Microsoft Windows 10 was released a year ago on July 28th, 2015, and was available as a free upgrade to all its Windows 7 and Windows 8 & 8.1. The free upgrade offer that was available until July 29 at 11:59 p.m. UTC, is ended, making Windows 10 a paid-for product.
From now on, Windows 10 Home is available for $119.99, while the Professional edition is up for grabs for $199.99. Businesses will need to talk to Microsoft about the Enterprise edition as several enterprise features have been removed from the Professional edition, to the chagrin of SMBs everywhere.
Microsoft says that Windows 10 has the same pricing as Windows 8.1 though.
The upgrade was an easy process, that only required users to reserve their free upgraded via Microsoft's upgrade promotion notification "Get Windows 10 (GWX)", which then enabled you to download Windows 10 via WSUS, or an ISO. True to its word, Microsoft has taken off the upgrade nagware from those who don't wish to make the change.
Microsoft on July 29th, confirmed this stating, "that the free offer stops at midnight tonight UTC-10, meaning that people in the UK have until 1059 on Saturday 30 July."
The upgrade was applicable to all upcoming Windows 10 updates including the Anniversary Update, known internally as Redstone (phase one).
However, there is still some solace for those who've not upgraded yet to Windows 10, as they can still get the new operating system free of charge by downloading the version aimed at users with assistive technologies.
Since, users can abuse this method, Microsoft is planning to remove the page to make the upgrade exclusively available through its support services.
A Microsoft Disability Answer Desk tech engineer confirming the exploite says that the number of people calling for support for this version in the last few days has increased significantly just because users need help to download Windows 10, even if no assistive tech is employed.
Another report on the net suggests that the users can still take advantage of the free Windows 10 update using their Windows 7 and Windows 8 & 8.1 product keys.
In a blog post, Ed Bott confirming this key loophole says that he also was able to get Windows 10 for free after July 29 using a never-used Windows 7 Ultimate product key. Last week, Paul Thurrott also noted that he still was able to get Windows 10 for free using an existing product key.
When Microsoft was asked about why the Windows 10 free upgrade has not ended completely, it stated "Users upgrading their PC for the first time will need to enter a Windows 10 product key. Users who've previously installed Windows 10 on their PC should activate successfully with a digital entitlement when reinstalling Windows 10 on that PC."
Further, Microsoft declined to answer, when asked "when and whether the company planned to cease allowing old keys to unlock the free upgrade to Windows 10 offer."
Bottom line is, it would take some time to phase out completely the Get Windows 10 app.
With over 350 million devices running Windows 10, Microsoft is now betting big on the new Anniversary Update Redstone 1607 Build 14393 available worldwide since Tuesday 2 August.
The company notes "the Windows 10 Anniversary Update is our most reliable update yet," and that they've made significant improvements since November update, for example, "we are seeing an average 20% improved boot speed." "And your battery will last even longer as we've made more than 150 improvements in battery life functionality," the company added.
Redstone is the evolution of the old Service Packs to reflect the new Windows as a Service. It will be followed by a two more Redstone updates early next year, after which, Microsoft is expected to drop the "10" in favour of simply "Windows".
Microsoft is planning to return to a twice-a-year update cadence for Windows 10 in 2017, in a blog post, the company has confirmed these plans stating, "Windows 10, version 1607 is our third Windows 10 feature update released. Based on feedback from organizations moving to Windows 10, this will be our last feature update for 2016, with two additional feature updates expected in 2017."
Additionally, Microsoft will be releasing additional updates and fixes to build 14393 like the recent KB3176925 which bumped the build number slightly from 14393 to 14393.3.
And, Windows 10 cumulative update KB3176929, bumps the build to 14393.10, fixes an issue that prevents changing orientation when attaching a keyboard dock and addresses problems caused by Connected Standby and impacting scheduled update scans getting delayed for no clear reason.
It also improves the reliability of background tasks and extensions for Microsoft Edge.
Microsoft is currently in the midst of Redstone 2 development, which will followed by Redstone 3. Users of have enrolled to Windows Insider, after August 2nd will begin to receive Redstone 2 builds.
"Windows Insiders will have the Anniversary Update on August 2nd, no further action will be required. We expect the build number to not change; however, additional updates and fixes are likely for both OS and Apps. After August 2nd, Windows Insiders will continue to receive new builds related to their choice of fast or slow rings," a company spokesperson stated.
As usual, the Anniversary Update is being shipped via Windows Update, and stand-alone ISO as well.
With WSUS, the download is pushed automatically, this means that user input is not necessary, and once downloaded, the installation of the Anniversary Update will start at the next reboot. But with Windows Update, your only option is to wait. as the release of the new version will take place in stages, so it could take a while until everyone receives it.
But, the WSUS updation encountered issues this time, users in the Microsoft's Community forums, complain that installing the Windows 10 Anniversary Update fails with various errors, and codes 0x80070057 and 0xa0000400 seem to be more common.
"Windows Update does not download Win 10 Anniversary Edition. When using ‘Learn More' within Update module the Windows 10 Upgrade Assistant downloads, but through the process I get above error code. Also I am using Windows 10 Education edition, if that matters," a user describes his problem.
For some the upgrade installer stucks at 99 percent. Here is what the company said on the issue:
We are aware that a set of users are reporting a slow or seemingly-stuck upgrade experience when attempting to upgrade to Windows 10 or update between versions of Windows 10. The upgrade process usually takes 90 minutes or less to complete, but there is a very small subset of PCs, usually older or slower devices, where the upgrade process can take longer than typical. This situation is not related to a specific upgrade tool and has been shown to happen with Windows 10 Upgrade Assistant, Media Creation Tool, USB media, and ISO media.
In these cases, even if the progress percentage appears stuck, the upgrade is still running. An error message should be displayed in case of actual failure. Cancelling and trying alternate methods is unlikely to improve the experience and will reset any upgrade progress made.
The only way to successfully install the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, via Media Creation Tool, that will help you easily download your system specific ISO and create a bootable disc or USB drive. This media can then be used to clean-install the operating system and start from scratch.
The tool guides you throughout the installation process, with detailed information is displayed on the screen before each step.
Another issue that some users are reporting involving of settings are automatically reset to default during the update.
Microsoft in a statement confirmed the issue, "We are aware of an issue that could reset a few of your personalized settings choices to their defaults. The team is working hard to fix this as soon as possible so that future updates will not cause these settings to revert to the defaults. If you've already updated to version 1607, here are some of the settings that may have been reset. Please go to the Settings app to re-personalize any of these settings if any have changed."
Further more, Microsoft's Edge is also roll back to default settings.
Other than that, the Anniversary Update seems to be quite smooth, but we'll keep an eye on all reports and will post updates whenever we come across something new.
The Redstone Anniversary Update adds a whole bunch of new functionality including Windows Ink, allowing direct annotation on the screen using a stylus, improvements to Cortana, the new Start menu, the revamped Action Center or support for browser extensions in Microsoft Edge, and a new batch of games using DirectX 12, one of which is racing game Forza Motorsport 6: Apex which will be free to all upgrades.
Apart from these change, one of the unexpected changes were also introduced, that cuts the rollback period of 30 days to just 10 days.
Microsoft in a statement confirmed this change "Based on our user research, we noticed most users who choose to go back to a previous version of Windows do it within the first several days. As such, we changed the setting to 10 days to free storage space used by previous copies," a company spokesperson is quoted as saying.
What if you have decided to keep the Redstone, here is how to reclaim lost space after installing the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, open "This PC" and right-click the C: drive to open the "Properties" screen. Then Disk Cleanup > Clean up system files (admin rights needed) > Previous Windows installations.
Also, you can now attach your free Windows 10 digital license to your Microsoft account (MSA) that helps reactivating your PC later in the future.
To sign up for an MSA, follow the steps under:
- Create a account at Microsoft account sign-up page.
- In the User name box enter your existing email address, or tap or click Get a new email address to create an Outlook or Hotmail address.
- Complete by filling the form, then click on Create account.
Next, sign in to your Windows 10 PC with your MSA. You'll be then prompted to set up a PIN for your MSA, that can be used as an alternative to sign-in with your password. You can skip this step, should you want.
Once you added and signed into with your MSA (with or without PIN), you should then, go to Settings -> Update & security -> Activation.
A following message is displayed "Windows 10 is activated with a digital license linked to your Microsoft account."
Next time, when you want to restore, just sign-in with your Microsoft account, and your Windows will be activated with the Windows 10 digital license.
The new Office Online extension is now available on Anniversary Update. "We want to bring Office to you wherever you are. The same award-winning Office Online extension available on Chrome is now available for Microsoft Edge. The extension puts an Office icon on the Microsoft Edge toolbar to give you direct access to your Office files, whether they are stored online or on your computer, thanks to integration with OneDrive and OneDrive for Business," Microsoft informed.
Additionally, today, a selection of other popular extensions is available from the Windows Store, including AdBlock and Adblock Plus, Amazon, Evernote, LastPass, Microsoft Translate, Office Online, Pinterest, Pocket and more.
Micorosoft notes, that they've also built an all-new accessibility architecture for rendering engine, so developers can build more accessible user experiences powered by HTML5. Also, the Anniversary Update is more efficient when you have tabs open in the background, with savings of up to 90% in some cases.
"Microsoft Edge will also now pause non-essential Flash content like advertisements until you click to play, which saves power and improves performance. We've also isolated Flash from your page content, so if Flash consumes too many resources or crashes, Windows can stop it without impacting the rest of the website," explains the company..
Also a significant update EdgeHTML 14, is added to Microsoft Edge web platform. Developers can start testing EdgeHTML 14 by updating their Windows 10 device or downloading a free virtual machine from Microsoft Edge Dev.
"EdgeHTML 14 raises the bar across every component of the browser, introducing a new extension platform, a class-leading focus on accessibility and inclusive design, and doubling down on fundamentals like efficiency, security and performance. It also represents another leap forward in compatibility and interoperability with the modern web, making it more painless than ever for developers to code and test for Windows customers," explains Microsoft.
Other than, the improvements in Microsoft Edge, the Redmond software giant has announced a USD1500 bounty to anyone who finds Remote Code Execution vulnerabilities in Microsoft Edge on Windows Insider Preview builds.
"This bounty continues our partnership with the security research community in working to secure our platforms, in pre-release stages of the development process. The Windows Insider program is built to help shape the future of Windows, and represents the latest in features, including new security features and mitigations," Microsoft says.
Cortana, productive personal digital assistant also becomes available on Xbox, and it lets you perform a wide array of activities and even turn on the console by saying "Hey Cortana, Xbox On." Additionally, it's now even more better "with access above the lock screen, more ways to remember with the ability for Cortana to save and recall information, and synchronization across devices."
Skype Preview has now been redesigned and come installed automatically with the Anniversary Update. With the new Skype, you'll be able to use all your favorite Skype features: talk over 1:1 and group video calls, say hello with 1:1 and group chats, call mobiles and landlines at low rates, share photos, share files, use emoticons, and add Mojis.
Starbucks app for Windows 10 Mobile is available today in the Windows Store for customers in the U.S., UK and Canada.
Another app added in the Windows Store called "Microsoft Edge Extension Toolkit," lets developers to quickly convert Google Chrome extensions to Microsoft Edge.
New Microsoft Translator Edge extension, that's avialable today lets you translate webpages in 50 or more languages straight from Edge with a simple click. Additionally, you can copy text from within the browser and right click it to receive short passage translations.
For an overview of new features that are rolling out in the Anniversary Update, check out the video below, from the Redmond company launching a new weekly series called "This Week on Windows", where they'll bring latest in Windows news, apps, and tips from experts at Microsoft. The first video overviews the improvements included in the Anniversary Update, such as Windows Ink, Cortana, and more.
Microsoft has also released a series of videos where Chaitanya Sareen walked users through a myriad of new items in Windows 10.
The gaming side of Windows 10 is also being improved significantly, and most of the new features bring together the PC and the Xbox for a unified experience for gamers. Microsoft notes that "more than 19 billion hours of gameplay were logged on Windows 10 in year one and games were the top app download category in the Windows Store."
That's everything from PCs like laptops and desktops, tablets of all sizes, Surface and hybrids, phones, Xbox One consoles, and even HoloLens development kits.
The Xbox Play Anywhere tool makes it possible to play a game on Xbox and PC with shared progress, game saves, and achievements, so you can start playing on one device and continue from where you left off on another. "It's not just the Windows Store that's seeing a boon from gaming on Windows 10. Players on Steam are have adopted Windows 10 as their most used operating system, reaching 44.46 percent usage," the company says.
The Anniversary Update also brings new improvements to Windows Hello, that allow customers sign in with enterprise-grade security, password-free, to apps, and access supporting websites with biometric authentication using Microsoft Edge.
And Windows Defender, improvments include the option to automatically schedule periodic quick scans of a PC, and provide notifications and summaries when scans are complete and if scans find any threats.
Microsoft also added two new security benefits for enterprise customers:
"Windows Information Protection, formerly enterprise data protection, helps protect businesses from accidental data leaks by separating personal and organizational data, protecting corporate data wherever it goes.
Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection is designed to detect, investigate and respond to malicious attacks and is informed by the world's largest array of sensors and expert advanced threat protection, including a team of expert security researchers at Microsoft," explains company.
Finally, Windows 10 Anniversary Update SDK, build 14393 along with Visual Studio 2015 Update 3 is released. The 'new SDK contains more than 2700 enhancements to the Universal Windows Platform allowing you to take advantage of our fastest growing OS ever and gives you access to the latest innovations in Windows 10 which are now available in the Anniversary Update,' the company informs.
Update 8/11/2016: Microsoft has published a number of documents outlining how the Anniversary Update further improves Windows 10 accessibility.
Here's a list of the accessibility documents: