Software

The Windows 10 Anniversary Update is upon us... ready or not

If the Microsoft Windows 10 Anniversary Update hasn't come to your devices yet, it will soon. Here are a few highlights of what's on the way.

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Image: Microsoft News

As of August 2, 2016, the Windows 10 Anniversary Update is generally available to every Windows 10 device. Of course, the IT departments inside many enterprises are going to want to control when and how the update is applied, so employees in those organizations should not expect it to appear until thoroughly tested. Consumers, on the other hand, should look for the update soon—that is, if it hasn't been applied already.

For the impatient

If you don't want to wait for Windows to deliver the Anniversary Update on its own schedule, you can force the issue by navigating to the Windows Update screen and clicking the Check For Updates button. For most systems, that should be enough to get the ball rolling, but if it is not, click the Learn More link on the Windows Update Screen. It will take you to a website that will jumpstart the process for you.

Be forewarned: Depending on your computer and the applications you have installed, the process can take as little as 30 minutes to as much as two hours. On the two computers I have updated so far, the Windows 10 Anniversary Update has taken well over an hour to complete for each. The update could involve several restarts and most of the process will lock you out of your computer, so plan accordingly.

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New features

The new feature you will probably notice first is the ability to perform some actions above the login screen. For example, with the Anniversary Update, you can activate Cortana with the "Hey Cortana" catch phrase and ask it to play music or change an appointment on your calendar, all without having to log in to the PC itself.

If you use a digital pen as one of your input devices, you can take advantage of Windows Ink, which is an integral part of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. Ink allows you to use your tablet like it was a paper notebook, and if you set it up, you can also take notes above the login screen. The PC will interpret and file those notes away for future reference.

The Anniversary Update also includes an improved version of Windows Defender. Besides the usual virus scanning and real-time protection, this new version, if you allow it, will tap into the Microsoft cloud to find new threats sooner and deploy counter actions faster.

Bottom line

In many ways, the Windows 10 Anniversary Update is a consumer-driven product. A lot of the new features are designed to make an individual's experience with Windows 10 more pleasant. But the update will still prove useful to enterprises looking to unlock the collaborative potential of its workforce.

The Anniversary Update expands the capabilities of Cortana as a digital assistant and with Windows Ink, the digital pen is starting to reveal its potential as a preferred input device. Overall, the Windows 10 Anniversary Update seems to be a good one.

However, since Microsoft is treating this update as non-optional at the consumer level, there are bound to be some hiccups and complaints, and even some disasters reported during the next few weeks. The success of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update has yet to be decided.

Also read...

Your thoughts

Have you deployed the Windows 10 Anniversary Update? How long did it take? Any problems?

About Mark Kaelin

Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.

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