It's nice to take a peek at all of the fancy bells and whistles that came with Windows 10 with the Anniversary Update. To those who haven't been keeping up to date with all of the changes through the Insider program, it might be a bit overwhelming stepping into Windows 10 and seeing all of the new features. For those who want to take a comprehensive look at all of the changes, we've been documenting them for your convenience. Otherwise, let's take a look at all of the changes that have come to Microsoft's gaming scene with the new update.
The Anniversary Update's changes to the Xbox scene have been pretty comprehensive, changing the way that a lot of gamers approach the Xbox community. Tweaks to the Windows Store on Xbox One, Cortana integration, background music, language settings, and more have all come together here to deliver tons of frequently requested features to gamers on Windows 10. It's also worth noting that the shifts made in the anniversary update do a lot to make the Xbox experience cross-platform, making it seamless on PC and Xbox.
For a lot of users logging into their Xbox One for the first time after the update, the first thing they'll notice is their game library. The library has been completely overhauled, giving Xbox users a lot more in the way of options when they're trying to search for their favorite games and applications. Where the old library menu has you stuck with the "Games, apps, queue" options and deprives you of any filtering options, the new library shows you everything you need to know. You get separate sections for your games and apps, sure, but you also get a new "updates" section and a "ready to install" section, along with a handy number beside each tab to let you know how many applications and games fit their respective categories.
Beyond the extra few tabs to categorize your library, you also get more choices for organization. The old Xbox One library had you scrolling through a somewhat irritating two-row menu, where you can choose to have the new menu display everything you have in much smaller tiles. All in all, the new experience for finding your favorite apps has been given a great face-lift, making life a little bit easier for users with tons of games.
You'll also notice that - if you're in the UK or the US - your Xbox One has been fitted with Cortana, Windows 10's iconic digital assistant. Cortana's addition to the Xbox One experience expands the console's access to voice commands by quite a lot, making your verbal communication with your Xbox One a lot more organic. Need to rush to meet your raid group in Destiny? Just say "Hey Cortana, let's play Destiny" and "Hey Cortana, get a party started with [Insert your raid leader's team here]" and the digital assistant will catch your drift no problem, getting you ready to go earn that loot in no time. If you're already used to using voice commands, don't worry - just replace "Xbox" with "Hey Cortana" and all of your voice commands should still work just fine.
If having Cortana take care of you isn't enough to make your Xbox experience that much more pleasant, there's still some other changes that you can get excited about. If you're like a lot of people and can't get into your competitive rhythm without your favorite album or playlist cheering you on, you'll be ecstatic to find out that the anniversary update brought background music to Xbox One. Doing your placement matches in Halo 5's arena or trying to get your flawless run in Destiny's Trials of Osiris? Just go to your music library and put on your most inspiring music - launching a game isn't going to interrupt it. Pandora will be the first music streaming app on Xbox One to support this feature - followed by Groove, iHeartRadio, and more.
Microsoft unveiled the Play Anywhere program during E3 2016, and a lot of people were pretty excited about it. An idea that was flirted with by Quantum Break a few months back, the program states that most Microsoft Studios published games purchased on Xbox One will grant you the same game on PC (through Windows 10) for no additional cost. This system is made possible with the merging of the Xbox Store and the Windows Store, which has come with the Anniversary Update. If you buy a Play Anywhere enabled game on Xbox, it's available in the Windows Store for you on PC, and vice versa. The merging of these two stores also means that you can now read and write reviews on Xbox One games, and rate reviews as helpful or otherwise.
For those of you who don't have an Xbox One on hand, take a look at what's new for gaming on Windows 10 PCs.
The Xbox app has received a few new additions, mostly in the way of GameDVR, sharing, and a few helpful graphics additions. More than anything, Windows 10 PCs are being given a real place within the community that Xbox One users are so familiar with.
If you're on Xbox One, you may be surprised to see some of your friends listed as playing "League of Legends" or "World of Warcraft" when seeing what they're up to on Xbox Live. This is because, as of the Anniversary Update, tons of the top PC games are now officially listed with Xbox, even getting their own game hubs on Xbox Live. Even cooler than that, if you take screenshots or record any gameplay of those PC games through the Windows Game Bar, you can now share them through Xbox Live. If you're on your Xbox One or your Xbox app on mobile (Which is now available for iOS and Android, not just Windows 10 Mobile), you can see your friend's latest pentakill in League or anything else they might be proud of in a PC game.
To help support this new feature, Microsoft is doubling down on the Game Bar and its ability to capture your greatest moments in PC games in all of their glory. You can now record in 60FPS by using the new highest video setting, and you can even record full-screen gameplay in League of Legends, World of Warcraft, DOTA 2, Battlefield 4, Counterstrike: Global Offensive, and Diablo III - with more surely coming soon. If you don't want to set your gameplay to record at the beginning of a match, you can go into the settings of the Xbox app and set GameDVR to record the last 30 seconds of your game at all times. Now, when an incredible moment breaks out, you can capture it on the spot - no preparation necessary.
There are all sorts of little changes that might mean the world to Xbox One and Windows 10 PC users alike. The ability to use Facebook to find your Xbox friends, the new option to change your language without being locked to a region, and the new allowance of PC players to disable Vsync have all been excellent tweaks to the experience. There's no doubt that the Anniversary Update has given everybody a new reason to log into their Xbox and may have even totally changed the way some people play games on PC. The update bridges the gap between the PC and console platforms, and truly manages to make Windows 10 a unifying operating system. Let's hope that Microsoft continues to build upon these changes, making the Xbox community even stronger.