The latest Windows 10 update (Version 1607), aka the Anniversary Update, was released on August 2, 2016. It’s in the Current Branch (CB) release process now and will be in the Current Branch for Business (CBB) near the end of 2016. Like other major Windows 10 updates, this is more of a Windows upgrade, for instance it creates an Windows.old directory on the root drive, unlike the Service Packs of pervious Windows versions.
Though this update isn’t as big of a jump from Windows 8 to 10, there are numerous new features and changes. Here I discuss and show many of these, which might interest you as being an IT and networking professional.
Start menu redesigned and streamlined
The Start menu once again is changed. It contains the same functionality, but it’s GUI is streamlined. Instead of seeing the text labels for Documents, File Explorer, Settings, and Power, you just see their icons on the left-hand side. Instead of having to hit All Apps, you now see the app list right away with recently added, most used, and suggested apps up on top. Then there’s a full alphabetized list of all your apps below that. The live tiles still remain on the right-side of the start menu.
Extension support added for Microsoft Edge
Finally, the Microsoft Edge browser gets support for third-party extensions. As of now you’ll see about a dozen extensions available via the Store, which includes AdBlock, LastPass, Evernote, and a Translator. So if the lack of these add-ons were holding you back, perhaps now give Edge a try. Microsoft touts that it’s the most energy efficient browser, promising longer battery-life on mobile devices. If you still require Internet Explorer, don’t worry, it’s still available.
Improved GUI and functionality of the Settings app
After browsing around the Settings app, you’ll find some new settings and functionality along with some reorganization of the menus and settings. After opening the Network & Internet settings, you’re now greeted with a Status page, which includes shortcuts to additional settings in the traditional GUIs.
The new View your network properties shortcut conveniently shows you a list of all the main details for each network adapter, including IP, DNS, and MAC addresses. The new Network reset shortcut allows you to quickly reinstall all the network adapters and reset other related components back to factory defaults.
After clicking on the Wi-Fi menu, you’ll find it’s been reorganized. The Wi-Fi Sense and hotspot settings are now on the main Wi-Fi page, with the addition of a setting for Hotspot 2.0 networks and the elimination of the Wi-Fi password sharing functionality of the Wi-Fi Sense feature. Also new is a Hardware properties shortcut, which shows you similar details as the properties page of all adapters but this shortcut shows you further wireless details: the network band (2.4 or 5GHz) and network channel. These are two simple pieces of information, but can be really convenient when troubleshooting wireless issues.
Mobile Wi-Fi hotspot feature added
Another new feature you’ll find in the Network & Internet area of the Settings app is Mobile Hotspot. It allows you to quickly create a virtual Wi-Fi network in order to share your Internet connection. It appears similar to the wireless hosted network functionality included in previous Windows versions, but looks like it’s implemented in a different way. You can optionally preconfigure the mobile hotspot settings, or simply turn on to use the default SSID and password. You can also remotely turn on via another Bluetooth device.
New update settings allow you to avoid delays during work times
The timing of Windows updates has always been an issue and even more of a concern with Windows 10 since updates by default are all automatic unless a management platform like Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) or System Center Configuration Manager is utilized. For Windows 10 Pro users, there was already the defer updates option, which delays updates for about four months by putting the PC into the Current Branch for Business (CBB) queue.
Now there’s also three new settings to further help ensure Windows 10 updates don’t interfere with work times, which can be useful for standalone workstations and domain-joined PCs. First, you can now define your Active Hours, the time period in which you normally use the PC, so updates won’t apply during that time period. Secondly, you can now define a custom restart time so any pending updates can finish installing during off-hours. Lastly, you can now allow Windows to automatically sign-in after a reboot so updates can finish fully installing.
WIP provides more control over business data
Formerly known as enterprise data protection (EDP), Windows Information Protection (WIP), adds security mechanisms in Windows to help control and protect corporate data. They can help distinguish between the personal and business information on user devices and provides tools to control which apps have access to the business information and what users are able to do with that information. For instance, administrators could impose restrictions on copy and paste, printing, and email forwarding.
The WIP features are designed specifically to work with the Office 365 ProPlus and Azure Rights Management platforms and can be turned on and managed via platforms like Microsoft Intune or System Center Configuration Manager.
Shared PC mode allows secure computer access by third-parties
This new shared PC mode optimizes the settings and configuration of Windows 10 for semi-public shared use situations, such temporary customer or contractor use. It’s basically a looser version of the assigned access functionality, which is still present in Windows 10.
When in the shared PC mode, it’s not recommend to have local admin user accounts on the computer. Third-party users, like clients or contractors, can get non-admin computer access by using the start without an account option on the sign-in screen, which doesn't require any user credentials or authentication and creates a new local account that’s automatically deleted when signing off.
Additionality, any Azure AD or Active Directory user can sign-in as a standard user when a computer is in the shared PC mode. The user who originally joined the PC to the domain, and possibly other admin users in the directory, will have administrative rights when they sign in. These directory-based accounts are cached locally by default until they exceed the allotted disk space limit.
There are many more new and improved features and functionality
I discussed some of the most noticeable and noteworthy improved features in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update: the redesigned start menu, extension support in Edge, additions in the Settings app, and improved data protection. I also discussed some of the brand new features: the Wi-Fi mobile hotspot, the shared PC mode, and the timing and auto restart/sign-in controls for Windows Updates.
There are still many other new and improved features that I didn’t discuss for you to discover, such as improvements to the Windows provisioning process, Cortana enchantments, resigned Windows Hello for Business, added taskbar management, further security advances with Windows Defender, and additional native mobile device management (MDM) capabilities.
Now perhaps check out an updated Windows 10 machine and play with these features yourself. If the update hasn’t applied yet, you can always download and install manually.