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Microsoft thinks you will freak out over the Anniversary Upgrade of Windows 10, expected in July this year. It’s the second big upgrade since the launch of Windows 10 in July 2015.

Both the RTM build and the subsequent November Upgrade An Insider Review of the Windows 10 Fall Update An Insider Review of the Windows 10 Fall Update The Windows 10 Fall Update contains many minor improvements, a few feature updates, and a bunch of new settings. We show you what to expect and which default settings you might want to adjust. Read More , aka build 1511, carried the codename Threshold. The codename for the current run is Redstone and the upcoming release will likely be build 1607.

As we learned during the Build keynote this week, the Anniversary Update will introduce new features to core applications of Windows 10, including Microsoft Edge, Cortana, and Skype. It will also improve the integration of apps via the Universal App Platform and expand the role of the Windows Store.

Here we highlight the most exciting features of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, which you will be able to get your hands on this summer.

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1. Microsoft Edge Extensions

Edge is Microsoft’s Windows 10 exclusive browser How to Set Up Microsoft Edge, the Default Browser in Windows 10 How to Set Up Microsoft Edge, the Default Browser in Windows 10 Microsoft's new Internet browser Edge made its first appearance in Windows 10 Insider Preview. It's still rough around the edges, but sleek and fast. We show you how to migrate and set it up. Read More . While Edge is a great browser overall Which Browser Is Best? Edge vs. Chrome vs. Opera vs. Firefox Which Browser Is Best? Edge vs. Chrome vs. Opera vs. Firefox The browser you're using right now may not be the best one for you. The browser arena changes so frequently that your conclusions from comparisons made last year may be completely wrong this year. Read More , its biggest weakness has been the lack of extensions. This changed with build 14291 of the Windows 10 Insider Preview, which introduced the much desired Edge Extensions Everything You Need to Know About Microsoft Edge Browser Extensions Everything You Need to Know About Microsoft Edge Browser Extensions The one feature Microsoft Edge has been missing is extensions. Windows Insiders can now test the first official extensions and manually port extensions from Google Chrome. We show you everything you need to know. Read More .

Edge Extensions Pane

Presently, three extensions can be downloaded from the Windows Developer website and many more are being released and tested by third-party developers. In Windows 10 Redstone, extensions will be available through the Windows Store and you can expect to see a wide selection of officially supported Edge extensions.

2. Cortana Becomes Smarter

Cortana, Microsoft’s virtual assistant How to Set Up Cortana & Remove Her in Windows 10 How to Set Up Cortana & Remove Her in Windows 10 Cortana is Microsoft's greatest productivity tool since Office. We'll show you how to get started with Windows 10's digital assistant or how to turn Cortana off for improved privacy. Read More , is one of Windows 10’s most attractive features 7 Best & Worst Windows 10 Features 7 Best & Worst Windows 10 Features Was Windows XP your favorite operating system, too? Windows 8 made me switch to OS X. Windows 10 has been my homecoming and while some features are convincing, others still need work. Find out where... Read More and she is receiving a number of serious updates.

Language Support

In the Anniversary Update, she masters additional languages: Spanish (Mexico), Portuguese (Brazil), and French (Canada), bringing the total of supported languages up to 13.

Each language setting comes with a regional customization:

In Brazil, Cortana is fond of pasteis which is a common food found in many regions across Brazil. And in Mexico, we added local flavor to reflect the accent and language of the country.

Timeless Reminders

A more subtle change concerns Cortana’s reminder function. She will be able to save reminders without a specific due date. For example, you could ask Cortana to remember a name or remind you of a task and she won’t insist on setting a due date to complete the reminder. You can always append further details like location or time later on. In the Anniversary Update, you will also be able to request Cortana to retrieve your saved reminders.

Cross-Device Notifications and Reminders

Good assistants have an overview of what’s happening across your devices. Starting with the Anniversary Update, Cortana will gain the power to check in with your phone or tablet, notify you of missed calls, messages, or notifications, and alert you when your mobile’s battery is running out.

While Microsoft didn’t highlight these features specifically, it seems like whatever superpowers are coming to Cortana, they will be available across devices, i.e. for Cortana on Android 7 Siri Alternatives for Android: Google Now, Cortana, & More 7 Siri Alternatives for Android: Google Now, Cortana, & More There are a lot of personal assistant apps in the Play Store, so we help you sort through the best of them. Read More , iOS, and Windows 10 Mobile.

Cortana Intelligence Suite

We will continue to see Cortana getting more deeply integrated into the operating system. Earlier in March, unnamed sources at Microsoft said that developers are “experimenting with having Cortana float around Windows 10,” offering her services inside documents and applications whenever needed.

During the Build keynote, Microsoft highlighted how Cortana will plug into Outlook and Skype. And we’re relieved to see that it won’t be anything like a supercharged Clippy. Cortana is much more subtle and useful.

Cortana Outlook

Not only will Cortana be available directly inside other apps, she will also collaborate with bots, basically plugins from third-party service providers that can enrich Cortana’s intelligent offerings. For example, Cortana could enlist the help of these bots to track packages, reserve seats at a restaurant, order a pizza, or book a hotel room.

Cortana Skype Bot

3. Ink Receives Improvements

Apparently, roughly 3 out of 4 people are using paper for an hour or more per day. Microsoft wants you to work with its touch devices as if they were paper.

To make the use of a digital pen as seamless and easy as old school pen and paper, they have worked on their Windows Ink features, including a sketchpad (similar to a drawing board; pictured below), which will be available from the lock screen, a digital ruler to make more precise sketches and draw straight lines, and digital sticky notes.

Windows Ink Stats

Cortana will automatically process your notes and highlight what she interprets as calls to action. In the example shown below, she recognized the world tomorrow and upon clicking it, she suggested a reminder.

Windows Ink Cortana

The Windows Ink platform will initially be supported by Adobe apps, Microsoft Office, Maps, and more applications in the future.

Other Notable Changes

BASH shell, the Linux command line, is coming to Windows 10. And not just that, it will be a full implementation of a Linux / Ubuntu sub-system into Windows Windows 10 Receives a Full Linux Command Prompt Windows 10 Receives a Full Linux Command Prompt BASH shell, complete with a Linux sub-system, is coming to Windows 10 with the Anniversary Update this summer. That was one of the biggest announcements at the Build Developer Conference. Here's why this matters. Read More , as Matthew Hughes explains in his in-depth post.

User Interface changes won’t be breathtaking, but they will add some consistency. You will be able to see the same image on the lock screen and the sign-in screen. Animations for resizing live tiles in the Start Menu will be smoother and tiles will be available in additional sizes.

File Explorer will eventually receive tabs. Finally!

Continuum Continuum: Switch Between Windows 10 Desktop & Tablet Mode Continuum: Switch Between Windows 10 Desktop & Tablet Mode Windows 10 recognizes your hardware and instantly chooses the best display mode. When you connect your Windows 10 Mobile to a larger screen, you'll get a PC-like experience. That's the smoothness of Continuum. Read More will blur the lines between your desktop and mobile devices. Apps will roam, Cortana will manage reminders, notifications, and status updates across devices, and you will be able to make phone calls or send SMS text messages from your desktop, using Cortana. This was also demonstrated during the Build keynote.

Cortana SMS

Windows Update How to Manage Windows Update in Windows 10 How to Manage Windows Update in Windows 10 For control freaks, Windows Update is a nightmare. It's designed to operate in the background, automatically keeping your system safe and running smoothly. We show you how it works and what you can customize. Read More will allow you to set active hours and restart times, so you won’t be bothered with installations and restart requests while you’re busy working.

Maps will let you “view several searches on a single map view at the same time,” writes Kushal Kapoor, Product Marketing Manager for the Windows Maps team. Other updates include labels for search results directly on the map, offline favorites, turn-by-turn directions in Cortana’s voice, even for public transit routes.

What they demonstrated during the Build keynote were new ink features that seamlessly adapt to 3D maps, like the one of Mount St. Helens.

Windows 10 Maps Ink

Photos, the universal photo viewer app, will receive intelligent search, similar to what’s already available on the OneDrive website. You will be able to search photos based on faces or places and teach Photos how to manage photos with specific people or taken in certain places.

Get Immediate Access to New Features

Can’t wait to get your hands onto new Windows 10 features? Why not join the Windows Insider program and help Microsoft test new Windows 10 builds. You can choose between the slow and fast release ring, depending on how adventurous you are. New builds are released to the slow ring once sufficient data from Insiders in the fast ring were collected to exclude major issues.

Windows Technical Preview Progression Model

If the slow ring still sounds too risky, Microsoft has recently introduced a third ring:

Release Preview – Best for Insiders who enjoy getting early access to updates for the Current Branch, Microsoft applications, and drivers, with minimal risk to their devices, and still want to provide feedback to make Windows devices great.

To join the Insider Preview Be the First to Test New Windows 10 Builds as Windows Insider Be the First to Test New Windows 10 Builds as Windows Insider Windows Insiders are the first to test new Windows 10 builds. They are also the first to suffer from bugs. Here we show you how to join or leave the program and how to share... Read More , sign up for the program, then enter the Settings app How to Control Windows 10: The Settings Guide How to Control Windows 10: The Settings Guide The Windows control panel is on its way out. Its replacement, the Settings app, has received a significant upgrade in Windows 10. We'll reveal all its secrets for you. Read More via the Start Menu or they keyboard shortcut Windows key + I. Head to Update & Security > Advanced options and click Get started under the Get Insider builds header. Should this option not be available, double-check whether you’re logged into Windows with your Microsoft account The Pros and Cons of Using a Microsoft Account with Windows The Pros and Cons of Using a Microsoft Account with Windows A single Microsoft Account allows you to log into a wide range of Microsoft services and apps. We show you the pros and cons of using a Microsoft Account with Windows. Read More (Settings > Accounts > Your emails and account) and whether you permitted Full or Enhanced collection of Diagnostic and usage data (Settings > Privacy > Feedback & diagnostics).

What’s Next for Windows 10?

Several features we expected for the Anniversary Update, like the return of smart folders for OneDrive, might get rolled into a second Redstone upgrade (RS2), currently scheduled for spring 2017. RS2 is believed to be synchronized with the release of new Windows 10 hardware from Microsoft. As of now, it remains unclear which features Microsoft will focus on for the third major upgrade of Windows 10.

Which upcoming Windows 10 features 7 Features I Wish Windows 10 Had (Done Right) 7 Features I Wish Windows 10 Had (Done Right) Windows 10 is a controversial beast. Many love it, others can't find anything but faults. We have summarized features that could have been done better or are missing in the first place. Read More are you most looking forward to? Are there any features we haven’t mentioned that you think are essential? Please share your thoughts in the comments and lets discuss!

Image Credits: First Birthday by SpeedKingz via Shutterstock

  1. jshaw
    April 12, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    I have yet to use Cortana in any form. Once the July update is installed, I will probably change that.

    As to the start menu, Items I use most I tag to the taskbar, second most to the start tiles and the rest in the apps list.

    The idea of replacing the control panel with settings bothers me a bit. I don't see the reason nor any benefit.

  2. Peeta
    April 1, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    Sorry SDL, Apple has just as many updates and they won't shut up about them (I have both 10 and El Capitan. )

  3. jean-louis.morard
    April 1, 2016 at 8:50 am

    I agree with Howard about the control panel. The control panel as on windows 7 is much more powerful. It's also where you can configure practically anything (along with mmc). The new app with windows 10 is only for guys who want to set up the basic things. This split is just annoying.
    Another point: the new look & feel of Windows 8/10. Sorry, the GUI is not beautiful. Everything's flat, without relief, with basic colors and themes. I have the the impression to be back to Windows 3.1. Microsoft, please, have a look at OSX. If Microsoft wants to be successful, the GUI has to be as nice as OSX.

    From a technical point of view, I appreciate the new Windows 10. It's (soon) a great OS.

    • mark
      April 1, 2016 at 2:21 pm

      Disagree about the look and feel. Strip all of the BS out and make it as fast and stable as possible. I need to get work done and could care less about the glaring colors and obfuscated icons and animated cpu cycle waste.

  4. SDL
    April 1, 2016 at 3:36 am

    It doesn't matter what goodies they hang on Windows 10. Most adults who use a computer as a work tool don't use any of those bells and whistles anyway. If Microsoft doesn't return control of updates to the user, I will never "upgrade" to Windows 10. I cannot and will not tolerate being forced to download multi-gigabyte updates when I may be connected via a pay-per-megabyte connection. I cannot and will not tolerate having Microsoft interrupt an important transaction with a mandatory restart and update delay. The abominable "modern" start screen on Windows 8 was bad enough (thank God for Classic Shell!). But Microsoft's tyrannical new update scheme is a non-starter. If they don't relent before I have to buy a new computer, that new computer will run OS X.

    Microsoft (and, to be sure, Apple too) have long since stopped making improvements that help users and now make arbitrary changes to entertain the geeks in their own back rooms. For the average user who just wants a useful tool, the constant changes are nothing but a disruptive and expensive pain in the butt.

  5. Andy G
    April 1, 2016 at 3:34 am

    "Cortana Intelligence Suite

    We will continue to see Cortana getting more deeply integrated into the operating system. Earlier in March, unnamed sources at Microsoft said that developers are “experimenting with having Cortana float around Windows 10,” offering her services inside documents and applications whenever needed."

    Oh joy, Clippy's back. Well, that only took a generation or so.

    • mark
      April 1, 2016 at 2:26 pm

      Except clippy didn't invade your privacy and follow you onto your phone. I disable Cortana as much as possible and don't want a MS snoop listening in on every word I say.

      • Andy G
        April 1, 2016 at 2:32 pm

        Yeah, it's the new, "improved", Clippy ;( DItto here, I turn it all off. I only use Windows for gaming (Linux for important work that has to be secure) so I'm not as worried about security as some (legitimately) are, but for me,Cortana sure is bloody annoying.
        If I could turn the entire UI off, I would, actually ;)

  6. Tawney Mazek
    March 31, 2016 at 5:43 pm

    I agree about the Control Panel - it is so much easier to find what you want. I would really like the ability to pin what I want to the start menu (as of old). As for the changes in your article - I don't use them so they don't interest me (I lead such a simple life that Google Now can't figure out what to show me.)

  7. Howard Blair
    March 31, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    I think the best thing they could do is eliminate the "Settings" app and go back to (an updated and refined) Control Panel. The split personality with the Settings App and Control Panel is frustrating.
    Also hoping for the day they drop .NET Framework/Modern UI/Universal Windows - running a half-baked Windows-on-ARM framework didn't work, not even Microsoft is running Windows on ARM Surface tablets any more - but I'm not going to hold my breath.

    • likefun butnot
      April 12, 2016 at 4:28 pm

      @Howard Blair,

      .NET is just an application framework, an optional, updated set of components for making applications that run. .NET is meant in large part to replace some of the ".DLL hell" that Windows applications are so famous for having. It's also at least technically cross-platform, in that Mono (a cross-platform implementation of .NET components for Linux, OSX and technically Windows as well) is a thing that exists.

      .NET is actually a good thing from a developer standpoint, since it standardizes a lot of interfaces and makes writing cross-platform code easier for Microsoft-centric developers, and for users, who just have to keep on Windows component up to date instead of crap-tons of individual library files.

      Windows-on-ARM does still exist since Windows phones are still a thing. Having Windows as a mobile device option isn't a bad idea at all, since it's one of only a very small number of mobile device operating system options, and since there can be value to having mobile devices that can integrate and be managed by Windows Directory Services in the same way as personal computers. It's also a good demonstration that Windows is not entirely married to x86-type platforms.

      In closing, the ModernUI-style apps don't necessarily have anything to do with either .NET or Windows/ARM; they're their own separate idea that can be considered on their own merit or lack thereof.

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