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Windows 10 Anniversary Update Release Set for August

With one month left before the free Windows 10 upgrade offer expires, Microsoft on Wednesday announced that the next major update to Windows 10 will arrive on Aug. 2.

The Windows 10 "Anniversary Update," which Microsoft first officially described at its Build conference in March, introduces some important new features. Among them are new digital inking capability; improvements to Cortana; extended security capabilities, including Windows Hello support for apps; refinements to the new Edge browser; and the ability to share users' Xbox gaming experiences with their PCs, tablets and phones.

In a blog post announcing the Aug. 2 release date, Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Windows and Devices Group, underscored some key improvements coming to Windows 10, which is now used by 350 million users by Microsoft's count. The first is security. Support for Windows Hello, a feature that aims to replace passwords with biometric authentication, will be extended to companion devices.

The update will also bring improvements to Microsoft's Windows Defender anti-malware service, which will now offer the ability to schedule scans and provide reports notifying users of any threats discovered. Enterprise customers will also get the new Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection feature, which Mehdi said "detects, investigates, and responds to advanced malicious attacks on networks by providing a more comprehensive threat intelligence and attack detection."

Windows 10 users will notice a more prominent Cortana in the Anniversary Update, Mehdi said. In addition to its place in the search menu, Cortana will show up on the lock screen, allowing users to dictate commands or questions without unlocking the system. Cortana will also let users request personal information, such as where they've parked their car or an account number. The digital assistant will also provide notifications across all devices.

Cortana is a key offering for Microsoft, which recently announced its plan to create "intelligent bots" as a service.

The update will also deliver new digital ink capabilities that Microsoft hopes will finally make Windows PCs and tablets appealing mediums for drawing and note-taking. The digital ink feature will make it easy to take notes or annotate images, while the new "Smart Sticky Notes" option will let users create simple reminders. A number of apps, including Office and the Edge browser, support the new inking capability.

"Now, using a Windows 10 device, graphic designers can be more creative, musicians can write digital music, lawyers can edit documents with the power of the pen, and students can do mathematical equations and learn by writing," Mehdi said.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.