Everything new and improved in the Windows 10 May 2019 Update (and how to use it)

Codenamed 19H1, the Windows 10 May 2019 Update is Microsoft’s first major update for the operating system this year. It is also the seventh version of the OS after its initial release. The tech company took the update as an opportunity to provide a fresh set of enhancements and features that will improve Windows 10’s security and performance.

Microsoft was supposed to release the update inApril. However, it delayed the rollout to ensure that the final version will be more stable and reliable. The tech giant began limited release on May 21, 2019. On June 6, 2019, Microsoft made the update available for the general public. Now, you may be dying to know what’s new in the Windows 10 May 2019 Update. Well, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve put together this comprehensive guide to show you the important things that have changed and improved in the Windows 10 operating system.

How to get the Windows 10 May 2019 Update

You might ask, "How do I upgrade to the Windows 10 May 2019 Update?" Supposedly, your operating system downloads updates discreetly in the background. A simple restart of your computer will install it automatically. However, in some cases, this does not happen and you need to check for available updates manually. Here’s how to get the Windows 10 May 2019 Update:

  1. On your keyboard, press Windows Key+I. Doing so will open the Settings app.
  2. Once you’re inside the Settings app, select Update & Security.
  3. Go to the right pane, then click Check for Updates.
  4. When the process is complete, you should be able to see the 'Feature update to Windows 10, version 1903' message.
  5. Click Download and Install Now to get the Windows 10 May 2019 Update.
  6. Restart your computer to install the update.

SEE ALSO: Free up over 17GB of storage space by cleaning up after the Windows 10 May 2019 Update

What’s New in the Windows 10 May 2019 Update?

One of the biggest changes that Microsoft made has something to do with how updates are downloaded and installed. Users can now enjoy more control over when they get the updates. You might ask, "Do I need the Windows 10 May 2019 Update?" Well, there are many good reasons to install it. On the other hand, it still has its disadvantages. What’s important is Microsoft now gives you the time to contemplate whether you’ll install the updates.

If you do not want to install the Windows 10 version 1903, you can keep using what you already have. You can continue to do so as long as your OS version is supported with security updates. However, 18 months after the release of the new operating system version, you have no choice but to install the update for security improvements.

Aside from that, if you’re using the Home edition of Windows 10, you will be able to pause the updates for up to 35 days. You can do this in seven-day intervals for up to five times. Even if you click the Check for Updates button on the Settings app, Windows won’t install the updates automatically. You can now pause the updates if you wish.

Microsoft did not stop at that. Here are the other changes you can expect:

7 GB of Reserved Storage

If your computer does not have sufficient disk space, you won’t be able to install the updates successfully. Thankfully, Microsoft has provided a solution to this problem. The new OS version will now use 7 GB of your PC’s storage, then turn it into 'reserved storage.' While this space is intended for Windows Update, other programs can use it to keep temporary files. Once your operating system needs the reserved storage space, it will remove the temporary files and install the updates.

What this means is that the reserved storage space won’t lie useless, simply waiting for the next update. Your operating system can use it when necessary while Microsoft is still developing new updates. It is worth noting that the specific amount of storage space depends on the languages and optional features you have installed. That said, the size will start at 7 GB.

Improvements on the Patches for Spectre

Spectre is a security vulnerability that shocked the industry last year. It is a design flaw that allows programs to bypass their limitations and read the memory spaces of other programs. Microsoft released patches that block Spectre attacks. However, these patches slowed down the performance of PCs, especially those with older CPUs.

Microsoft eliminated the performance issues and released the fixes via the May 2019 Update. Users can speed their computers up through the 'import optimization' and 'retpoline' features that the tech company rolled out. So, installing the new OS version should get your PC to perform faster.

Fresh Look for the Desktop Theme

The new Windows 10 version has a lighter desktop theme. Instead of having a dark look, the taskbar, Start menu, print dialog, notifications action center sidebar, and other interface items have a light theme. Microsoft even added a default wallpaper that goes well with the new design. You will also notice that the icon for File Explorer features brighter colors. Its design is similar to the design language Microsoft uses for its Office apps icons.

SEE ALSO: How to rollback and uninstall the Windows 10 May 2019 Update

Other Aesthetic Changes

Microsoft has made the 'Fix Scaling for Apps' option enabled by default. This change helps configure blurry applications using high DPI displays. It is worth noting that this feature was added in the April 2018 Update. However, Microsoft left it disabled by default.

In an effort to execute the Fluent Design System across Windows 10, Microsoft has given the sign-in screen an 'acrylic' background. Before, it had a blurry look.

When you go to the Action Center, you will notice that the brightness tile is now a slider. This design makes it more convenient and easier for you to modify the brightness level of your display. Moreover, if you want to edit your tiles from the sidebar, you can right-click a quick action tile and choose Edit Quick Actions from the menu. In this way, you would not have to open the Settings app.

Built-in Windows Sandbox

Professional, Enterprise, and Education editions of Windows 10 version 1903 now have a built-in Windows Sandbox. This feature allows you to run software programs in an isolated, integrated desktop environment. It reinforces your computer’s security because once you close Sandbox, all the files and program history in it will be deleted. The utility confines software programs in a container by using hardware-based virtualization. Users can customize the hardware available to Sandbox, using config files.

Simplified Start Menu

If you have a new installation of Windows 10 version 1903, you will see a simplified default layout on the Start menu. Many users complained about how cluttered it is. So, Microsoft took the initiative to transform it into a sleek, one-column design. It also reduced the top-level tiles. There are also new icons for the Shut Down, Sleep, and Restart options in the power menu. When you go to the profile menu, you will see new icons for the Lock, Change Account Settings, and Sign Out options. Moreover, if you are experiencing issues with the Start menu, you can open the Task Manager and see a separate StartMenuExperienceHost.exe process.

Removing Built-In Apps

One of the great things about the May 2019 Update is it now allows users to uninstall a lot of built-in apps. Before, the list included My Office, Solitaire, and Skype. However, with the update, you can now remove other built-in apps like Groove Music, 3D Viewer, Paint 3D, Mail, and so much more. Unfortunately, you still won’t be able to uninstall the Store app or Microsoft Edge.

Search and Cortana as Separate Experiences

With the Windows 10 May 2019 Update, Search and Cortana will become two separate experiences on the taskbar. You will notice a different landing page with better spacing when you use the Search function. Moreover, when you tap Cortana, you will be able to access the voice assistant directly. On the Settings app, you will find two different pages for managing the Cortana settings and the Search experience.

If you do not like the standard Windows search bar featuring online search results from Bing, you will still have to endure it more. Microsoft did not remove this feature. On the other hand, you now have access to more options, including disabling SafeSearch.

It is worth noting that this modification decreases the relevance of Cortana. Users can disable the Cortana icon, leave the Search bar on the taskbar, then use Alexa as their virtual assistant.

SEE ALSO: How to download any version of Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 (and Office)

More Comprehensive Start Menu Search Feature

Before, the Start menu’s Search box could only search libraries like Downloads, Documents, Pictures, Music, Videos, and the Desktop folder. Now, this feature has gotten a lot more useful. It now uses the Windows Search Index and locates files anywhere on your computer. Because of the index, the search queries will also be quick.

For quite some time, Microsoft failed to bring the Windows Search Index experience to the Start menu. Now, you can use the Settings app to configure which locations to index. If you want to enable this feature, follow the steps below:

  1. Launch the Settings app by pressing Windows Key+I on your keyboard.
  2. Select Search, then click Searching Windows.
  3. Choose Enhanced (Recommended). This step will allow you to index your entire computer.
  4. If you want to index specific libraries, you can choose Classic.

On the Search interface, you will see the files you recently opened as well as the 'Top Apps' you use. They will be at the top of the pane, allowing you to launch them conveniently.

A Different Sign-In Experience

If your Microsoft account is linked to your phone number, you will be able to use an SMS code to sign in. You can even set up your Windows 10 account without submitting a password. Of course, there are still methods of authentication. You can choose the Windows Hello Face, a PIN, or the Fingerprint feature. The new version of Windows 10 also updated the design of the PIN reset experience. It now looks similar to what you see on the Microsoft web services.

Windows Update Icon on the Taskbar

You can now have a notification icon for Windows Update on the taskbar. If you want to enable this feature, follow the instructions below:

  1. On your keyboard, press Windows Key+I. Doing so will open the Settings app.
  2. Once you’re inside the Settings app, select Update & Security.
  3. Go to the left-pane menu, then select Windows Update.
  4. Now, move to the right pane, then click Advanced Options.
  5. Look for the option which says, "Show a notification when your PC requires a restart to finish updating." Toggle its switch to On to show the Windows Update icon on the taskbar.

When you need to reboot your computer for updates, you will see the Windows Update icon on your taskbar. It will appear with an orange dot, making it more convenient for you to know when you need to restart your PC for updates.

Pro Tip: Indeed, updates can bring user experience to a higher level. Aside from installing updates for your operating system, you must also ensure that you have the latest driver versions on your computer. There are various methods to update your drivers, but one of the easiest, safest, and most reliable way to do so is to use Auslogics Driver Updater.

SEE ALSO: How to install Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 (WSL 2) on Windows 10

Other Icons on the Taskbar

When your PC is not connected to the Internet, you will see a globe-shaped icon on the taskbar. This icon takes the place of individual symbols for cellular data, Wi-Fi, and Ethernet. You will also notice that the microphone status has its own icon too. When an application is using your microphone, the icon will appear in your notification. When you hover your mouse pointer over the icon, it will show you which app is using your microphone.

New Console Features

With the new Windows 10 version, the console will allow you to zoom in and out. All you need to do is press and hold the Ctrl key, then use your mouse or trackpad to scroll. Because of the default Consolas font, the text in the console does not look pixelated when you scale it. It is also worth noting that the frame’s aspect ratio remains the same, preventing the text from overflowing onto different lines.

You will also be able to adjust some new experimental console features. You can see them by right-clicking the title bar of any window. Select Properties, then go to the Terminal tab. Among the items you can configure are the color and shape of the text entry cursor.

Windows Troubleshoots Automatically

The built-in Windows troubleshooters have been around for some time, and you can access them via the Settings app. However, Microsoft has decided to let the operating system fix some issues in the background. The tech company announced that the operating system will fix critical issues automatically to ensure that it will run smoothly. For instance, Windows can restore the default settings of critical services. It can also manage various feature settings to match the user’s hardware configuration. Unfortunately, these types of troubleshooting procedures cannot be disabled.

It is also worth noting that you can now configure Windows to perform recommended troubleshooting in the background. To manage this feature, you need to follow this path:

Settings ->Privacy ->Diagnostics & Feedback

Go to Recommended Troubleshooting, then choose among the following options:

  • Ask me before fixing problems
  • Tell me when problems get fixed
  • Fix problems for me without asking

Focus Assist Allows You to Hide Notifications

It can be annoying to see notifications while you are using full-screen apps like a video player. Well, Microsoft has made an improvement to Focus Assist to fix this. Before, this feature hid notifications only while users were playing a full-screen game. However, it now works when you are using any app. Whether you’re using your full-screen web browser, spreadsheet, or video player, you can hide the notifications.

Improvements on Notepad

Apparently, there is still room for improvement in Notepad. Microsoft has configured it to restore any unsaved content. If your system reboots for updates while you are working on an unsaved Notepad file, once your device restarts, the program will reopen with the recovered content.

Microsoft also improved the way Notepad manages encodings. On the status bar, you will see the open document’s encoding. Even without a Byte Order Mark, the program will be able to save files in UTF-8 format. It goes without saying that this makes Notepad more web-friendly. After all, UTF-8 is the default web format. Moreover, it works well with traditional ASCII.

If you’ve made changes to a Notepad file and you have not saved them, you will see an asterisk in the title bar. For example, if you make modifications on a file named Version1.txt and do not save it, you will see *Version1.txt on the title bar. It will stay this way until you save the file.

Microsoft has added new shortcuts for Notepad as well. If you want to open a new Notepad window, you just need to press Ctrl+Shift+N. To open the Save As dialog, press Ctrl+Shift+S. To close the current window, you simply need to press Ctrl+W. If you set a larger MAX_PATH in your system, you will be able to save Notepad files with a path longer than 260 characters. Aside from that, you can now deliver feedback to Microsoft by clicking Help ->Send Feedback.

SEE ALSO: How to center Windows 10 taskbar icons

Games with Anti-Cheat Software Cause BSOD Errors

It is worth noting that when users under the Insider program installed the May 2019 Update, some games caused the operating system to crash. Blue Screen of Death errors occurred because the anti-cheat software of the games conflicted with one of the update features. In Windows 10 Insider builds, these error screens were green. So, they were also referred to as 'Green Screen of Death' errors.

It is likely that the anti-cheat programs were messing up the Windows kernel responsible for making the operating system more secure and stable. Many -- but not all -- game developers have fixed this issue. It is still possible for you to encounter the problem if the game developer hasn’t resolved it yet. Hopefully, all anti-cheat software developers will release a patch for this issue soon.

Improvements on Windows Security

The Windows 10 May 2019 Update comes with several improvements for Windows Security. For instance, Microsoft added a new 'Protection History' feature. The experience will continue to show what Windows Defender Antivirus detects. However, this time, you see more details about the threats. They will also be easier to understand. Aside from that, you will now see information about Controlled Folder Access. If the Attack Surface Reduction rules have been configured, the Protection History experience will show you the details.

Any threat detected by the Windows Defender Offline scanning tool will show up in your history as well. Moreover, if there are issues left unaddressed, your history will show them in a red or yellow state.

Windows Defender Antivirus now has a Tamper Protection setting. When you enable this feature, you can have protection against unauthorized changes to crucial security items. To access Tamper Protection, follow this path:

Settings ->Update & Security ->Windows Security ->Virus & Threat Protection ->Virus & Threat Protection Settings

Another notable addition to Windows Security is the new Windows Defender Application Guard. When you use this feature, you will be able to control camera and microphone access while you’re browsing on Microsoft Edge. If you are using a corporate-managed device, you will be able to review the settings that your company has configured.

More Features for the Game Bar

Before, the Game Bar was just, well, a bar. Now, Microsoft has transformed it into a full overlay with various features, including a performance widget complete with system resource usage graphs, Spotify integration, a built-in gallery for videos and screenshots, a customizable user interface, and an Xbox social widget.

Changes to the Settings App

Microsoft also made several improvements on the Settings app. For instance, the Storage Settings page underwent a minor redesign. When you go to the Storage section in the Settings app, you will see details about how your storage space has been used. When you click a category, you will discover some recommendations for freeing up space.

Another change that Microsoft made to the Settings app has something to do with your computer’s date and time. You will now be able to synchronize your clock with an Internet time service by clicking the Sync Now button. You will also be able to see the last time you performed this action along with the address of the current Internet time server your system is using.

You can now modify advanced IP settings for Ethernet connections, using the Settings app. Some of the things you can do include setting your preferred DNS server or configuring a static IP address. Before, you could only perform these actions through the Control Panel. Once you’ve installed the May 2019 Update, you can use the Settings app to access these features. Here are the steps:

  1. Click the Search icon on your taskbar, then type Settings inside the box.
  2. Press Enter to open the Settings app.
  3. Select Network & Internet.
  4. Go to the left-pane menu, then select Ethernet.
  5. Now, move to the right pane, then select your Ethernet connection.
  6. Under IP Settings, click Edit.

New Option for Active Hours

The Active Hours feature has been around ever since the Anniversary Update. You can let your operating system know the usual times you use your computer. In this way, it won’t reboot your device automatically for updates during these specific hours.

Microsoft made a minor change to the Active Hours feature. After installing the May 2019 Update, you will have access to a new feature which allows you to 'automatically adjust active hours for this device based on activity.' Your operating system will observe your PC usage and set your active hours automatically. You will be able to access this feature by following this path:

Settings ->Update & Security ->Windows Update ->Change Active Hours

SEE ALSO: How to use emoji to name files and folders on Windows 10

New Features in the Task Manager

With the Windows 10 May 2019 Update, you will be able to choose a default tab in the Task Manager. Whenever you open the Task Manager, you will land on your preselected default tab. To configure this feature, follow the instructions below:

  1. On your keyboard, press Windows Key+S.
  2. Inside the Search box, type Task Manager, then press Enter.
  3. Once the Task Manager is up, click Options on the menu at the top.
  4. Select Set Default Tab from the options.
  5. Set which tab you want to appear whenever you open the Task Manager.

You can also open the Task Manager to see the high DPI awareness of your system’s processes. You will be able to see more details about which applications will perform better with high DPI displays. If you want to access this feature, you can follow the steps below:

  1. On your keyboard, press Ctrl+Shift+Esc. Doing so will launch the Task Manager.
  2. Go to the Details tab.
  3. Right-click one of the categories at the top of the list.
  4. Click Select Columns.
  5. Look for DPI Awareness and make sure that this option is selected.
  6. Click OK.

Other Notable Changes in the Windows 10 Operating System

The May 2019 Update is packed with new features and improvements. They are so comprehensive that we may not even be able to cover them all in this article. However, we will mention a few more:

Consistent Display Brightness -- When you plug your laptop’s charger into an outlet, you will notice that the brightness level of the display changes automatically. With the May 2019 Update, your system will remember automatically your preferred brightness. So, whether you’re using battery power or your laptop is plugged into an outlet, the brightness level will remain consistent.

Mirror Your Phone’s Screen on Your Desktop -- Microsoft promised to release the mirroring feature via the October 2018 Update. However, the tech company delayed the rollout. Well, you will be delighted to know that it is now available in the May 2019 Update.

SEE ALSO: Here are all the features Microsoft removed or deprecated in Windows 10 May 2019 Update

Updates on Select Apps -- Microsoft also updated various built-in apps. For instance, you will discover more options for working with screenshots on Snip & Sketch. You can now add borders to the screenshot. Moreover, you now have the option to use a timer to take delayed screenshots. The new Sticky Notes 3.0 allows you to sync your notes between your devices. When you open the Mail & Calendar app, you will see a navigation button for accessing Microsoft To-Do. Microsoft redesigned the Office app according to the new Office.com experience. It provides a more convenient way to install and launch Office apps. You can also use the Office app to locate documents you recently used.

Indeed, Microsoft put a lot of effort into improving the Windows 10 operating system. While the update is generally stable, you will inevitably encounter issues every now and then. What’s important is you download the updates regularly to be able to install the necessary patches.

What do you think about the May 2019 Update?

Do not hesitate to share your thoughts in the comments below!

Image Credit: Luis Molinero / Shutterstock

Eunice Samson is a freelance writer. This article was commissioned by Auslogics and republished with kind permission. Founded in 2008 in Sydney, Australia, Auslogics has grown into an industry leader in the production of computer maintenance and optimization software for Microsoft Windows. Follow the company on Facebook, and YouTube.

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