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Five things your business needs to know about the Windows 10 anniversary update: Cortana, Ink, security and future update cycle

By Scott Carey | Aug. 4, 2016
The main features for consumer and IT teams to look out for in the Windows 10 anniversary update

The anniversary update of Windows 10 is focused around three key areas: for the consumer there is greater Ink and Cortana capabilities, and for IT teams security is being positioned as the primary reason to upgrade your enterprise operating system.

Here are five things you need to know about the feature update.

1. You can't turn Cortana off

Cortana, as well as being a virtual assistant also now forms the "core search" of the Windows 10 operating system, according to Rob Epstein, Microsoft UK Windows marketing lead.

Following Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's soundbite from Build 2016 that "bots are the new apps" the Microsoft personal assistant Cortana is at the centre of the Windows 10 anniversary update. What this means is a move towards more natural language interaction with Windows. Instead of using the start menu or interacting with individual apps, Cortana can traverse systems to help you get things done.

Naturally users will get as much out of Cortana as they are willing to give away. So if you open up all of your apps and information for Cortana to access it will get a better feel for your preferences and habits and get smarter with time. So even though Cortana can no longer be "turned off" once you upgrade you can lower its visibility by logging out and refusing to feed it personal information, reducing it to a simple search engine rather than a personal assistant.

Epstein ran a few use cases past us during a demo this week, including integrations with Just Eat and Uber and personalised news delivery around topics and teams you follow (technology, Manchester United). Epstein says there are currently over 1,000 apps that support Cortana integration.

Windows 10 is fully committed to being cross device, so if you miss a call on your phone you will get a notification on your desktop, and you can ask Cortana on your desktop to send an SMS saying you are running late, for example.

The factor I can't see taking off in the modern office yet is the use of voice prompts. During my demo Epstein used voice to make all of these requests to Cortana (text my wife, order me an Uber, move a meeting) but to do this in a busy office environment, or even when working from home, will require a drastic change in user behaviour.

2. Security has been beefed up

"One of the biggest reasons we are finding that businesses want to move to 10 is because of security," Epstein says. "If you think about Windows 7 it was designed 10 years ago and while everyone is doing a good job of patching and updating the reality is the security landscape and threat landscape has changed enormously in that time."


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