Microsoft readies Windows 10 update
The first-year anniversary of the Windows 10 launch is still about a month away but the next major iteration of the company's operating system is coming soon.
Microsoft executive Yusuf Mehdi announced the Windows 10 Anniversary Update will become available on August 2.
Ahead of July 29, the one-year anniversary launch date, anyone running Windows 10 on a PC today can request the upgrade for free, after which it will cost US$119. Either way, you'll still have to wait until August 2 to get it.
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Mehdi says that more than 350 million devices are currently running Windows 10 worldwide, with customer satisfaction levels higher than any previous version of Windows.
Engagement has also been at an all-time high - since launch, Windows 10 has been used more than 135 billion hours.
However, Microsoft is still reeling after a court ordered it to pay a woman US$10,000 (NZ$14,300) for forcing an unwanted Windows 10 upgrade onto her computer.
Here's some of what Microsoft is promising in the update:
According to Microsoft, there are 250 million online threats posed on any given day.
While Microsoft will tell you that Windows 10 is already the most secure version of Windows ever, the company is beefing up security in the new update just the same.
One way is through Windows Hello, which (with proper hardware) will enable you to use biometrics measures such as facial recognition in lieu of passwords to authenticate your identify.
You'll be able to use Windows Hello with companion devices to unlock your PC as well. According to Mehdi's post, more than 90 per cent of people have abandoned web sites instead of locating a forgotten password because security hasn't been easy enough to use.
Microsoft also says it has improved Windows Defender, its anti-malware software.
A separate feature, Windows Information Protection, aims to plug data leaks by letting businesses segregate personal and organisational data.
ADVANCED INKING FEATURES
Though you'll need hardware that supports the use of a digital stylus, the Anniversary edition of Windows is said to improve the experience of writing with such a digital instrument.
The so-called Windows Ink workspace is a canvas for everything ink-related. Digital ink features include, sticky notes, a whiteboard doodling area, and a quick link to the the Windows Store for ink-powered apps, including several from third party developers.
A SMARTER CORTANA
Microsoft's vocal digital assistant Cortana is now available, at least for certain tasks, on the lock screen.
Cortana can handle questions, play music and or set a reminder without you having to separately log into your computer. And Microsoft says Cortana can retain such information as your frequent flier number, or where you parked at the airport.
A MORE POWER EFFICIENT EDGE BROWSER
Microsoft claims that Edge will sap less power. You'll also be able to personalise the browser with "extensions" such as Pinterst's "Pin It Button" and Amazon Assistant. These and others will be available in the Windows Store.
GOODIES FOR GAMERS
According to Microsoft, 9 billion hours have been devoted to gameplay on Windows 10 devices.
With the Anniversary update, and the Xbox Play Anywhere program, you can buy a game one time and then freely play it on your Windows 10 PC and Xbox One, sharing saved games and achievements across the devices.
On Xbox One, you'll be able to summon Cortana help you find new games, see what pals are doing, and turn on your console with a "Hey Cortana, Xbox On" command.