During its annual Build developers conference in San Francisco, Microsoft revealed details about the next major upgrade of Windows 10.
That update, previously called Redstone 1, will be called the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. Appropriately, its expected release date is July.
Playing on that theme, I’d not be surprised if Microsoft released Win10 AU on 29 July — exactly one year after Win10’s official debut. Win7 and Win8 users will want to note that this coming July marks the scheduled end of the free Windows 10 upgrade.
At Build 2016 (more info), MS executive vice president of the Windows and Devices Group Terry Myerson claimed 270 million active Win10 users, and he further stated that the eight month-old operating system has had the fastest adoption of any Windows version. (No doubt the free-upgrade promotion helped significantly with that rapid conversion.)
New capabilities coming to Windows 10
During the keynote presentation, Microsoft showed off the following new features, based on Win10 build 14306. (Build 14316 is now available through the Windows Insider Preview program.)
- Windows’ biometric-security app — Hello — will be incorporated into Edge, letting users sign in to Internet-based apps and websites. The Hello enhancement will continue support both facial and fingerprint recognition, depending on the hardware installed on your system.
- Inking is Win10’s handwriting-input system. Win10 AU adds a new desktop sidebar called Ink Workspace that will appear when you click your digital-pen’s button. You’ll also be able to set your preferred actions for quick and easy access.
Previously, inking was limited to Edge windows. But the next version will support the desktop; you could, for example, grab a screenshot of any running application and annotate it with inking — handy for marking up instructional images. And for the first time, you’ll also be able to access the new inking features while your device has its screen lock active.
- Cortana continues to be a work in progress. The next version will let you make any queries, schedule appointments, and create reminders without unlocking your device.
- As was rumored, Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps will arrive, starting with the Xbox One platform. There’ll also be a unified Windows Store experience across Windows and Xbox devices.
Xbox Business head Phil Spencer announced that any retail Xbox One console can now be converted to a developer console through the use of an app and a console reboot. This will reportedly let developers easily prepare their own UWP apps for use on the console. Although not explicitly mentioned during the keynote demos, I expect the updated console will fully support keyboards and mice. (Currently, you can use an USB keyboard only to fill in text boxes.)
Some enhancements to Microsoft’s mobile platform
There was no mention of the Win10 Mobile OS in the Build keynote. I’m not surprised; I’ve been saying for weeks now that the platform is probably in a state of hibernation, waiting for Microsoft to build out the Windows Store with both popular and niche apps based on UWP (read more). Senior Microsoft executives all but confirmed that the mobile platform isn’t their primary focus at this time.