Microsoft Answers Windows 10 Critics Amid Update

Microsoft has a birthday present for Windows 10 users: more capabilities for its Cortana digital assistant and new ways to ditch passwords.

The company is also changing the notices it sends to users of previous versions, following complaints that it was too aggressive in pushing them to get the free Windows 10 upgrade.

Microsoft's "Anniversary Update," scheduled for release Aug. 2, will let users activate Cortana with a spoken command ("Hey Cortana") even while their screen has gone into sleep mode. Cortana will be able to recall more types of information, such as frequent flier numbers or parking locations. Users can also ask Cortana to remember specific photos, such as a wine bottle to buy again later.

For devices that allow sign-ins with a biometric identifier, such as facial recognition, the update will extend that capability to third-party websites and apps, so users won't have to remember separate passwords.

Other new features include Windows Ink, which will let users with a digital stylus add hand-written notes or reminders and draw on documents, maps or other apps. Video gamers will be able to start playing on an Xbox One console or a Windows 10 PC and resume on another device without losing their progress.

The Anniversary Update, which was previewed at Microsoft's developer conference this spring, is free for anyone who already has Windows 10. Users of previous versions must get the current version of Windows 10 by July 29 or pay $119 after that .

"For the most part, all of those machines whose owners wanted the upgrade will hopefully have gotten one," Microsoft corporate vice president Yusuf Mehdi told The Associated Press.

There are now 350 million devices running Windows 10, which has been available since last July 29. Microsoft says adoption has been faster than previous versions.

Getting more people to use the new software is...

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