Microsoft might be a few months removed from the release of the Windows 10 May 2019 Update, but anyone with a PC enrolled in the Fast Ring of the Windows Insider beta testing program can get an early preview of what’s to come in the next big version of Windows for next year, currently code-named 20H1.
Be it the File Explorer, virtual desktops, and some settings and security options, this next version of Windows will look and feel a bit different. Here’s a closer look at what’s new.
Price and release date
Not to be confused with the 19H2 update coming this October, the Windows 10 20H1 update is scheduled for release in spring 2020 and will bring some bigger changes to the operating system. Based on coding obtained from Windows Powershell, it is also rumored to be named the May 2020 Update — after the release month, like previous versions of Windows 10.
As for how it will be delivered, you should expect to see it appear under Windows Update, as always. It will come at no additional cost, as featured updates to Windows 10 are always free.
Changes to File Explorer, and Windows Ink Workspace
At the top of the list of major improvements in 20H1 is a slightly new user interface for the File Explorer. The update enables more rounded corners and a new search system.
What this means is that thanks to an improved spell correction technology, finding your files and apps will be easier, and will look better. In addition, the Windows Ink Workspace also shrinks in size with this release and will bring easier access to Microsoft’s inking and collaboration services. These include Microsoft Whiteboard and Snip & Sketch, for taking and sharing screenshots.
New Cortana experience
Cortana might have been separated from the search bar with the Windows 10 May 2019 Update, but in the 20H1 release, the digital assistant is getting a major overhaul.
Much like what you experience with the Cortana app on iPhone and Android, the assistant is now much more conversational, with an emphasis on text. You can type out commands to ask about sports, weather, and more. You can even drag out Cortana into its own window that it can follow you everywhere.
Changes to Tablet mode
As more and more people move from traditional laptops to 2-in-1s with touch screens, Microsoft is using the 20H1 update as a way to tweak the Windows 10 tablet mode. In this update, when you remove your keyboard from your tablet, Windows won’t prompt you to enter tablet mode. Instead, Windows will now tweak the desktop experience and will change the spacing between icons in the taskbar, and will give you a bigger touch-friendly version of File Explorer.
The search bar will also collapse into an icon, and the Touch keyboard will automatically appear whenever you tap into text fields.
PowerToys makes a comeback
For all the new features in 20H1, Microsoft will also be re-introducing PowerToys, and old feature from Windows 95. It is is a set of utilities for power users to tune and streamline their Windows experience for greater productivity.
You can use it to add a button to your open windows that will allow you to create a new desktop, send a specific app to that desktop, or maximize the app on that new desktop. There is also a list of keyboard shortcuts that you can use with PowerToys. The project is available on GitHub, where you can download it.
Minor tweaks to the virtual desktops, calendar in taskbar
For users who enjoy virtual desktops, 20H1 makes it possible to rename the virtual spaces and save them for when the computer reboots. And, for those who like attention to detail, there will be tweaks to the calendar, allowing users to add events from the taskbar.
There are also more ways for users to control notification options, with a direct link for settings appearing at the top of the Action Center. That builds on new app-specific notification options available when hovering over a notification.
As for the settings changes in 20H1, Microsoft will continue to push its Windows Hello facial-recognition system as a method for secure logins. Windows users with a computer that has a compatible webcam will be able to sign in with just Windows Hello and remove all passwords from the login screen.
Next, for those who use Windows in multiple languages, it will be easier to set a default language for Windows apps and services.
Whenever something goes wrong with your laptop or computer, you’ll typically need to download an ISO from Microsoft or use the in-built media included with your PC to reinstall Windows 10. Well, with the 20H1 update, Microsoft is making it easier to re-install the operating system.
Keen to what’s available on MacOS, now, when you want to reset Windows, you can choose an option to Cloud download Windows — without having to create installation media. It will install the same build, version, and edition of Windows that you were last running and installed on your device.
In addition to the big changes above, there are some other interesting changes with 20H1 in both the Task Manager and settings. Users will be able to see disk types and GPU temperatures in the task manager, and they’ll also be able to control and limit the bandwidth used by Windows Update. On top of that, Microsoft also unbundled Notepad from Windows 10, which means it could now occasionally get updated via the Microsoft Store with fresh new features.
Bigger than 19H2
Unlike the 19H2 update which is more focused on minor tweaks to Windows, this 20H1 release delivers on more new features. As this update isn’t due for release until the second half of 2020, you can expect Microsoft to keep tweaking the experience and add more over time. Here’s how you can sign up to be a Windows Insider if you want to get started with any of these new Windows features.