Anniversaries are all about good things, and the Windows 10 anniversary is no different.
On Aug. 2, Microsoft releases the anniversary edition of Windows 10 and is celebrating by adding multiple Windows upgrades that should improve Cortana, its intelligent personal assistant; security; and e-commerce, videos and data sharing in the Edge browser.
Windows 10 was first seen in public at Build 2014. It entered public beta testing in October 2014, and became generally available on July 29, 2015. This year, July 29 is on a Friday so Microsoft has pushed the anniversary release forward by a few days to Aug. 2.
Microsoft had to do something nice to mark the big day for a couple reasons: The operating system is now present on 350 million devices, according to Microsoft. That;s great. But what's not so good is that the company really annoyed users of previous Windows operating systems by forcing them to upgrade to Windows 10 — like it or not.
Take Windows 10 and ...
A California travel agent just won a $10,000 settlement after an involuntary upgrade from her beloved Windows 7 to Windows 10 crashed her computer — right in the middle of her busiest season.
Teri Goldstein won her judgment in small-claims court, where $10,000 is the maximum she could claim. Microsoft initially appealed the decision but later reconsidered "to avoid the expense of further litigation," a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement.
Goldstein said she was shocked when the new operating system downloaded automatically and tried unsuccessfully to install, leaving her computer sluggish and unstable. The "upgrade" actually occurred before Microsoft instituted a policy in February that pushed Windows 10 out to users as a "recommended update," which meant it automatically installed unless it was actively blocked by the user.
Chalk it up to the loss in small claims court or just a little anniversary benevolence, but Microsoft is now changing the notices it sends to users of previous versions of Windows. Under the new policy, only those that actually want the upgrade will get it.
If you do want it, act fast. Windows users have only until the end of July to upgrade to Windows 10 free of charge. As of Aug. 1, it will cost $119 to upgrade.
About that Mobile First, Cloud First Thing
What Microsoft really wants is everybody to love Windows 10. It will advance CEO Satya Nadella's Mobile First, Cloud First strategy, and potentially help overcome what appears to be an irreversible decline in the desktop business.
With Windows 10 Microsoft introduced "universal apps," which can be run across all Microsoft products, including including PCs, tablets, smartphones and embedded systems with almost identical code.
The new interface moved Microsoft from the desktop to the touchscreen, while still preserving users' abilities to work on desktops.
Windows Anniversary Presents
According to a blog post, the anniversary release “includes features that bring Windows Ink and Cortana to the mainstream; a faster, more accessible and more power-efficient Microsoft Edge browser; advanced security features for consumers and enterprises.”
Everyone running Windows 10 will get these new features for free.
There are six areas of improvement which, globally speaking, push Windows forward. Three areas stand out:
Currently available for Windows Phone, PC with Windows 10 and soon Xbox One, Cortana is an intelligent personal assistant. According to Microsoft there are around 1,000 Cortana apps in the Windows Store.
Cortana can now be activated by voice command even when the screen is locked and enables users to order it to play music or set reminders without unlocking the device. More importantly, it now digs deeper for information on your computer or device and enables users to also add photos to reminders and provides notifications across all the devices.
Microsoft has also given attention to the Edge browser, which has become a heavily used application for commerce, watching videos and sharing with others. With a focus on accessibility, it has taken Edge forward with support for modern web standards, including HTML5, CSS3 and ARIA, while making page structure and content presentation clearer.
Security has also been improved with Windows Hello for apps and websites and Windows Defender.
“To help protect businesses from accidental data leaks — the biggest source of lost data — the Anniversary Update delivers Windows Information Protection, formerly referred to as enterprise data protection. Windows Information Protection enables businesses to separate personal and organizational data and helps protect corporate data where ever it goes,” according to a Windows blog.