Microsoft officially released the highly anticipated Windows 10 Anniversary Update on 2nd August but the scale of the roll-out means they may stagger the updates gradually. Microsoft has introduced several new features and improvements to this update, so we have summarised some of the main ones for you.
- Redesigned Start Menu The Start Menu has been continually changed by Microsoft in the past few versions of Windows. Most notably the removal of the start menu from Windows 8 and introduction of the unpopular Metro layout. The Start Menu was then reintroduced in Windows 10, albeit with a smaller, integrated Metro style tile layout. This has been modified in the Anniversary Update as the ‘All apps’ option is now redundant, and the Start menu now shows a full list of installed applications in alphabetical order. It still borrows the ‘Most used’ from Windows 10 and adds a list of ‘Recently added’ apps to a maximum of three. Typing into the Start menu to perform a search still works how you would expect though.
- Action Centre With the introduction of the Action Centre, Microsoft took a much-loved mobile staple and added it to the traditional Windows desktop. It worked relatively well in Windows 10, but here it’s been tweaked and allows greater ease of use and customisation. The Action Centre has a new home – it now appears as the furthest icon to the right in the system tray and it is possible to view at a glance the number of unread notifications. Notifications are now grouped by app, which means you are able to see more and can be assigned Normal, High or Priority, which has a bearing on their visibility. If you have so far enjoyed the Android integration, this is where you will receive all of your Android activity too.
- Dark Mode (and Others) A ‘dark mode’ was previously available for Windows 10 but was hidden in the registry settings. Now it’s far easier to activate by navigating to the colours page and activating it or any other palette of choice. Confusingly, you won’t find it in the ‘Themes’ settings as it hides away on the ‘Colours’ page. Scroll down to the ‘Choose your app mode’ area and select your palette of choice. If you want more control over your colours, you can always take advantage of the accent settings and use the toggles to describe where you would like them to appear.
- Cortana Android App Installing the new Cortana app for Android allows Microsoft’s virtual assistant to mirror all of your phone’s notifications on your Windows 10 PC. This includes details of any missed calls, new messages and even the status of your phone’s battery. Much like Google’s web-based Android Device Manager, Cortana can also find your phone should the need arise.
- Edge Gets Extension Support, Pinned Sites and More Microsoft’s Edge had something of a difficult start in life. The browser made its debut with the release of Windows 10 but it is unpopular with many users due to its general lack of usability and support. With the Anniversary Edition update, it looks like there might be some hope for Edge’s future yet, thanks to a much-needed functionality boost. As well as finally being able to pin tabs, there is a browser extension manager and support for web notifications. Pinned tabs work just as you would expect, but if you are looking to add extensions to the Edge browser, you will be directed to the Windows Store first, where there is a large choice of different plugins.
- Windows Ink The Anniversary Update adds greater drawing and annotation support through something Microsoft calls Windows Ink for touchscreen devices running Windows 10. The Workspace hides a number of revamped touch experiences. The Sticky Notes app is now able to recognise certain words or phrases, and with Cortana’s help turn your handwriting into calendar entries or places on a map. Meanwhile, Screen Sketch lets you capture a window, app or your entire desktop and add your own annotations which can then be shared with others. Microsoft has also reintroduced swiping controls to the Edge browser (last seen in Windows 8). Flicking left and right in a browser window moves you backwards and forwards as you would expect.
- Universal Skype App Microsoft has bundled another Skype client in with the Anniversary Update in a move to further realise its universal app dreams. So far we have seen desktop and Metro iterations and if this trend continued, it is likely we would have had standalone Skype video, phone and messaging apps too. Fortunately, Microsoft changed its focus on Skype and instead decided to bundle all of this functionality into one app. The result comes in the form of the Skype Preview application. This makes it possible to send and receive SMS messages from a PC if used in conjunction with Skype Preview for Windows 10 Mobile or Android.
- Improved Windows Updates Windows Updates had just two options: automatic or scheduled restart. With Automatic enabled, inevitably your PC would restart at the most inconvenient moment. A scheduled restart was a little better but you could forget the time you specified and find yourself in a similar position. Microsoft now allows you to set ‘Active hours’, essentially a blocked-out period of time that stops Windows 10 installing new updates and performing an automatic restart. It is also possible to grant Windows the power to use your sign-in information to finish installing major updates, which removes one extra step from the whole process.
If you would like any further information about Windows 10 and how to get the best from it, please contact Vantage IT.