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Clues suggest July 29 is Microsoft’s launch date for Windows 10 Anniversary Update

The release date of Microsoft’s highly-anticipated Anniversary Update upgrade for Windows 10 was recently discovered in two slides that were shown during the company’s Windows Hardware Engineering Conference event earlier this year. Based on those slides, Anniversary Update will arrive on July 29, the same date Microsoft used to release its Windows 10 operating system last year. That’s also the same day Microsoft pulls the plug on its free upgrade offer to the new platform.

As previously reported, Anniversary Update is code-named internally as Redstone 1, or RS1. The first slide shows that RS1 will go RTM (release to manufacturer) in July, meaning that’s when Microsoft finishes development, seals it with a kiss, and hands the code off to manufacturers to install on their devices.

Related: Get ready for more ads in Windows 10 after the Anniversary Update

The first slide also seems to show that developers must use only the certified RS1 Windows Hardware Lab Kit driver (HLK) 90 days after the RTM build is unleashed. Before that, they can use the certified RS1 HLK driver or the HLK driver provided for the Threshold 2 (TH2) update, which was released last fall, when the RTM build is finally released.

The second slide provided by Microsoft actually shows a clear date: July 29. A timeline reveals that the window to use either HLK drivers extends from July 29 to October 28. Again, that timeline shows a movement from the older platform to the newer one, with the new, RS1-certified HLK driver required to be in use 90 days after the Anniversary Update is released.

Anniversary Update will be Microsoft’s biggest free upgrade to Windows 10 yet. It will not only address desktop and laptop users, but add great new features to Xbox One and Windows 10 Mobile devices such as improved Cortana support, better touch-based interactions with Windows Ink, an updated Windows Hello experience, multiplayer gaming between Windows 10 and Xbox One, a tweaked Start Menu, and more.

The Anniversary Update is reportedly part one of two major updates for Windows 10. The second part, Redstone 2 or RS2, has no release date, although there’s talk that it won’t appear until early next year, along with new Microsoft-branded hardware. RS2 will reportedly contain features that didn’t make it into RS1 — features that the new hardware will reportedly showcase.

Choosing the July 29 date really isn’t all that unexpected given that’s the one-year anniversary of Windows 10’s commercial release. As previously mentioned, that’s also the date when Microsoft ends its free upgrade program for genuine Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1 customers. Once that day passes, Microsoft customers will be forced to shell out $120 for Windows 10 Home or $200 for Windows 10 Pro.

Microsoft launched its first major update for Windows 10, TH2, on November 12, 2015. The company boasted that the update improved performance in everyday tasks, such as boot times that are supposedly now 30 percent faster than Windows 7 on the same device. The company also made improvements to Cortana, Microsoft Edge, and even Windows Store. That said, with the launch of the new Anniversary Update upgrade this summer, the store will be even more unified across desktops/laptops, mobile devices, and the Xbox One.

Windows Insiders are actually getting a taste of Anniversary Update now. There is still quite a bit about the upgrade we don’t know about, so we expect Microsoft to spill more of the Anniversary Update beans as we grow closer to the presumed July 29 launch.