Microsoft today released the first major update to Windows 10 on PCs and tablets. At the same time, Microsoft says the update means the company “can confidently recommend Windows 10 deployment to whole organizations.”
Windows 10 users will receive the November update, as Microsoft is calling this release, according to their Windows Update settings. Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users who want to use the free upgrade offer will be able to get Windows 10 with the November update already applied.
Windows 10 is a service. As we wrote in our deep dive on how Microsoft built, and is still building, Windows 10, this means that despite its launch in July, it’s still getting new features and improvements.
All the improvements, which Microsoft says reach “all aspects of the platform and experience,” have already been seen by Windows Insiders in preview builds — indeed the November update is really just Windows 10 build 10586. Here’s the rundown.
Performance in everyday tasks has improved. Boot time in particular is now nearly 30 percent faster than for Windows 7 on the same device, Microsoft claims.
Mail, Calendar, Photos, Groove, Xbox, Windows Store, OneNote, and even Solitaire have all gained improvements. But the biggest additions are to Microsoft’s most important apps in Windows 10: Cortana and Microsoft Edge.
Cortana now supports pen input, and is able to recognize phone numbers, email addresses, and even physical addresses to help you set reminders. The digital assistant can also now keep track of your event and movie bookings, plus let you book an Uber. Last, but not least, Cortana is now available in Japan, Australia, Canada, and India (in English).
Edge has gained performance and security improvements. It also now has a tab preview feature, which allows you to hover over your tabs and see what is open on each without leaving the page you’re on. Microsoft Edge now syncs your Favorites and Reading list items across devices, while Cortana can now notify you of available coupons while you browse shopping sites in Edge. Extension support, however, has been delayed until 2016.
Microsoft is also including the consumer preview of its Skype integration. Skype video calling and messaging features (1:1 messaging, calling, and emoticons) are now built into native Windows 10 apps. Microsoft didn’t say when the integration would come out of preview.
Windows Update for Business lets IT departments control the deployment of updates within their organizations. It’s possible to set up device groups with staggered deployments and scale deployments with network optimizations.
Windows Store for Business lets IT departments find, acquire, manage, and distribute apps to Windows 10 devices by directly assigning apps, publishing apps to a private store, or connecting with management solutions. That includes apps in the Windows Store as well as custom business apps. Organizations can choose their preferred distribution method.
IT departments can now also use new Mobile Device Management features to manage the entire family of Windows devices, including PCs, tablets, phones, and IOT. Additionally, the new Azure Active Directory Join lets IT departments maintain one directory so employees can have a single login and securely roam their Windows settings and data across all of their Windows 10 devices.
In addition to all of the above, Microsoft says “thousands of partners” have updated their device drivers and applications for great Windows 10 compatibility. Last night, the new Xbox One experience started rolling out, which includes Windows 10. All that is left is Windows 10 Mobile: Microsoft plans to launch the first Windows 10 phones this month and to roll out Windows 10 Mobile to existing Windows Phone users in December.