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Review: Windows 10 Anniversary Update fails to excite

Woody Leonhard | July 25, 2016
The new upgrade introduces small improvements across the board, but nothing to sway Windows 7 stalwarts

Windows 10 Anniversary Update also includes Windows Information Protection, or what used to be known as Enterprise Data Protection. In a nutshell, Information Protection provides a way to separate personal and corporate data and apply policies (and remote wipe) to the business side.

For more details about the behind-the-scenes changes, see Rob Lefferts' post on the Windows blog titled "Advancing Security for Consumers and Enterprises at Every Layer of the Windows 10 Stack" and ESET engineer Aryeh Goretsky's independent report on Windows 10 security and privacy.

Universal Windows apps

Although Microsoft's Universal Windows Platform apps are updated according to their own schedule and generally not obliged to follow the vagaries of Windows versions, many of the Universal apps that ship with Windows are going through major changes.

On the plus side, Windows Mail has become usable -- an adjective that wouldn't have applied last year. Groove Music and Movies & TV are also improved.

On the minus side, the new Universal OneDrive app shows you only the files on OneDrive that you've synced to your machine; its sole redeeming value may be its finger-friendliness. The Skype Universal app has many of the same reliability problems of its non-Universal brethren.

The story with third-party Universal Windows apps bobs from week to week. Many companies have withdrawn support for Windows Store apps, while others have signed on. Neither Project Centennial (a tool that converts traditional Windows desktop apps into Universal apps) nor Microsoft's acquisition of Xamarin (which makes a toolset for porting iOS and Android apps to the Universal Windows Platform) have begun to fill the gaping hole that is Windows Store.

Other changes

The Win10 Anniversary Update is peppered with all sorts of smaller changes:

  • Windows Update lets you set "active hours," which limit the times that Windows will reboot to install pending changes (Start > Settings > Update & security > Windows Update, Change active hours). Unfortunately, you can black out at most 12 hours in the day.
  • Start fresh, which isn't a Windows feature but a link to a web page, lets you install a clean version of Windows 10 on your system.
  • Bash command line shell for those of you who love Linux.
  • Battery support improves with Cortana-based low-battery notifications and a central Universal Settings location for battery settings.
  • New emojis that should make every texter smile.

Everywhere you look there are cosmetic changes: dark backgrounds, lock screen changes, icons added here and deleted there. In the "duh" category, the sign-on screen no longer shows email addresses, by default.

Some of the old Control Panel settings have been moved to the Universal Settings app. Many are still back where they were in Windows 7.

Looking forward

As of this writing, about a third of a billion machines are running Windows 10. In general, they'll be upgraded to Windows 10 Anniversary Update shortly after Aug. 2. If you have problems, keep your eye on InfoWorld for the latest advice and commiseration.

 

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