant website

If your PC still fails to get the update via the Windows Update, you can always download the Anniversary Update via Microsoft Windows Media Creation Tool. Although Microsoft made the Windows Media Creation Tool for new installations of Windows 10, many people use it as a backup resource for in-place upgrade.

Windows 10 Update Assistant

Microsoft advises to keep around 3 GB of storage space free for the Anniversary Update. You should not forget to take a backup of your PC before applying the Anniversary Update.

Some Notable New Features Coming with the Anniversary Update

Windows 10

The Anniversary Update promises to bring in many new features to the Windows 10 operating system. Some we have already mentioned like better inking capabilities, extensions for Microsoft Edge, better compatibility of Windows Defender with third-party antivirus suites, now here’s some more. The Anniversary Update offers deeper integration between your PC and your mobile device via Cortana, a Linux Bash shell, and much more. Here are the details.

Linux Bash Shell

This feature may only be relevant for developers, but it’s exciting to have Bash shell in Windows 10. Microsoft partnered with Canonical, the organization behind Ubuntu Linux, to carry out this. The Bash shell in Windows 10 is powerful enough to run graphical Linux software or even Ubuntu’s desktop Unity in Windows 10. Although, overall it’s still very limited in power. After all, Microsoft doesn’t want Windows 10 to be a platform for Linux adoption.

Virtual Desktop Pins

The virtual desktop feature which was introduced in Windows 10 now lets you pin an open app to all virtual desktops. This is very handy if you want to a particular app open in the front always. To activate the new feature, open the Task View used to manage virtual desktops. Now, right-click on the window you want to pin, select Show this window on all desktops.

Dark Theme

Windows 10 Anniversary Update adds a new dark theme. You can find the new dark theme at Settings app > Personalization > Colors.

Windows 10 Anniversary Update Dark Theme

Activation Troubleshooter

Windows 10 now allows you to tie your Windows license to your Microsoft Account rather than the hardware. This is done using a new tool called “Activation Troubleshooter.” This means you have to rely less on Microsoft Support for reactivating your Windows license. There’s a limit to the amount of reactivation. So do not expect to buy a single Windows 10 license and use it for life.

Windows 10 Activation Troubleshooter

Microsoft Edge Improvements

Microsoft Edge is finally getting extension support. You can install extensions in Microsoft Edge by clicking on the ellipse menu at the upper-right corner of Edge window, scrolling down to Extensions, and installing them like any other app. Cortana is now more deeply integrated with Edge.

Microsoft Edge Extensions

The browser is now able to sync your bookmarks and more with multiple devices if you have set your Microsoft Account to sync information across devices. Microsoft Edge will support web notifications just like you get in Google Chrome and Firefox. The only difference is those notifications will be shown in the Action Center.

Windows Hello

Windows Hello biometrics authentication support is moving beyond the login screen to Windows Store apps in the Anniversary Update. That means that if you have hardware to support it and software that supports Windows Hello, you will be able to sign into apps with your face or the swipe of a finger.

Windows Ink

Windows Ink is improved in the Anniversary Update. You can pull up a dedicated “ink workspace” with tools and apps that support stylus. Windows Ink also includes a “digital ruler” to make sure your digital scribblings line up straight.

More Deeply Integrated Cortana Digital Assistance

Cortana is getting more deeply integrated with the Anniversary Update. The personal digital assistant is becoming more proactive and powerful as Microsoft grants her greater access to the Office, Outlook, and Calendar apps. It is also accessible from the lock screen now. Developers will also be able use it in their apps.

The new and improved Cortana will also gain closer ties to Windows 10 Mobile, Android, and iPhone with Microsoft’s Cortana app installed. The digital assistant will be able to pull notifications and low-battery warnings from your phone and beam them to your PC. You’ll be able to receive your Android or Windows 10 Mobile phone’s notifications on your Windows PC. The communication will go both ways, too.

Here’s a bad news if you do not like Cortana. After the Anniversary Update, you will no longer be able to disable Cortana completely.

Redesigned Start Menu

Microsoft is slightly redesigning the Windows 10 Start Menu in the Anniversary Update. The earlier version displayed your most-used and recently added apps, with various settings (power, system settings, etc.) at the bottom of the menu. The Anniversary Update now stacks all those various power and settings options to icon status in a new-found left-hand rail. The Start Menu now displays all of your installed apps underneath the most-used and recently added ones in the main list. Unfortunately, the new Start Menu was also filled with more “suggested apps”.

Windows 10 Anniversary Update Start Menu Redesigned

The Connect App

The new Connect app lets you wirelessly connect your phone to a PC using Windows 10 Mobile’s killer Continuum feature, no docks or Miracast adapters necessary. Your phone’s Continuum desktop simply runs inside a window on the other PC. And if you’re using a Windows 10 PC capable of casting Miracast signals, you can use the Connect app to beam its display to other Windows 10 PCs.

Universal Skype App

Skype rolled out a new Universal Windows Platform (UWP) app for the service. You’ll now receive notifications for incoming messages and calls regardless of whether the app is actually open or not.

Xbox Play Anywhere

Xbox Play Anywhere is an awesome feature from Microsoft that lets you buy a game once and play it on Windows 10 and the Xbox One console alike, complete with cross-platform multiplayer and cloud-based saves that travel with you from device to device.

Action Center Tweaks

Microsoft is tweaking the Action Center in the Anniversary Update. You can now set priority levels for each app, so only those notifications you care about the most will appear at the top of your Action Center feed. You can also set limits for how many notifications an app can show. The default number of notifications is set to three. The Action Center’s icon in the taskbar will display a badge showing how many unread notifications you have.

Taskbar Notification Icons

The Anniversary Update brings notification badges to any universal Windows app pinned to your taskbar. The notification icons will show the number of unattended tasks you have.

Redesigned Taskbar Calendar

The calendar found in Windows 10’s taskbar is getting an overhaul in the Anniversary Update. It is now getting tied with the main Calendar app. From now on clicking on the time/date in your taskbar brings up a calendar view complete with an overview of your tasks for the day. The time and date will also show up in your taskbar on every connected display, not just your main display.

Battery Tweaks

The “Battery Saver” will now be known as “Battery,” with all battery-related settings packed within. The per-app settings for each Windows Store apps now include a Managed by Windows option in addition to the Always allowed in background and Never allowed in background choices.

Groove Music Mini-player

From now on if you hover over the Groove icon in the taskbar, and you’ll see some minimal controls to play, pause, and skip between tracks. A much-needed update for Groove Music player fans.

New Emoji!

Last but not the least! Windows 10 Anniversary Update brings in many new emoji! Look out for some special Ninja Cat emoji. With the Anniversary Update, Windows 10 will support Unicode 9.0 with all new emoji including ROFL, face palm and bacon.

Windows 10 Anniversary Update Emoji

Are you getting your PC ready for the Windows 10 Anniversary Update? Let us know about your plans, what you love, what you hate about this big update through comments below.

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