It seems as though Microsoft has been talking about its plans to release a major overhaul of Windows 10 in time for the operating system's first birthday since its original release in July 2015.
People in the company's Insiders Program have been getting periodic looks at planned features, and news stories about the update have been regularly published for months. But now PC owners are actually able to update their computers with the real thing.
Microsoft is providing the Anniversary Update as part of the normal Windows Update process, which means that many Windows 10 computers will get the new version over the course of the next few weeks.
However, it's also available on demand for those who want to start using the Anniversary Update immediately. Consider doing this before Microsoft starts running automatic update for your organization's computers, because the new version is likely to cause some support concerns.
First things first: The Windows 10 Anniversary Update shows dramatic performance improvements to the point that it may catch you by surprise. I updated the Windows 10 installation on an HP Z620 dual-processor workstation and changed what had been a slightly pokey machine into one that's vastly faster. In fact, turning the scroll wheel on the mouse made pages fly by so fast that I had to force myself to go back and try again.
But it's more than just the scroll wheel. Other operations are also much faster, whether they are actions performed in Microsoft Office 2016 or pages loading in Google Chrome.
But as nice as the speed increase may be, there are more important changes in the new version. For example, there are a series of new features for IT professionals working in enterprises, including Windows Information Protection, which protects your company's information when it's on employees' personal mobile devices.
Also, provisioning is simplified to create and install standard Windows images. Windows Hello for Business is improved and with it a variety of identity verification methods, including fingerprints and photos. Hello for Business can be provisioned by a group policy or a mobile device management (MDM) policy. Meanwhile, MDM capabilities have been expanded.
Microsoft has improved the Windows Defender security application and added advanced threat protection, which includes behavioral sensors, cloud security analytics and threat intelligence. In addition, there's now a rich timeline for forensic investigation and mitigation, which is intended to significantly improve recovery from a breach and for deep-threat data collection and analysis.
Perhaps the most important feature for developers in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update is the addition of the complete Bash shell, which allows you to run the Bash commands and scripts used in Ubuntu Linux.
Microsoft worked with Canonical, developers of Ubuntu, to develop the shell. And yes, when you type in "ls" you get the same type of directory display you'd see using Linux.