Windows 10's new default light desktop background

The latest version of Windows 10 is the May 2019 Update, version “1903,” which was released on May 21, 2019. Microsoft releases new major updates every six months.

These major updates can take some time to reach your PC since Microsoft and PC manufacturers do extensive testing before fully rolling them out. Let’s take a look at what’s included in the latest version, how to find out what version you’re running, and how you can skip the wait and get the most recent version if you don’t already have it.

The Latest Version Is the May 2019 Update

The latest version of Windows 10 is the May 2019 Update. This is Windows 10 version 1903, and it was released on May 21, 2019. This update was codenamed “19H1” during its development process, as it was released in the first half of 2019. It was originally supposed to be called the April 2019 Update but was delayed by a month.

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Windows 10’s May 2019 Update includes a number of new features and smaller improvements, including a new light theme with a new default desktop background, big changes to Windows Update, speed improvements thanks to better Spectre fixes, the Windows Sandbox for testing software in a secure container, and the separation of Cortana and the search bar.

Windows 10's light theme and new desktop background

How to Check if You Have the Latest Version

To see which version of Windows 10 you have, open your Start menu, and then click the gear-shaped “Settings” icon to open the Settings app. You can also fire up the app by pressing Windows+I.

RELATED: How to Find Out Which Build and Version of Windows 10 You Have

Head to System > About in the Settings window, and then scroll down toward the bottom to the “Windows Specifications” section.

A version number of “1903” indicates that you’re using the May 2019 Update. This is the latest version. If you see a lower version number, you’re using an older version.

Windows 10 version number 1903 on the About screen.

If you see a higher version number than 1903 on your system, you’re likely running an unstable Insider Preview version of Windows.

How to Update to the Latest Version

When Microsoft provides the update to your PC, it automatically installs itself. But Microsoft doesn’t offer new Windows updates to all PCs at once. Instead, Microsoft rolls them out slowly over time, after both Microsoft and the various PC manufacturers check to see if they cause problems with different hardware configurations. If your PC doesn’t get the update, Microsoft isn’t entirely confident it will work on your hardware just yet.

However, you can override this and choose to install the update anyway. After all, you can always downgrade back to your current version of Windows 10 if you have any problems, assuming you choose to do so within ten days after upgrading. There’s some risk here, but you are still installing a stable operating system update.

To install the update anyway, you can now head to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update and click the “Check for Updates” button. If a stable version of Windows 10 is available, Windows Update may offer to download and install it—even if it hasn’t been rolled out to your PC yet. Look for a “Download and install now” link below a notice about a “Feature Update” being available for your PC.

Choice to install the 1903 feature update in Windows Update
Microsoft

You can also visit Microsoft’s Download Windows 10 page to update. Click the “Update now” button to download the Update Assistant tool, and then run the tool. It will upgrade your PC to the latest version of Windows 10—even if the update wasn’t offered to you via Windows Update. The tool may still refuse to install the update if your some issues need to be fixed with your PC’s configuration first. You can either wait or try to troubleshoot the problem yourself.

Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor in Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for nearly a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6 and Chicago's WGN-TV, and his work has been covered by news outlets like The New York Times and the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than 500 million times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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