Microsoft offers glimpse into Windows 10 update

‘Anniversar­y’ edition will improve Cortana, security and more

- Edward C. Baig @edbaig USA TODAY

The first anniversar­y of the Windows 10 launch is still about a month away. But Microsoft executive Yusuf Mehdi announced Wenesday in a blog post that the next major iteration of the company’s operating system — dubbed the Windows 10 Anniversar­y Update — will become available on Aug. 2.

Microsoft is encouragin­g folks to request it in advance.

Indeed, ahead of July 29, the one-year anniversar­y launch date, anyone running Windows 7 or 8.1 on a PC can now request the upgrade to Windows 10 for free, after which Windows 10 will cost $119. Either way, you’ll still have to wait until Aug. 2 to get the Anniversar­y update.

Mehdi says that more than 350 million devices are currently running Windows 10 worldwide, with customer-satisfacti­on levels higher than any previous version. Engagement has also been at an all-time high. Since launch, Windows 10 has been used more than 135 billion hours.

Here’s some of what Microsoft is promising in the update:

Better security. According to Microsoft, there are 250 million online threats posed on any given day. While Microsoft will tell you that Windows 10 is already the most secure version of Windows ever, the company is beefing up security in the update just the same. One way is through Windows Hello, which (with proper hardware) will enable you to use biometrics measures, such as facial recognitio­n, in lieu of passwords to authentica­te your identity. You’ll be able to use Windows Hello with companion devices to unlock your PC as well. According to Mehdi’s post, more than 90% of people have abandoned websites instead of locating a forgotten password.

Microsoft also says it has improved Windows Defender, its anti-malware software.

And the company has bolstered tools for enterprise security, with current cyberattac­ks costing organizati­ons $12 million per incident on average. The claim for a new security feature for enterprise called Windows Defender Advanced Protection is more comprehens­ive threat intelligen­ce and advanced detection.

A separate feature, Windows Informatio­n Protection, aims to plug data leaks by letting businesses segregate personal and organizati­onal data. Advanced Inking features. Though you’ll need hard- ware that supports the use of a digital stylus, the Anniversar­y edition of Windows is said to improve the experience of writing with such a digital instrument. The so-called Windows Ink workspace is a canvas for everything ink-related. Digital ink features include sticky notes, a whiteboard doodling area and a quick link to the Windows Store for ink-powered apps, several from

third-party developers. A smarter Cortana. Microsoft’s vocal digital assistant is now available, at least for certain tasks, on the lock screen. Cortana can handle questions, play music and/or set a reminder without you having to separately log into your computer. And Microsoft says Cortana can retain such informatio­n as your frequent-flier number or where you parked at the airport. A more power-efficient Edge browser. Microsoft claims that Edge will sap less power. You’ll also be able to personaliz­e the browser with “extensions” such as Pinterest’s “Pin It Button” and Amazon Assistant. These and others will be available in the Windows Store.

Goodies for gamers. According to Microsoft, 9 billion hours have been devoted to gameplay on Windows 10 devices. With the Anniversar­y update and the Xbox Play Anywhere program, you can buy a game one time and then freely play it on your Windows 10 PC and Xbox One, sharing saved games and achievemen­ts across the devices. On Xbox One, you’ll be able to summon Cortana help you find new games.


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