What you need to know about Windows 10's new upgrade

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The latest upgrade to Windows 10 offers a variety of fixes and tweaks -- and misses a couple of major ones.

There's been a good deal of confusion about the just-released upgrade to Windows 10. It's been called by a variety of names, including Threshold 2, Fall Update, build 10586 and Windows 10 version 1511, and there's been a lot written about it -- but it may still be difficult to glean exactly what it is, what it does and how to get it.

Here's everything you need to know about the upgrade, including how to get it now, even if it doesn't show up for you in Windows Update -- and, of course, assuming you want it.

What it is

This upgrade is much more than a garden-variety update that rolls up a handful of operating patches and security fixes. In fact, in his blog post announcing the new version, Terry Myerson, Microsoft's executive vice president for the Windows and Devices Group, proclaimed it the "First major update for Windows 10 available today." Myerson writes that the new version includes faster performance, improvements to the Edge browser and changes to apps such as Mail, Calendar and Photos.

Although Myerson calls it an "update" in the blog headline and throughout his post, Computerworld's Gregg Keizer points out that, by Microsoft's own definition, it's really an upgrade rather than a mere update. Updates are what are delivered on Patch Tuesday, the second Tuesday of every month, and then on an as-needed basis. They fix security issues and make non-significant changes to Windows that may or may not be visible to users.

Upgrades, on the other hand, "install the latest new features, experiences, and capabilities" of Windows 10, according to Microsoft. The vendor says it will release only two to three upgrades a year -- and this is the first since Windows 10 was released this summer.

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