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Review: Windows 10 Anniversary Update fails to excite

Woody Leonhard | July 25, 2016
The new upgrade introduces small improvements across the board, but nothing to sway Windows 7 stalwarts

Cortana can now run "on the lock screen," which means it's running all the time, listening to what you say whether you're logged on to the computer or not. Further, the old Cortana Reminders icon has been subsumed into Cortana, and you can turn photos or some app data into reminders.

Cortana remains an expressway to Bing. Anything you do with Cortana ends up in your Bing profile, including local searches. With the Anniversary Update, though, Cortana gains the ability to search your OneDrive files in addition to the files on your machine.

Put it in Windows Ink

The new Windows Ink Workspace finally presents a usable Windows front end for both pen and pinkie. You don't need a Surface Pro or Surface Book or fancy stylus to play; pedestrian pens and even your finger will work fine. If you don't have a touchscreen, you can use your mouse. Enable the new Windows Ink Workspace by right-clicking on the Taskbar and choosing "Show Windows Ink Workspace button."

The best overview of new inking features that I've seen comes from Microsoft itself. Windows Ink group program manager Li-Chen Miller has the lowdown on the Windows blog. In a nutshell, the new interface lets you do the following:

  • Sketch freehand with the assistance of a "ruler" that guides your scribbles
  • Start a new sketch with a screenshot, much the same as you could with the Edge browser inking feature available in earlier versions of Windows 10
  • Create Windows 7-era sticky notes that can be automatically converted to text, then further manipulated using Cortana (for example, look up the price of a stock based on a handwritten stock symbol, set reminders) thanks to Cortana

I tend to think of the translation of handwritten sticky notes as more of an aspiration than a feature. I continue to have problems getting the hand-drawn notes translated, and the added steps (stock lookup, reminders) seem to work only in demos.

Looking for an Edge

Microsoft Edge finally has the long-promised support for extensions, but it is still a long, long way from being a first-rate browser.

As of this writing, I count 13 extensions available for Edge, including two ad blockers. (Edge has a built-in ad blocker too.) The Office Online extension is a collection of links to Office Online services, not unlike the Google Apps links we've had in Chrome for many years. The Evernote extension freezes frequently. The Amazon Assistant means never having to leave Most of the extensions look like they were thrown together over a long weekend.

The one extension I really need -- LastPass, the password manager -- doesn't cut the mustard either. I continue to have all sorts of problems running it.


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