Windows 10 'Anniversary Update' Preview Now Available

The recently announced Windows 10 "anniversary update" has been released for early testers.

Microsoft's Build event last week had put the spotlight on this release. It's called the anniversary update since its release will be about a year off from the initial Windows 10 product launch.

The release, known as "build 14316," is just available to Windows Insider program testers who have opted into receiving "fast-ring" early releases. Most Windows Insider participants follow slower Windows 10 release cycles, which deliver previews that have undergone a greater degree of testing. Those testers won't see this release.

Perhaps the most noteworthy feature of this update is support for the Linux Bash shell in Windows. Microsoft is adding it as a way to help developers who rely on open source development tools. The Bash shell isn't just there, though. Windows Insider fast-ring testers have to activate it by turning on a "Developer Mode" in the operating system, according to Microsoft's announcement.

The Windows 10 anniversary update adds a lot of Cortana enhancements. The Cortana service will now tell users when the battery power is low. It can track misplaced phones by sending a ring tone. The Cortana service also can now send map directions to another device for travelers dependent on smart phones, for instance.

Also included with this update is support for a couple of new Microsoft Edge browser extensions. There's a new Pin It Button extension and a OneNote Clipper extension. The Edge browser is just starting to get an extensions capability, which is still at the preview stage.

Microsoft enabled new app support with this Windows 10 build. For instance, there's support for the Skype Universal Windows Platform app preview on PCs (mobile support will follow). There's also support for a Connect app that more easily lets Windows 10 Phone devices connect with PCs. For instance, the Connect app dispenses with the need to use "a dock or Miracast adapter" when using the Windows 10 "Continuum" feature, according to Microsoft's announcement. Continuum is a Windows 10 capability that enables a Window 10 Phone device to use the screen, mouse and keyboard of a Windows 10 PC when plugged in.

Microsoft added some usability improvements in this release. For instance, the Action Center can now be customized to show the notices you want, as well as their frequency. The Virtual Desktop feature now lets users pin a window to a desktop and have it appear across every desktop, if wanted.

Microsoft also improved the battery use settings and options available in Windows 10. For instance, there's a new "Managed by Windows" setting for applications. It will stop application battery drain when a Battery Saver feature is turned on. Users can also specify the hours when they are active on their machines. If that's done, updates won't automatically install during that specified time period.

Microsoft fixed some software flaws with this preview release. However, this release is definitely not for developers that depend on the Visual Studio emulator capability when building Windows 10 applications. They'll get an "authentication error" when using the emulator with this release, Microsoft's announcement cautioned.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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