Microsoft has finally released the Anniversary Update for Windows 10 devices, including both PCs and smartphones, thus delivering the first major pack of improvements since the debut of the new operating system, and the second update following the November Update in late 2015. The Anniversary Update is also known as Redstone 1, or the first wave of Redstone, with a second release to take place in early 2017, when Microsoft is projected to introduce even more improvements to Windows 10, but this time with increased focus on mobile devices.
First and foremost, there’s a completely new feature called “Windows Ink,” which enables you to use Windows 10 devices just like a traditional piece of paper.
If you’re a long-time Microsoft enthusiast, you’re probably aware of Microsoft’s obsession with the Surface Pen, the must-have accessory that comes with every Surface tablet or laptop. With this update, Microsoft is pushing this fascination from hardware to software and delivers a dedicated solution that lets users create sticky notes on the desktop, draw on a whiteboard, and share content easily straight from the desktop.
Most major apps have already been updated to benefit from support for Windows Ink, including Maps, Edge browser, and Office, so you can work naturally with a pen when creating documents or browsing the web.
The Start menu has also received an updated design in the Anniversary Update, so it now comes with a hamburger icon that offers access to your account settings, File Explorer, settings, and power controls. The new Start menu is all about apps, and Microsoft says that it wanted to put them at the core of everything, so the “All apps” view is now right at the center of the new design.
The store has been revamped with a look that makes more sense in an evolved operating system and is now more consistent across several devices, with app details displayed in a much more effective way than before.
A dark theme has been implemented for several universal apps, including Clock, Calculator, and Settings, so if you were hoping to see the dark visual style expanded to the entire operating system, this is happening with the Anniversary Update.
Cortana will also get a significant update, and with the debut of the new version, the personal assistant can work directly on the lock screen and perform a number of tasks without even unlocking the device. Additionally, Cortana is also responsible for notifications that are synced between mobile phones and PCs, including from Android devices (as long as the same Microsoft account is being used on the Android phone and the Windows 10 PC).
Microsoft Edge, the new default browser in Windows 10, is being overhauled with several small touches here and there, but also with support for extensions. At this point, there are several popular extensions available in the store, and users can download any of them with just one click, just like any other regular app. Ad blockers, password managers, and other small utilities have already been ported to Edge.
In addition to all these major changes, there are tons of minor updates that you’re going to discover as you use the operating system, including new icons, better performance, and app updates that should have a significant contribution to your experience with Windows 10.