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Windows 10 Anniversary Update is finally here!

Windows 10 Anniversary Update is finally here!

It feels like forever since we first mentioned that the Windows 10 Anniversary Update was on its way - but it's finally here!

If you've missed our previous coverage, here's a quick recap of the new user-friendly features you're going to love. The update features a number of upgrades to Microsoft's PC software, including selfie login for websites and apps, and an unlocked Cortana.

1. Microsoft Edge

To get more people using its new web browser, Microsoft is also opening support for extensions and improving the tabs. Add-ons already available include LastPass, 1Password and EverNote, and Microsoft is reportedly working on a tool that can convert Chrome extensions to Edge ones.

The update also means Edge syncs with the cloud, works with Cortana and with Hello. Minor new features in the Edge browser, which Microsoft claims is 70 percent more battery efficient than competitors, make it more intuitive, including right-clicking the back button to see the history of pages visited on it and "paste and go" or "paste and search" for copied text. It also has an option to clear all browsing data every time you close Edge.

The Edge browser also includes a number of handy features like Read Mode and Web Note, allowing users to read and interact with web pages in the way they want.

2. Windows Ink extended 

Improving the capabilities of the Microsoft Surface Book's stylus (electronic pen), the Windows 10 anniversary update includes a hub for apps that support ink, including Sticky Notes, Sketchpad and a Screen Sketch, a Snapchat-style app that lets you sketch on a screenshot. It also works with Maps, Microsoft Edge and Office.

Cortana can understand things that you hand write on a sticky note and add them to your Calendar for you. For example, if you wrote "Call Mom tomorrow," Cortana will highlight the word "tomorrow," which you can tap and add to your Calendar.

3. Cortana extended 

In the update to its virtual assistant Cortana, Microsoft has added the ability to call for help without having to log into your device. That means if you're on the opposite side of the room to your computer or have your hands tied, you can ask for help without having to move and unlock the screen.

For example, if you're in the middle of cooking a complicated recipe and can't remember what the next step is, you can call Cortana to read it to you. Call out "Hey Cortana" and it'll light up without you needing to log in, and you can ask what the next step is.

Cortana gains a lot more functionality in Windows 10 as well. It can now speak more languages, including Spanish, Portuguese and French, in addition to the 11, it could already understand. And it can scan your email and calendar to prompt you if you need to do something or organize meetings for you, as well as send text messages to Android and iOS devices.

The upgraded Cortana will prompt you throughout the day with questions such as "What time would you like your alarm?" offering to buy you lunch or send information for you. It can also remember things that aren't time-related, such as "Remember that I parked my car on Church Street." You can then later ask Cortana to remind you where your car is.

Cortana also learns about you over time, such as the music you like and the sports teams you support, and proactively highlights relevant news and information from the web.

4. Password functionality 

Microsoft is expanding Windows Hello, the biometric login that lets you sign into your computer with a selfie or fingerprint scan, to include supporting websites on the Edge browser and some apps. That means no more typing out endless passwords when you want to check your social media accounts and bank balance while doing some online shopping.

5. Improved compatibility throughout devices

A refresh of the Start menu combines the tiles from Windows 8 with the original Start bar that makes for better usability on tablets and means you don't need to go an extra step to see all of the apps on PC.

The new Start menu is also split in two, with a list of commonly used applications and settings on the left-hand side and Windows 8-style "live tiles" on the right, optimized for touch-based computing. There is now a button on the taskbar that gives you a zoomed-out view of all the apps you have running and lets you select the one you want or create multiple virtual desktops.

You can mirror the contents on a phone, tablet or another computer to a PC running Windows 10 using "Project to PC." Windows 10 lets you receive notifications from Windows, Android, and iOS devices straight to  your PC.

How to get these updates

If you upgraded to Windows 10 before the July 29 deadline, these system upgrades will be free. Just look for the prompt for updates, which you should receive automatically. However, if you were unable to update from an older version of Windows, upgrading to Windows 10 will now cost $119. Click here to learn more about why Microsoft has added this charge.

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