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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  • GTVic - Friday, August 5, 2016 - link

    It does zoom in a bit and the image seems to get darker. I don't see the point of that. Reply
  • DParadoxx - Tuesday, August 2, 2016 - link

    Seriously. I expected a whole page on things that have gotten worse. Reply
  • cpy - Wednesday, August 3, 2016 - link

    Don't worry, you'll get more than one page of bad things once the real thing hits world. Reply
  • theNiZer - Tuesday, August 2, 2016 - link

    Hi Brett, thank you for also highlighting the improvements for Windows 10 Mobile that this update brings. Though I understand your point on UWA (Universal Windows Apps), I hope it will not turn out this way for the Mobile OS: "They’ve transitioned there to providing apps and services, but Windows 10 Mobile is now pretty good at a time where it’s unlikely most people will ever use it."
    I actually like the productivity that my Lumia 950 offers.
    Reply
  • theNiZer - Tuesday, August 2, 2016 - link

    Sorry, I meant Universal Windows Platform (UWP). Reply
  • prophet001 - Tuesday, August 2, 2016 - link

    If it's the same OS as people are using on their other computers then I can surely see a shift towards it provided there is attractive hardware to run it on. Reply
  • Alexvrb - Wednesday, August 3, 2016 - link

    Well one nice thing about UWP is that developers can reuse their code and have it run on all Win10 devices, mobile included. So app selection should continue to improve as Win10 improves and more systems run it. But we need to see more devices on carriers... Verizon is practically a wasteland. At least if you're not on Verizon (and probably Sprint) you can buy something amazing like an HP Elite X3. Hopefully HP will release a variant that supports Verizon (and vice versa, a device Verizon isn't adamantly opposed to having on their network). But that won't happen in the short term, I would bet. Reply
  • cknobman - Tuesday, August 2, 2016 - link

    Its pretty cool how the UWA approach is coming along.
    I absolutely love using my 950xl with continuum.

    Microsoft is thinking big picture here and while they are likely to never get a hold on the consumer market I believe the UWA will help them get a strong foothold in the business market.

    Office 365 and UWA are already having a impact on my company.
    Reply
  • tipoo - Tuesday, August 2, 2016 - link

    Nice timely overview!

    Edge seems *almost* usable to me now, extensions are a huge boon and the GPU accelerated smooth scrolling is some of the best I've seen on a Windows device (if your trackpad allows).

    A few things still seem like leftovers from the dark ages - see the mouse speed dialog, you'll always find some areas of Windows that have never been updated to modern designs.
    Reply
  • Michael Bay - Tuesday, August 2, 2016 - link

    Font viewer file opening dialog is said to be from 3.1. Dark ages indeed. Reply

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