It’s already been a year since Microsoft launched Windows 10, and we have had a couple of updates since release. The biggest update yet though is the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, which was codenamed Redstone throughout its development. It’s the first major branch from the launch codebase, which was codenamed Threshold. With it, Microsoft has added a lot of new features, polished some of the  interface , and overall provided a nice update to those on Windows 10.

The Road to Redstone

Windows 10 had a pretty strong launch, although the company did stumble a bit through some controversy over the last year: especially in the area of the collection of data from the operating system. Windows 10 was a big change in policy for Microsoft, with the goal of being able to improve the experience however there was a period of time where the answers from the Redmond company were vague at best. Much of that has been answered now, and although the answers won’t appease everyone the end result of anonymous telemetry data can certainly be seen with this update. With this update, we see fixes for many user interface issues, as well as the constant squashing of bugs. There was also plenty of deserved controversy around the underhanded Get Windows 10 dialogs on older versions of the Operating System. Confusing would be an understatement, and the dialogs got progressively more deceitful over the year, until only recently a large outcry resulted in the company accepting that they had gone to far and toned them back.

Despite the controversy, Windows 10 has been pretty successful over the last year. The last update from Microsoft’s Yusuf Mehdi on June 29th was that there were over 350 million devices running Windows 10 now, which is a pretty healthy number considering the decline in the PC market. Windows 10 is also a big part of the Xbox One, and it also includes IoT and Windows 10 Mobile. Microsoft had set a target of 1 billion devices running Windows 10 by mid-2018, and although they have admitted they likely won’t hit that goal now with the practical exit of the phone market, they still could hit that mark later in their 2018 fiscal year.

Part of that initial uptake in Windows 10 was due to the already mentioned free Windows 10 Update for all computers running Windows 7 or later. This was the first time ever that Microsoft has taken the tactic of eliminating the upgrade fee, but they had a couple of reasons to do so. In enabling their users to move to Windows 10, it would expand the reach of their built-in services, including OneDrive, Bing, and the Windows Store. The other motivating factor was that Microsoft was pretty eager to avoid another mess that they had with Windows XP, where a big chunk of their user base was stuck on an outdated version of the operating system. For the users, it meant a lot of money in support, as well as long term legacy teams back at Microsoft. Windows 7 was certainly set up to be the same, with a solid framework and stable platform, and we will see how they make out when Windows 7 starts to run into the end of its long term support window. Already they’ve seen some large corporations make the move to Windows 10, with many more actively piloting it now, so perhaps the XP mess might have been avoided.

But enough about the past. The Windows 10 Anniversary Update brings a lot of welcome changes to Windows 10, and many of them have been actively adjusted based on almost real-time feedback from what is most certainly Microsoft’s most successful software beta program yet. The Windows Insider Program has been a huge success for the company, with millions of active users providing feedback on changes, implementations, and bugs. The program has received over 70,000,000 pieces of feedback this year alone, and was a driving factor on many of the changes in this update. 

Let’s dig into what’s new.

Windows 10 Gets Polished
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  • Penti - Wednesday, August 3, 2016 - link

    That's what I read among other things, btw "XAML UI | Converted apps won't have a UWP XAML UI until they are fully ported to UWP." Invalidates some of the statements made on page 6. From what I know only hybrid applications can do a XAML UI with Win32 applications like browsers are allowed to do, since W8. This statement by Microsoft implies you need to manually port the whole app to UWP to use the UWP XAML UI.

    I guess this confusion is Microsoft's fault as they write "At your own pace, you can add UWP features to your app's package, like a XAML user-interface, live tile updates, UWP background tasks, app services, and many more. All of the functionality available to any other UWP app is available to your app." on another page, but statements like "All of the functionality available to any other UWP app is available to your app" are obviously not true either.
  • darckhart - Tuesday, August 2, 2016 - link
    "European Commissioner for Competition Policy Neelie Kroes on Wednesday formally announced a resolution to the Internet Explorer antitrust case against Microsoft. As part of the settlement, Windows PCs sold in the European Economic Area will now present users with a Choice Screen, allowing them to install alternative browsers beyond Internet Explorer."

    sounds the same to me if they bundle cortana. and a large amount of folks were coerced into upgrading to w10, so yea there's that. and of course it's not restricted to pc. any platform running w10.
  • Brett Howse - Tuesday, August 2, 2016 - link

    Times have changed. Windows isn't the monopoly it once was.
  • Gigaplex - Wednesday, August 3, 2016 - link

    If you exclude tablets and other recent portable form factors, Windows is still a monopoly in the conventional PC form factor space.
  • lmcd - Wednesday, August 3, 2016 - link

    Chromebox? Remix OS?
  • leopard_jumps - Wednesday, August 3, 2016 - link

    The Anniversary is more beautiful . Chrome and File Explorer run faster than on the previous build .
  • Token2k8 - Wednesday, August 3, 2016 - link

    I'm going to give it some time and see if it gets better but for now I notice the performance of my Surface Book is starting to choke a bit since I updated earlier today. I have the i5, 8gb, with Nvidia GPU. I notice a lot of delay on the web browser and even doing stuff on the desktop.
  • HollyDOL - Wednesday, August 3, 2016 - link

    So... PIN doesn't work and needs to be removed and added back again. And Aster (multiple users running side-by-side on one computer) doesn't work. The later is no suprise and will get fixed soon. PIN is a shame though.
  • theuglyman0war - Wednesday, August 3, 2016 - link

    What is meant by Windows as a service? How is an operating system a service? And why would I want an operating system to be anything but a transparent home for applications and files that I can organise in directories?
  • Agent Smith - Wednesday, August 3, 2016 - link

    ...all that DirectX 12 goodness and still no Video Wallpaper?

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