Windows 10 Anniversary Update

Windows 10’s next big update, dubbed the “Anniversary Update”, is due out this summer.  Microsoft’s website indicates “July 2016” so one could surmise that it will come out on July 29th, the one year anniversary of the release of Windows 10.  There are many new and interesting changes and updates included.  Here are a few of them:

Cortana
Arguably the biggest update is Cortana. Microsoft continues to expand on what Cortana can do, clearly trying to make it the most powerful assistant in an increasingly growing pool of competition (Siri, Google Now, Alexa; etc.). This time around, Cortana comes to the Windows 10 lock screen, so you can invoke her at any time even before you log in to your system. It can also push stuff to and from your mobile device, including notifications and text messages. It can also make proactive suggestions for you. If you receive email confirmation of flight details, it’ll add them to your calendar. Furthermore, if you add an appointment to your calendar, it’ll know if that appointment overlaps with another, and ask you if you want to reschedule one of the overlapping events. Or, if you have a meeting during lunch it’ll ask if you want to book a table, or make a to-go order, based on the apps you have available. In short, Cortana is getting more proactive, so you don’t have to be on top of your own stuff.

Windows 10 Interacts with Your Phone
Microsoft has also announced that Cortana will now integrate with the Cortana application on your Android or Windows smartphone. You’ll just need to install the Cortana Android app and sign in with the same Microsoft account on both devices. iPhone users are out of luck, as iOS is too locked down for Microsoft to integrate with it as deeply.  This is available now for Android in the US and is expected in Canada to coincide with the update.

Cortana can mirror all your Android phone’s notifications to your PC, giving you all your notifications in Windows 10’s Action Center. You’ll also see a notification on your PC when your smartphone has low battery power, so you’ll know when to charge it. Cortana will offer a “find my phone” feature that can remotely geolocate your phone on a map or ring it if you lose it in nearby. Ask Cortana for “directions to [place]” on your PC, and you’ll see those same directions on your phone. These are just the current features, too, so you can expect Microsoft to add more.

Cortana will also soon support something called “Messaging Everywhere”.  Receive an SMS message on your phone and it’ll pop up on your Windows 10 PC. You can respond from your computer and the message will be sent through your phone. The various features are already integrated into the Messaging app on Windows 10.

Windows Hello
Windows Hello is Microsoft’s new biometric security system built into Windows 10. Through facial recognition or a fingerprint, you can log in to Windows 10 instantly, authenticate purchases from the Store, and much more in the future.  Say goodbye to cumbersome passwords.

Windows Ink
Windows Ink is, according to Microsoft, an “all-new experience” focused on “putting the power of Windows in the tip of your pen.” Or finger for that matter.  Windows Ink is designed to make writing on your device — whether that’s a touchscreen laptop or a tablet — as easy as taking notes on physical paper. It’s a combination of pen-specific apps and integration into existing apps (including Maps, Edge, and Office).

Edge updates
Microsoft’s new web browser is getting some major updating including pinned tabs, web notifications, support for browser extensions and more.

Microsoft is also improving notifications in the Action Centre as well as adding new notification badges to the taskbar.  For example, if you have a bunch of Facebook updates, it will display a Facebook icon with a counter in the taskbar.

On the games front, Microsoft is making is so that you can play and connect with gamers across Xbox One and Windows 10 devices.  As well for all Windows 10 users, they are offering the forthcoming Forza Motorsport 6: Apex for the low, low price of free!  You can checkout a preview video of Forza Motorsport 6: Apex here

*Don’t forget that if you’re still running Windows 7 or 8.1 you can upgrade to Windows 10 for free only until July 29th through Windows Update.