Windows 10 Anniversary Update: What You Need To Know

Getty Image/Microsoft

Today is the day Microsoft has been building up to for months: The Windows 10 Anniversary Update. Starting today, Microsoft will be rolling out an update that piles on dozens of tweaks and major changes to the software. Here’s what you should keep an eye out for, and what to try once the update appears.


Cortana, named after the artificial intelligence Master Chief pals around with in the Halo franchise, is already on Windows 10; it’s essentially Siri for your desktop. The Anniversary Update, however, will enable Cortana to do a lot more. You can use it to perform simple tasks from the lock screen, ask it to remember key information like flight numbers and appointments, and have it push notifications from your phone to your desktop, provided you install the Cortana app.

Microsoft Edge

Microsoft’s replacement for Internet Explorer is getting a much needed overhaul in the Anniversary Update. Edge will be getting extensions — finally — and it’s been tweaked to save even more power. There’s also a litany of under-the-hood improvements and subtle updates, including a setting that wipes your cache whenever you close the browser, making Edge more stable. In addition, Edge will get your web notifications in the Action Center, letting you stay on top of Twitter and Facebook while you work.

Start Menu

The Start Menu has undergone some subtle changes worth discussing. For example, all the power-related stuff is now hidden under one button, and instead of seeing a handful of apps, clicking Start will open an alphabetical list of apps and the usual collection of tiles next to them. Settings are also tucked off to the side, making them more accessible. The tiles will also be more intuitive, taking you, say, directly to a game’s home page in the Windows Store, instead of to a website.

Windows Ink

Best described as MS Paint on steroids, Windows Ink is largely for Surface users and those with a drawing tablet, but it’s got some interesting tools handy, including sticky notes, a sketchpad, and handwriting recognition. It can even solve math equations for you, if you write one in. It probably won’t be the most popular change to the system, but it will likely have a cult following and spawn even more MS Paint comics.

Run Ubuntu!

Microsoft and Canonical have taken the somewhat odd step of creating a Bash shell that will basically let you run the Linux-based free operating system Ubuntu inside your Windows without virtualization or emulation — i.e. without your computer basically building a little computer inside of it to run the software. This is mostly for hardcore programmers, although we’ll be curious to see what hackers can do with this. It’s an interesting step, however, and it’s worth being on top of as it might open the door to, say, Microsoft allowing Steam OS or other Linux programs to be run on Windows.

How Do I Install It?

If you’re not automatically prompted to install the Anniversary Update, you can make it happen on your own. Just go to Settings in the Start Menu, click Updates and Security, then Windows Update, and then prompt the system to check for updates. Windows should find the update and download it. Before you do that, though, back up your files and make sure you’ve got 3 GB of space — it’s a hefty update. As for how well it does, we’ll see as it rolls out, but it’ll be fascinating to see what changes.