Windows 10’s May 2020 Update launched on May 27, 2020. Code-named 20H1 during development, this is Windows 10 version 2004. It’s much bigger than Windows 10’s November 2019 update but still feels like a collection of useful improvements.
This post is up-to-date with the features in the final release. We originally published this article on Aug. 28, 2019, and we updated it throughout Microsoft’s development process.
How to Install the May 2020 Update Right Now
You can head to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update to find the update. Click “Check for Updates” and you may be offered the update. It may take some time for the update to appear in Windows Update after the official release. Microsoft goes through a slow update rollout process, slowly offering the latest software to more and more people while ensuring it’s stable and no bugs are popping up.
You can also download Microsoft’s Update Assistant and run it. The Update Assistant will always upgrade your Windows 10 system to the latest version, even if the update isn’t showing up in Windows Update on your PC yet. The tool skips the usual slow rollout process.
Warning: You’re skipping part of Microsoft’s testing process by updating Windows with the Update Assistant. Microsoft is already fixing a variety of problems in the update, so you might want to wait for some bugfixes before you update. If you install the update and encounter problems, here’s how you can uninstall it.
More Control Over Optional Updates
Windows Update automatically installs many updates, but some updates are optional. Now, there’s a new screen that shows all these updates in one place.
Hardware driver updates, big feature updates like the May 2020 Update itself, and monthly non-security quality updates like the C and D updates will appear here.
To find this screen after updating to the May 2020 Update, head to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update > View optional updates. You can then choose which updates you might want to install.
Windows Update will still automatically install many hardware driver updates, but sometimes there are additional updates that may not automatically be installed. In the past, you had to dig through the Device Manager and select a specific device to update. Now, all optional hardware driver updates will appear on this screen. Microsoft says “if you’re having a problem, one of those optional drivers might help.”
A New Cortana Experience (With Typing)
Microsoft is advertising a “new Cortana experience” with a “brand-new chat-based UI.” You can now type queries to Cortana rather than say them out loud. The history of your conversation with Cortana will appear as if it was a chat window, so you can see the results of recent queries just by opening Cortana from the taskbar.
The Cortana panel is now a more normal window, too. You can resize it and move it around on your desktop by dragging the title bar, just like other windows. It supports both Windows 10’s light and dark themes, too.
Beyond the new design, Microsoft says it has “updated Cortana with new speech and language models” as well as “significantly improved performance” of the voice assistant. Microsoft says you’ll be able to use Cortana in any of its supported languages, even if your Windows operating system is set to use a display language Cortana doesn’t support.
Cortana Loses Support for Smart Home Skills
Cortana is now all business. Rather than trying to be a do-everything smart assistant that competes with Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple’s Siri, Cortana is focusing on productivity.
Microsoft says that “as part of Cortana’s evolution into a personal productivity assistant in Microsoft 365,” it’s making some changes. Many “consumer skills” like support for music services, connected smart home devices, and other third-party skills have been removed.
Cortana can still help you send emails, review calendar items, find files, search the web, set alarms, and open apps. Cortana can still tell you a joke, too. But don’t expect Cortana to control your smart home’s lighting or music-streaming service anymore.
You can now download and use Amazon Alexa on any Windows 10 PC, so there’s still a way to accomplish these tasks from Windows.
Cloud Download for Reinstalling Windows
Windows 10 has a new “Cloud Download” option you can use when resetting your PC to a default Windows system. When you head to Settings > Update & Security > Recovery and choose to reset your PC and remove everything, you can now tell Windows to use “Cloud Download.” Rather than reinstalling Windows 10 from the files on your local system, Windows will download the most up-to-date version of Windows 10 and install it on your system.
This will save time on updates afterward. Previously, the only way to do this was to either update Windows 10 before “resetting” your system or by creating new Windows 10 installation media. Windows 10’s Reset feature has become much more powerful.
Bandwidth Limits for Windows Update
The Settings app now gives you more control over how much bandwidth is used for downloading Windows updates. In older versions of Windows, you can set a bandwidth limit as a percentage of your bandwidth. Windows 10 version 2004 will let you set a precise “Absolute bandwidth” limit in Mbps for more accurate throttling of downloaded updates. This option was previously available in Group Policy but is now available to everyone in Settings.
To find the update bandwidth limiting options on any version of Windows 10, head to Settings > Update & Security > Delivery Optimization > Advanced options.
WSL 2 With a Linux Kernel
The new Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) is probably the most important feature in Windows 10 20H1. This is WSL version 2, and it’s even more powerful than the first version. WSL 2 uses a real Linux kernel to provide an even more powerful, more full-featured Linux environment on Windows 10.
Microsoft will build its own Linux kernel and ship it with WSL 2, and that Linux kernel will be updated through Windows Update. You can also build your own Linux kernel and make Windows 10 use it. You don’t have to think about any of this, though—WSL 2 has the same user experience as WSL 1 and will “just work” without any extra configuration.
WSL 2 promises “dramatic file system performance increases” and “full system call compatibility.” That compatibility means support for technologies like Docker that wouldn’t run on the original WSL 1.
Beyond that, Microsoft has added support for ARM64 devices—in other words, WSL now works in Windows on ARM PCs. The WSL release notes say this will only work “if your CPU / firmware supports virtualization.”
More configuration options are available, too. For example, you can set a Linux distribution’s default user account in its
A Faster Windows Search Experience
Windows 10’s May 2019 Update fixed Start menu search. Microsoft did this by taking advantage of the old Windows search indexer, which runs in the background and scans your PC’s files to create a search database.
Microsoft asked why Insiders were turning off the search indexer and received three main areas to improve: “excessive disk and CPU usage, general performance issues, and low perceived value of the indexer.” Microsoft says it’s now detecting peak usage times so it can better optimize when the indexer runs. For example, it won’t run when gaming mode is on, if power saving mode is on, if low power mode is on, when CPU usage is about 80%, when disk usage is above 70%, or when the battery is below 50%.
Windows search will get faster on developer PCs by default, too. The Windows search indexer will now “exclude common developer folders, such as .git, .hg, .svn, .Nuget, and more by default.” Performance will improve while compiling and synchronizing code.
Disk Type in the Task Manager
Windows 10’s Task Manager now displays your disk type—SSD or HDD. This makes it easier to see what hardware is in your computer, and it can help you tell which disk is which if you have multiple disks in your system.
This information is displayed on the Performance tab. Open the Task Manager (Ctrl+Shift+Esc) and click “More Details” to find it.
GPU Temperature in the Task Manager
That’s not the only new feature the Task Manager is getting. The Task Manager’s performance tab will also display your GPU temperature, too. Assuming you have a graphics card with a new enough driver—it must support the WDDM 2.4 driver model— you’ll find this information on your GPU’s status page under the Performance tab, too. This also only works with dedicated graphics cards, not integrated or onboard GPUs.
This is just the latest GPU-monitoring feature in the Task Manager. Previous updates added features like per-process GPU usage, overall GPU usage display, graphics driver version information, graphics memory usage, and hardware details.
FPS in the Xbox Game Bar
Windows 10’s new game bar is already more of a full-screen overlay packed with features, including quick volume controls, performance graphs, and even Spotify integration. Now, it’s getting better with an FPS counter and achievement overlay.
Press Windows+G to open the Game Bar while playing a game, and you’ll see a real-time FPS counter without installing third-party applications like FRAPS or activating a game-specific option.
Windows Lets You “Make Your Device Passwordless”
Microsoft new lets you “Make your device passwordless” with a new option on the Settings > Accounts > Sign-in page. It sounds awesome and futuristic, but really it’s just a new setting that requires everyone on your PC sign in with a PIN or another Windows Hello sign-in method like face or fingerprint unlock.
Safe Mode now works with PIN login, too. If you’ve set up Windows Hello to sign in with a PIN, you’ll be able to use that PIN to sign in to your PC after booting into Safe Mode. Previously, Safe Mode made you enter your account’s password.
Renaming Virtual Desktops
Windows 10’s virtual desktops, available in the Task View interface that appears when you press Windows+Tab on your keyboard or click the Task View icon on the taskbar, are getting more configurable.
Rather than being stuck with the default names of “Desktop 1,” “Desktop 2,” and so on, you can now rename them. Just click the name of each virtual desktop at the top of the Task View interface and type a new name.
As Microsoft points out, you can even use emojis in the names. Just press Windows+. (period) to open the emoji picker and enter an emoji. This emoji panel works in nearly any text field in Windows 10.
Improved Network Status Information
The network status page at Settings > Network & Internet > Status has been redesigned. It now shows all the network interfaces you have available at the top of the page. For example, both Wi-Fi and Ethernet will be shown here if you have a PC with both.
Microsoft says this new interface will “provide more information at a glance about your device’s connectivity, combining several pages to give you one clear view of how you are connected to the internet.”
Windows will also display your data usage for each interface right on this page, so you don’t have to go elsewhere in Settings to see how much data you’re using.
Built-in Support for Network Cameras
Windows 10 is getting built-in support for IP-based cameras that send their video feeds over your local network. Traditionally, you needed third-party software to view these camera feeds on Windows 10.
With this update, you’ll be able to add network-based cameras by heading to Settings > Devices > Bluetooth & other devices > Add Bluetooth or other device. If there’s a supported camera on your local network, Windows 10 will find it, and you can add it to your system in one click.
Once it’s added, you can use the built-in Camera app (and other Camera apps) to access the network camera. For now, Windows 10 only supports standards-compliant cameras that use ONVIF Profile S.
Better Control Over Restarting Apps at Sign-in
Windows 10 automatically reopens many applications, including Google Chrome, after you restart your PC. There’s now a new option that more easily lets you disable this.
To find this option, head to Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options. Under Restart apps, toggle “Automatically save my restartable apps when I sign out and restart them after I sign in” if you’d like to turn this off.
Previously, this option was somewhat hidden and merged with the “Use my sign-in info to automatically finish my device” option, which read “Use my sign-in info to automatically finish setting up my device and reopen my apps after an update or restart.” These are now two separate options.
This feature now works a bit better, too. It now restarts “the majority of” UWP apps as well as traditional Windows desktop apps.
Disk Cleanup Won’t Delete Your Downloads Folder
Microsoft is removing the Downloads folder from the classic Disk Cleanup application. This option was added to Disk Cleanup with the October 2018 Update. Critics said that it was too easy to accidentally delete all the files in your Downloads folder, especially if you’re an experienced user who didn’t realize that option had been added to Disk Cleanup.
With this update, the Downloads folder vanishes from Disk Cleanup. You can still use Disk Cleanup to empty your Recycle Bin, delete temporary files, remove old Windows installations, and everything else—but the short-lived Downloads option vanishes.
The option to clean up your Downloads folder lives on in Storage Sense, available at Settings > System > Storage > Configure Storage Sense or run it now. It’s just gone from the classic Disk Cleanup interface.
Paint and WordPad Are Now Optional Features
Microsoft has turned MS Paint and WordPad into “optional features.” Paint and WordPad are still installed by default, but you can uninstall them to free up a bit of space.
Head to Settings > Apps > Apps & features > Optional features, and you’ll see Paint and WordPad alongside other optional features like Windows Media Player.
Microsoft Paint takes up 11.6MB, and WordPad uses 9.11MB, so you won’t free up much space by removing them. Microsoft was originally going to remove Paint from Windows and distribute it via the Store, but it abandoned those plans and even updated Paint with new features.
A Header in Windows 10’s Settings App
Microsoft has been experimenting with a banner in the Settings application for a while, and it came back in 20H1 Insider builds. The new banner appears at the top of the home screen in the Settings window, showing your picture, name, and a link to manage your Microsoft account online. It offers quick links to your OneDrive and Windows Update settings and information about their status.
Thankfully, Microsoft hasn’t included advertising for Microsoft Rewards (formerly Bing Rewards) here this time.
Quick Searches in Search Home
When you open the “Search Home” panel by clicking the search box on the taskbar, you’ll see new “quick searches” at the bottom, giving you one-click access to things like the weather, top news, and new movies.
Bluetooth Swift Pair Improvements
Microsoft is improving Windows 10’s quicker Bluetooth pairing experience, which was previously called Quick Pair and is now apparently called Swift Pair.
When you have a supported device in pairing mode nearby, you’ll see a notification that prompts you to go through pairing. This was added to Windows 10’s April 2018 Update. Now, it’s been further streamlined. The entire pairing process is performed through Windows 10’s notifications with no need to open the Settings app, and one fewer notification is shown. There’s a Dismiss button to close the notification if you don’t want to pair a device, and the notification shows more information about the device’s name and type, if possible.
This still only works with supported devices like Microsoft’s Surface keyboards and mice, but it should hopefully come to more devices in the future, making the Bluetooth pairing process quicker for more PC users.
Text Cursor Indicator
You can now adjust the size and color of Windows 10’s text cursor indicator—that little line that appears to show you where you’re typing in an application.
To find this option, head to Settings > Ease of Access > Text Cursor. Enable the new “Text Cursor Indicator,” choose a size, and pick a color that’s easy for you to see. You can select any custom color you want.
Drag-and-Drop With Your Eyes
Windows 10 has an Eye Control feature that works with certain specific eye-tracking devices. It’s an accessibility feature that lets you control your PC just by moving your eyes around. In the May 2020 Update, eye tracking gets even more powerful. You can now perform a mouse drag-and-drop action just by moving your eyes around.
Language Settings Improvements
Windows 10’s Language settings page at Settings > Time & Language > Language has been reorganized to be easier to use and understand. For example, it now shows you the default selected languages for Windows, apps and websites, your keyboard, speech, and regional settings right at the top of the screen.
This update is packed with better support for non-English languages, too. The SwiftKey touch keyboard’s “typing intelligence” features now support 39 different languages. That means more helpful autocorrect and keyboard text predictions. The improved text prediction even works when you have text prediction enabled for hardware keyboards.
Dictation also gets better. Microsoft now supports more languages when using dictation—to use it, press Windows+H while typing in any text field.
Microsoft has done a lot of work on the East Asian Microsoft Input Method Editors (IMEs). There’s a new Japanese IME and improvements to the Chinese and Korean IMEs.
As usual, Windows 10’s newest update is packed with smaller tweaks and bug fixes. Here are a few:
- New DirectX 12 Features: Windows 10’s 20H1 update includes developer previews of DirectX 12 features like DirectX Raytracing Tier 1.1, DirectX Mesh Shader, and more. Game developers will eventually be able to take advantage of these to improve their games.
- More Kaomoji: Microsoft has added more kaomoji to Windows 10’s emoji panel, which you can open by pressing Windows+. (period) or Windows+; (semicolon.) For example, you’ll now find ヾ(⌐■_■)ノ♪ in the list.
- Mouse Cursor Speed in Settings: Windows 10 now lets you set your mouse cursor speed from within the Settings app at Settings > Devices > Mouse. Previously, this option was only available in the Control Panel.
- Better Account Picture Settings: Windows 10 now makes it easier to set your account picture in Windows and across various Microsoft services. Head to Settings > Accounts > Your Info to set an account picture. When you set a picture here, Windows will now quickly update it both on your local Windows computer and across various Microsoft services—assuming you’re signed into Windows 10 with a Microsoft account.
- Optional Features Gets Better: The Optional Features page under Settings > Apps & Features > Optional Features is getting a better interface. You can now select and install multiple features at once, search available features, and sort them in different ways. You can see the date each feature was installed and view the status of feature installation at the top of this page.
- Wi-Fi Warning Redesign: Microsoft also says it’s changing how open Wi-Fi networks appear in the Wi-Fi list. Windows 10 will no longer display an “Other people might be able to see info you send over this network” warning message before connecting to an open Wi-FI network, which Microsoft says is confusing. Instead, there’s a new icon for secured Wi-Fi networks to more clearly emphasize you should connect to those.
- Accessibility Improvements: Microsoft has also updated the accessibility features with more new options and improvements. For example, there’s a new command in Narrator to give a web page summary (Narrator+S).
- Install MSIX Files Without Sideloading: System administrators will find that installing an MSIX file no longer requires enabling Sideloading in Settings or via Group Policy. Previously, installing these required enabling sideloading—just like on Android. Now, as long as the MSIX file is signed, a Windows 10 system can install it like any other application. Enterprises can still disable this type of sideloading via policy settings, but that’s no longer the default mode.
- Windows PowerShell ISE: PowerShell’s Integrated Script Editor is now a “Feature on Demand.” It remains installed by default, and you can manage it from Settings > Apps > Apps & Features > Optional Features.
Early Summer 2020: A New “Tablet Experience”
Windows 10 has a classic desktop mode and a Windows 8-style Tablet Mode that even hides your taskbar icons by default. That’s not ideal for many people, so Microsoft was testing a new in-between “tablet experience” in development builds of 20H1.
When you’re using a 2-in-1 PC with a touch screen, and you have no keyboard or mouse connected, it can make the traditional desktop interface a bit easier to use. For example, the taskbar icons will be further apart, File Explorer will be optimized for touch, and you can use windows on your desktop.
Microsoft says this isn’t a replacement for Tablet Mode, but convertible PCs will no longer automatically enter Tablet Mode when you remove the keyboard or flip them around. Instead, they’ll enter this new touch-optimized experience. Microsoft is backing off on Tablet Mode on 2-in-1 devices and making the classic Windows desktop easier to use on a touch screen.
This feature was removed before the stable release of 20H1. Microsoft wants more time to work on it says it will arrive as part of a smaller update to the May 2020 update in the “early summer” of 2020.
Canceled: Notepad Updated Through the Store
In a surprising change, Microsoft announced it would move Notepad to the Store back in August. It would now be automatically updated through the Store, allowing Microsoft to update Notepad more frequently than once every six months. You could uninstall Notepad, too.
Notepad would still be installed by default, so not much would change there. Microsoft has been updating Notepad with new features like UNIX line ending support and integrated Bing search. Microsoft wanted to update Notepad even more often.
That was the originally announced plan, anyway. Microsoft changed its mind in December and removed Notepad from the Store. Nothing has changed with Notepad—for now.
On the Way: Calls in the Your Phone App
Windows 10’s Your Phone app will let you make and receive calls from your PC if you have a phone running Android 7 or a newer version of Android.
Microsoft was testing this feature in 20H1 Insider builds but says it will come to all PCs running Windows 10 19H1 (the May 2019 Update) or a newer version. You’ll get this feature even if you don’t upgrade to Windows 10 version 2004.
Already Here: Online File Search in File Explorer
This feature first appeared in Insider builds of Windows 10’s 20H1 update, but it became available to everyone as part of the prior November 2019 update.
In both versions of Windows 10, File Explorer has a new search experience. When you type in the search box, you’ll see a dropdown menu with a list of suggested files. It will also search for files in your OneDrive account online—not just files on your local PC.
You can still access the more powerful, classic search experience by pressing Enter. This will allow you to search non-indexed locations, for example.
Microsoft has been focused on polish and bug fixes for months prior to the May 2020 update’s release. We’re hoping this should be a solid, stable operating system because of all that development effort.
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