Windows 10 May 2019 Update: The best new features
Welcome to Windows 10 build 1903, the May 2019 Update.
Windows Update for May 10, 2019 is here—you can start using it today if you want. Before you venture out, it’s a good idea to understand what’s actually changed with the latest update and why you might want to bother with it. I’ve installed the update on at least one PC (probably more at the end of the day), and here are some of the major new features you’ll find.
Performance improvements (ghost fix)
The Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities made waves in the industry last year – and we’re still dealing with the consequences. After updating my motherboard firmware and installing the April 2018 update, I noticed that some of my benchmarks were noticeably slower – SSD random IO performance on NVMe drives was hit especially hard. The May 2019 Update should improve performance with some optimizations to existing Spectre patches.I don’t expect it to do a huge Differences, but any improvements are welcome.
Modify start menu and light theme
Microsoft is cleaning up the Windows 10 Start menu, in addition to a new “light theme” that replaces the previous darker theme. You can see the old and new start menus above, and while I don’t really care about lighter themes, others certainly do. Note that if you previously set up a custom theme (like me), you won’t be pushed to the light theme right away.
Game bar update
It’s also improving if you happen to use the Game Bar. There’s a built-in screenshot and video library that “improves” (maybe) the ability to share screenshots and videos — like adding text to create memes. Yes. You can already have the Game Bar automatically share images via Twitter, which is a great way to get people to unfollow you if you take a lot of screenshots I suspect. Plus, there’s Spotify integration, because it’s too hard to use Spotify alone. There are other changes to the Game Bar, too.
Actually, I’m more interested in the possibility that we might be able to run Xbox One games directly (eventually). Windows Insiders were able to try out State of Decay earlier this year, which apparently uses the Xbox file format. It’s more future-proof than what’s released today, but it’ll be cool to see Play Anywhere plans another big step toward universal Xbox One game support in Windows.
Uninstall more built-in apps
Don’t like all the Windows 10 bloat? You can now uninstall more built-in apps, including Mail, Calendar, Movies & TV, Groove Music, and Paint 3D. But leave the calculator alone, because I like having one. Also, removing Edge is still a bit of a pain, but…
Edge 44.18362, not yet out of the Chromium open source project.
Chromium-based Edge browser
As reported earlier this year, Edge is ditching Microsoft’s custom EdgeHTML rendering engine in favor of Google’s open-source Chromium platform — the same engine that runs Google’s Chrome and Opera. This may be good for standardization and confidence in the open source community. It hasn’t been released yet, but it will probably be released before the October 2019 Update. perhaps.
Cortana and the search bar are getting divorced
Citing irreconcilable differences, Cortana and the search bar are splitting. Now, when you type in the search bar, you’re just looking for files/applications on your local computer and web results via Bing. So it’s not a perfect separation, but Cortana will focus on voice search. You now have a text search box (which can be hidden) and a Cortana icon (which can also be hidden). This is a nice change if you don’t want to disable Cortana entirely.
Pause security updates and skip major updates
Windows 10 Pro has the option to pause updates for a period of time (with limitations), and Windows 10 Home is getting this ability as well. You can pause updates for 7 days, up to 5 times (35 days total). It’s also possible to opt out of larger updates, so if you want to stick with the May 2019 core release, as long as it supports security updates (18 months), you should be able to. When a major OS update is available, you can now choose when to install it.
The new task manager let me launch directly to the details tab.
task manager update
I’ll admit it: I’m a Task Manager junkie. It almost always runs on my PC because I want to see what’s going on, especially when my PC feels sluggish. You can now set the default tab when opening the task manager. There is also a “DPI Awareness” option for the process if you want to see if the application supports DPI settings. This is cool, but I should point out again that all my previous preferences were lost with the latest Windows update. Anyway, at least the task manager will default to my details tab in the future.
Login without password
This might sound a little weird at first, but stick with me. Passwords are often compromised, and 2-factor authentication (for example, via a smartphone app or text message) is generally more secure. With the May 2019 Update, you can use your phone number to create a Microsoft account to initiate a sign in, and then use Windows Hello to authenticate.
Mixed reality desktop application
Wouldn’t it be great to use Excel in a virtual reality environment? At least a few people think so, because Windows will now support Win32 apps launched in mixed reality apps (except Steam VR games and Universal Windows apps). I’m not even sure how this will work since I don’t own/use any VR headsets, but maybe one day.
Windows 10 sandboxed apps
Windows Sandbox (Windows 10 Pro/Enterprise)
Security is becoming more and more important, but sometimes you just want to try to run some random executable. Maybe you know it sucks, maybe it’s just a suspicion, but either way you want to protect your system from harm. Windows Sandbox is your one-stop shop for all your sandboxing needs, no need to set up a virtual machine or anything else. It’s only for Pro and Enterprise users, maybe it’s better not to run rogue executables everywhere, but it’s a nice addition.
There are a lot of other changes, some minor, some maybe not that minor, but probably the biggest insight I can offer is that I haven’t really noticed any changes in the limited time I’ve been using the latest version. I really couldn’t upgrade from a USB drive (because I forgot about that), but solved it by copying the files to local storage. Other than that, for better or worse, Windows 10 is still Windows 10.
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