Microsoft has moved away from update branding like Service Packs and has decided it has to call them something — in this case, the Anniversary Update. The annual Build developer conference is this week, and Microsoft has a number of significant updates planned for Windows 10’s first anniversary.
Windows 10 now has 270 million users, which makes it the fastest-adopted operating system Microsoft has ever shipped. Adoption is outpacing even Windows 7 by 145%, though Microsoft isn’t on-pace to achieve its one billion target goal within two years at the moment. The only way to acheive that would be if corporations start shifting to Windows 10 in large numbers, or if consumers finally begin purchasing replacement PCs. How much they can depend on either trend is unclear.
One of the major changes coming to the Windows 10 platform doesn’t involve the PC at all, but the Xbox One. Microsoft already allows for game streaming between an Xbox One and a Windows 10 PC, but that compatibility is expanding significantly with the Anniversary Update. Post-update, the Xbox One will be able to run any Windows 10 Universal Application.
The Anniversary Update will allow gamers to actually disable V-Sync and will improve support for multi-GPU configurations. Other issues, like the complete lack of modding support or any kind of editable INI configuration, are not addressed in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update — at least, not yet. The company will have to work to rehabilitate its image after recent launches mostly flopped.
Cortana will also be coming to the Xbox One. Microsoft seems to think this will be a major appeal for the platform; the Windows Store is getting a new section devoted to applications that integrate Cortana.
For a company whose former CEO once famously declared that “Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches,” Microsoft’s about-face on Linux has been nothing short of astonishing. Project Astoria, the plan to run Android applications on Windows Mobile devices, may be dead, but Microsoft isn’t abandoning its plans to drive closer relationships between Linux developers and Windows users. Windows 10’s Anniversary Update “will include the ability to run the popular bash shell from Unix, along with the rest of a typical Unix command-line environment,” Ars Technica reports.
Microsoft is teaming up with Canonical to provide a system image with Windows-compatible versions of the command-line tools used for Ubuntu development. I’m not sure I understand what the proposed value proposition is here — it made sense for Microsoft to consider developing a compatibility layer that would allow Android code to run on Windows 10 Mobile, due to the vast difference between their respective user bases. I’m not sure why it makes sense to integrate a Linux bash shell into Windows 10, or which developers Microsoft intends to court with this maneuver. Programmers, feel free to weigh in.
Other significant updates include the use of biometric authentication for websites (at least when using Microsoft Edge) and increased stylus support for Windows 10 devices that use one.