Updated: August 27, 2016
A couple of weeks ago, Microsoft released a new build of Windows 10, to coincide with the one year of general availability of their latest operating system. The milestone also marks the end of the GWX upgrade pestering, so people can actually sleep more soundly, knowing there's a super-hero ... without being bothered by unnecessary prompts.
So far, my experience with Windows 10 has been okay. It's neither bad nor good. Just average. Works fine most of the time, and there are no compelling reasons to switch or upgrade really. The biggest issues are around privacy and telemetry, but we have guides on how to manage those. Now, let's see if this new build can introduce any fresh charm into the Windows 10 arena.
The upgrade took about three hours and three reboots to complete. There were some immediate cosmetic differences, but nothing too drastic. I did notice that the system menu has been redesigned a little, and Windows Store and several associated apps are back, after I had them manually purged previously. This is quite annoying.
I was also prompted to authenticate with my Microsoft account, which I did use for one or two logins. I can't remember which specific apps at this moment. Nothing too important, though.
Let me give you a brief overview of my setup perhaps. I use a local account on my Windows 10 test bunny box, and I also run the W10Privacy tool to manage some of the less obvious and/or hidden system settings. It's not a perfect setup, because I'm normally opposed to tweaking. However, in its default form, Windows 10 is just too aggressive, with forced updates and reboots, Windows Defender nonsense, no ability to fully disable telemetry, and a few other annoying details like that. W10Privacy does help you manage those. The only other thing I had to do was disable the WU service to avoid any accidental reboots.
Active hours? What am I a child? How about active months? I'm not rebooting my box just because someone wants to send me an arbitrary set of security patches. That's boring and overrated. Not interested.
One of the things I feared was my system tweaks being undone by the update. We did see that happen before, and there was a lot of Internet buzz around it. Still is. The whole control game is quite delicate, and also unnecessary. Why would users ever have to worry about their settings being changed randomly by the operating system? That's a sure way of pissing people off.
Cortana can no longer be disabled through the GUI, you need a registry tweak. But she doth not run if you have a local account. Ha ha, Microsoft! The joke is one you. Windows Defender also stayed turned off, but that's because of W10Privacy really.
However, some other settings were changed. They mostly relate to the Store and the apps. I had them removed in the past, which is why it's possible they are back, including the specific settings. This introduces a level of paranoia, as you can never be 100% sure you are not running the same setup you configured for yourself a few months ago. Still, if a push comes to roundhouse kick, you can always use IFEO to stop annoying programs, including Windows components, without tampering with the system integrity.
It is less obtrusive, less annoying before. It's less flashy, less in your face, and it almost feels like a usable product. But the core problem remains: desktop apps are superior in every way, shape or form. Absolutely, hands down, 100%, no argument. And this makes the Store completely redundant. It's fine on mobile, but it's pointless on the desktop. Unless it begins offering all desktop content in a smart way, plus updates, plus games, and no silly restrictions, the Store has no merit or value with sane users.
Finally. Microsoft's flagship browser comes with extensions. Who said there ain't no progress in the closed-source world. Extensions are available through the Store, but at this point, they are far and few in between. Still, it's a noble start.
Edge did hiccup once. The first time I launched it, the Welcome page did not fully load, so I was not able to figure out what the abstract, happy icons actually meant. Either way, the browser has nothing that I find compelling. Really nothing.
All in all, the anniversary update is stable, fairly fast - if not faster than older versions of Windows, and it does feel like a nicely rounded release. Users also have the option to switch back to earlier builds, if they do not like the current one, or find it buggy.
You can also associate your Windows key with your Microsoft account, which should supposedly help you re-activate your Windows if you ever require that, perhaps after big hardware changes. I don't know how this is going to really benefit the end user, but the option is there. You can also buy a Pro upgrade through the Store directly. That's a nice, convenient touch.
One thing that would potentially delight Linux users is the presence of the Bash shell, as an integral part of Windows. I will elaborate more on how to set this functionality up and run the shell, as well as install Linux software. For the time being, let your eyes feast.
Here we go. Windows 10 Anniversary Update, Build 1607 is an okay release, as far as this particular operating system is concerned. Ignore other versions, on its own, it does what it should; whether you like Windows 10 is beside the point, at this point. The anniversary release does introduce a number of interesting changes, features and improvements, and it makes worthier the sum of all parts that is this box of bytes you're working on.
However, I am not happy with some of the privacy changes. And there have also been some additional tweaks under the hood, which limit your ability to alter settings, like Cortana and telemetry. That will just invoke wrath and resistance. Finally, at the end of the day, it's not any better than 7 or 8.1. Just ever so slightly different. More annoying, too. Less freedom for the nerds. There we are. This is probably the most underwhelming review you've read on Dedoimedo yet, but fear not. We shall explore the Bash side of things soon, and that ought to spice things up. Take care.