Windows 10: Microsoft releases 1st major update

Microsoft has released its first major update for Windows 10 PCs and tablets.

It also launched a Windows 10-powered update for its Xbox One gaming console that lets users play many of their Xbox 360 games on the newer console.

And its Cortana virtual assistant finally arrives in Canada – in English only.

A “test mode” of Cortana, a Siri-like, voice-recognizing assistant for both PCs and mobile devices, had previously been available in Canada, Australia and India. Today, a full version with “features and experiences customized for each market” launched in all three countries, along with Japan. The app provides reminders about appointments and aims to serve up helpful information such as weather updates.

Windows 10, Microsoft’s latest operating system version, was released as a free update to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users in July. The company aims to have Windows 10 installed on a billion devices within the next three years. By the end of October, it was installed on 110 million.

In a blog post, Terry Myerson, executive vice-president of the Windows and Devices group, called the new Windows 10 update for PCs and tablets a “milestone.”

“With this free update, we have reached the point in the platform’s maturity where we can confidently recommend Windows 10 deployment to whole organizations,” he wrote.

He added that Windows 10 now boots up nearly 30 per cent faster than Windows 7 on the same device, but did not indicate how much faster the update made Windows 10.

The update includes:

A new “tab preview” feature for the Microsoft Edge browser that lets you hover over open tabs to see what’s on those pages without leaving the page you’re already on, as well as browser performance and security improvements.

Unspecified improvements to Mail, Calendar, Photos, Groove, OneNote and Solitaire.

New security features.

Several new Cortana features available only in the U.S., such as support for the use of a device’s pen, Uber bookings and coupon notifications.

Businesses targeted

The bulk of the update targets business users specifically, including:

Windows Update for Business, which lets IT departments control how updates are deployed across devices in their organizations.

Windows Store for Business, which helps IT departments find, acquire, manage and distribute apps for Windows 10 devices.

Mobile Device management, which lets IT departments manage devices ranging from PCs to phones, including devices that are brought by employees themselves rather than supplied by the business.

Azure Active Directory Join, which lets people use a single login across Windows 10 devices.

Xbox One updates

Mike Ybarra, director of program management for Xbox, wrote in a blog post that the Xbox One Experience update for Microsoft’s gaming console:

Lets users play many games they purchased for their last console, the Xbox 360, on the Xbox One if the game is among those on Microsoft’s list of backward-compatible games. Users can either insert the game disc and download it, or install the digital version from their ready-to-install queue. For a limited time, they will also have access to multiplayer benefits without the Xbox Live Gold subscription that is usually required.

Provides a redesigned home screen and a new “community” section that highlights social activities such as which friends are playing the same games as you.

Revamps OneGuide to help users find TV, movies and video.

Adds avatars, game hubs, the ability to remap buttons on any controller, and new navigation modes such as a “narrator” that reads text on the screen aloud.

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