Microsoft’s Windows 10 May 2019 Update offers some badly needed improvements to Windows Update, a significantly speedier search function, and troubleshooters that solve problems by themselves. There’s even an updated emoji keyboard with symbols and the more sophisticated kaomoji (❁´◡`❁). The very best feature, however, may be the cool new Windows Sandbox.
The May 2019 Update (also referred to as 19H1 or version 1903) may not officially be pushed for your PC until later in May, but it’s already available if you wish to manually download it via Windows Update. We’ve also compiled another roundup of the greatest hidden features of the Windows 10 May 2019 Update that lurk beneath what we’ve discussed here, together with a better Focus Assist and reserved storage.
Windows Sandbox: A secure space for new apps
Windows Sandbox stands out as a secure lockbox for testing new apps and sites-but only if you’re running Windows 10 Pro. If you’re familiar with Windows 10 Pro, you’re aware that virtualization is one of the key differentiatiors-everything from the full-fledged Hyper-V virtual machine, up to the more purpose-driven WDAG secure browser. Sandbox is somewhere in the middle: It’s a simplified, protected, virtual “Windows PC” that lives in your actual, physical PC.
You’ve already learned not to wreck havoc on an application that might be malware-the same applies to a website. Sandbox changes the sport. You can now open a suspicious entity within Sandbox. If it’s malware, it’ll remain trapped inside the Sandbox virtual environment-and once you close the app window, everything disappears, permanently. There’s one exception: If you copy a downloaded file out of Sandbox and into your PC, it remains. You’ll need to be sure you haven’t downloaded any malware. But that’s the entire point of Sandbox.
Sandbox carves out a slice of your CPU and memory to operate, so how fast your PC performs will affect Sandbox’s performance. But it’s a great tool for testing that “system utility” that’s giving you some bad vibes, or just browsing securely that you probably shouldn’t go. (It doesn’t anonymize you, though, so beware.)
Desire a deeper dive on Windows Sandbox? Take a look at our Windows Sandbox tutorial for more.
Windows Update tries a lot harder
Each year, twice yearly, a new raft of videos surfaces showing how Windows Updates trash gaming sessions, livestreams, presentations, and more. Microsoft’s listened making improvements. A new icon appears on your taskbar when an update that needs a reboot is imminent, while a redesigned Settings page puts the “pause updates” option front and center. Finally, a smarter Active Hours option debuts, using AI to figure out when you’re least prone to make use of your PC.
The addition of an “update imminent” aware of your taskbar is slap-your-head obvious, and will certainly help mitigate the shock users can seem to be in an unexpected update. (Browsers like Chrome already make use of a similar icon.) It’s an apparently small but very welcome new feature of the Windows 10 May 2019 Update. (It should be on by default, but you can check Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update > Advanced Options to make sure.)
I’m less sure about the new option to “automatically adjust active hours with this device based on activity” (Settings > Update & Security > Change active hours). Though I move backwards and forwards between “production” and Insider machines, Windows’ AI thought that my current active hours were between 10 PM and 11 PM-instead of all of the hours spent during normal business hours using that PC. You can click on the Change link to open up a menu to change the Active Hours yourself, but Microsoft could better inform users on how to fix it.
Kaomoji and symbols arrive ╰(*°▽°*)╯
Adding emoji to the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update was one of its underrated achievements. By simply typing WIN+; (a bit of emoji humor by Microsoft) you could open the emoji keyboard, quickly and easily adding emoji to the app. Now you can perform the same goes with kaomoji and symbols, adding two stronger means of expression to Windows. Don’t forget that Emoji 12 icons are actually here, too: yay, flamingos!
What’s a kaomoji? Essentially, they’re a longer, more complex emoticon, utilizing the same mixture of punctuation symbols to create modern-day patterns. You might be familiar withas well as the “angry glare” ಠ_ಠ symbols. There’s additionally a tab for dedicated symbols, too, such as currencies.
Be aware that while the emoji portion of the keyboard includes a search function at the top, the kaomoji tab lacks anything similar-well, aside from an equally arcane tabbed interface at the bottom, that is kind of chaos to use. There’s also a very thin scroll bar to the right from the emoji keyboard that provides more choices. On my small machine, though, moving the whole keyboard around was extremely laggy.
Unfortunately, as you may see within this story, not every app treats the kaomoji as a single word. A few of the effect thus remains lost if it’s split up over more than one line. Nevertheless, typing the Windows key and a semicolon (or period) opens the laptop keyboard. It’s Super Cool ®™‼
Search separates, speeds up
Aesthetically, another major shift within the Windows 10 May 2019 Update is Microsoft’s decision to give Windows Search pride of place, and sideline Cortana. Previously, looking box served being an access point to your day, tapping Cortana in summary your calendar when you visited the empty search box.
Now, both traditional search and Cortana shortcuts (Win + S, Win+C) open the search box. Microsoft may be tacitly telling you to make use of “Hey Cortana” to orally command your PC, however in a global that’s increasingly frowning on something as basic like a voice call, will this selection really be used? I’m doubtful.
You’ll notice equal tension between this new Search engine and also the more traditional way of hunting down files on your computer, File Explorer. Windows Search really wants to be your gateway to any or all the information on your PC as well as in the OneDrive cloud.
You are able to accelerate looking function using a new Windows Search indexer (Settings > Search > Searching Windows). Automatically, only your document libraries (Pictures, Documents, etc.) are searched, however, you may as well as turn on Enhanced mode to index your entire PC. Indexing isn’t particularly quick, although it sucked up only 10 % of my Surface Laptop’s CPU power.
There’s a catch, though. While Windows Search hunted down photos and documents very quickly, it tended to disregard the smaller, nitty-gritty configuration files of a particular keyword. Windows will surface them a lot more readily using File Explorer, accessible through the (slightly redesigned) folder icon in your taskbar. File Explorer, however, excludes any email and web searches. It’s also as dog-slow as ever, with no apparent benefit from the Windows Search indexing.
If your user looks for “HoloLens,” so how exactly does Windows determine if a user is trying to find photos and documents, and never the HoloLens configuration files? If Windows fails to surface personal files the consumer wants, or clutters in the search results with unnecessary fluff, the result is exactly the same: an irritated user.
Microsoft has long tried to offer different modalities (pen, voice, touch, etc.) as methods to communicate with Windows. A number of that may be happening here. If that’s true, though, Microsoft needs to do a better job of explaining what each search tool does, and improve the performance of File Explorer, too.
New passwordless, PIN options struggle to simplify logins
Windows has traditionally given you the option of either logging in to a PC having a “local account” or password, or having a more full-featured Microsoft account ID that manages the information you’ve stored in the cloud. The May 2019 Update adds a brand new twist: a “passwordless” account that utilizes your cell phone as an authentication device. Though Microsoft hasn’t really said why it added this third option, presumably it’s to fulfill the younger mobile-first workers who don’t want to be tied down to a formal Microsoft account.
For the time being, a passwordless account can’t be created on the PC. Microsoft recommends that you instead download a mobile Office app like Word, then make your new account ID by keying in your mobile phone number instead of their email. Confirmation, after which authentication, takes place via SMS codes sent to your phone.
When you log in to your PC using the new account, though, Windows will encourage you to use a PIN or Windows Hello, as you normally do. (Microsoft believes that a PIN is stronger than a password.)
The issue is the fact that some services, like OneDrive, still request a Microsoft account. When I put in my mobile number, the service failed to send a notification to my phone. Okay. For now, I’ll keep to the traditional method of logging into Windows.
A brand new, separate PIN recovery feature that Microsoft put into the Windows 10 May 2019 Update works, though you’ll need a linked phone and the Microsoft Authenticator app. Windows already provides a multitude of ways to log in (passwords or a biometric login, in addition to PIN comprised of numbers and/or letters) so there are options if you’ve forgotten one of them. Now, should you forget your PIN, Windows checks to see if you have a phone associated with your account and supplies you with an authentication notification before it allows you to definitely reset your PIN. Simple, right? It will work, although the process feels somewhat slower and laggier than it should.
Automated troubleshooting does more without anyone’s knowledge
Microsoft has quietly begun sprinkling artificial intelligence into as numerous nooks and crannies as it can certainly, and Windows 10’s May 2019 Update is no exception. Microsoft already were built with a troubleshooting feature built into Windows 10: an automatic method that you can launch in response to particular problem, for example an inability to connect to the web. Now Microsoft will take that decision from your hands, launching that troubleshooter autonomously with Recommended Troubleshooting.
We couldn’t test this, as our test PC didn’t suffer any issues that Microsoft could, or thought it might, fix. You’re not supposed to notice, though, that Microsoft takes additional control: Recommended Troubleshooting works quietly without anyone’s knowledge. “These are changes you won’t notice,” Microsoft says. “Critical troubleshooting happens automatically and can’t be switched off.”
Recommended Troubleshooting will even surface problems that may “impact your experience,” and these will be optional fixes that you can decide to let Microsoft notify you about. In Settings > Privacy > Diagnostics & Feedback > Recommended troubleshooting, you can order Windows to notify you when your PC has issues that need fixing, and have Windows just fix them automatically without anyone’s knowledge.
There’s one catch: Recommended Troubleshooting is most effective if you send “full” diagnostic data to Microsoft-typing, speech, the works. If you refuse, the troubleshooter won’t act as along with it could.
Chrome support helps complete Timeline
Microsoft has previously bet heavily on features it thought would resonate with consumers, but didn’t: mixed reality, for example. Timeline, a feature first introduced within the May 2018 Update, might be another. Essentially, Timeline is a superpowered web history. However, rather than tracking the web pages your browser visited, it tries to note everything you’ve touched, including the apps and documents you’ve interacted with over yesteryear days and weeks.
Tracking your web browsing has been historically restricted to Microsoft Edge. Now Timeline tracks Chrome as well, having a Chrome extension you’ll have to download in the Chrome Online store. You’ll still need to dig to locate Timeline’s good reputation for Chrome sites, by clicking the Timeline icon right of the Cortana icon around the Taskbar, after which clicking the small “See all XX activities” right from the “Earlier Today” header. (Timeline doesn’t track sites you’ve viewed in Incognito Mode.)
We considered adding this to the list of “hidden features” inside the May 2019 Update. But this really closes it on Timeline, a significant component of earlier feature updates and much more of an afterthought in the present release.
A revamped Light Theme
We initially left out the updated light theme from your review, if perhaps because a light theme had already been a part of Windows, combined with the popular dark theme. However the reworked light theme (Settings > Personalization > Colors) now adjusts the machine colors to more consistently lighten them up.
App updates hide within Windows
App updates was once part of new Windows 10 feature updates, because they were more dependent on the services within them. Though app development now largely proceeds independently of Microsoft’s Windows roadmap, it’s still worth taking a look at how key Windows apps have evolved throughout the May 2019 Update development period.
Microsoft warned early on that some of what it really calls “inbox” apps-the simplified versions of Office apps, for example Mail and Calendar, in addition to Photos-had become even more simplified for this release. Fortunately, my beloved Photos app added back its “magic wand” photo-fixing tool that it warned it could remove.
Other changes include:
A redesigned Office app: Microsoft’s “new” Office app didn’t be visible on my Insider machine, though it’s really not that much diverse from the present Office app. Both apps offer the chance to manage installs, pick from among Office apps, and more. The brand new feature appears to be “recommended” documents, in addition to a tab to “discover” documents, perhaps tied to Delve. Microsoft wants to facilitate sharing communal documents, and also the new app seems designed to do that.
Sticky Notes: I don’t personally use Sticky Notes often, preferring other apps instead. With the Windows 10 May 2019 Update, Microsoft is consolidating Sticky Notes in the cloud (at https://www.onenote.com/stickynotes) plus a column of notes on your PC, that also feature a new dark mode. I don’t such as the wherewithal to rearrange the notes. But what Microsoft calls “insights,” such as the app’s capability to recognize a “remind me” note as an actual reminder, remains certainly one of its strongest features.
Mail and Calendar: Previously, Mail and Calendar’s dark mode extended only to your inbox, shifting to a blinding “light mode” when composing a new email. That’s been fixed. But there’s also an option to see emails see how to avoid or dark mode via a new “sun/moon” icon seems in the header bar from the compose pane.
Snip & Sketch: The Windows 10 Snipping Tool includes a warm place in me, but Snip & Sketch will ultimately replace it. I’m liking it more; the interface looks more like a Windows Ink app than other things, but the functionality is largely duplicated. New this time around may be the ability to add a border to your snap of varying thickness and color, to visually delineate a screenshot having a white background. Printing now is easier, too. Both are hidden within the ellipsis menu in the upper right-hand corner.
Your Phone: Since your Phone is part of Windows 10, although not intrinsically associated with it, it’s entirely possible that you’ll begin to see the “screen mirroring” feature for Android devices that debuted late within the Insider process. Essentially, Your Phone provides an easy way to transfer photos back and forth between your phone and PC, while mirroring” enables you to see what it really would display should you have had it in front of you. A “mirrored” phone can’t be seen beyond Bluetooth range, though, which mitigates its appeal somewhat. You’ll also need a supported phone (a Samsung Galaxy or recent OnePlus phone) in addition to a PC with Bluetooth Low Energy capabilities, like a Surface Go. It’s a weird, limiting intersection of hardware, all to save a few seconds taking out your phone.
Though we’ve highlighted some of the top features inside the Windows 10 May 2018 Update above, many more lie within. What we’ve listed below are some of what we’d call the incremental updates: worth mentioning, and nominal improvements.
ethernet settings migrate to Settings: Over time, Microsoft has moved increasingly more functionality from the legacy User interface and into the Settings menu. This trend continues using the ethernet settings.
More apps could be uninstalled: Hate a lot of legacy or irrelevant apps clogging up your Start menu? Now you can uninstall many of these: 3D Viewer (previously called Mixed Reality Viewer), Calculator, Calendar, Groove Music, Mail, Movies & TV, Paint 3D, Snip & Sketch, Sticky Notes, and Voice Recorder.
Right-click to unpin a Start tile: This really is self-explanatory.
“Fix scaling for apps” automatically: If you’ve ever linked to another monitor, you may have received a cryptic message about fixing apps that are blurry (which, to me, never are). Microsoft now just solves any issues it finds, automatically.
Drag-and-drop Fonts: If you want to add fonts to Windows 10 without downloading them directly, there’s an easy way to do it: go ahead and take font file and simply drag it to a landing area inside the Settings > Fonts folder.
Security keys can be set up inside Settings: With increased of a push to include security keys (like Yubikeys) to supplement authentications to WebAuthn, Windows has now managed to get convenient to give a security key, alongside a fingerprint or facial recognition. In fact, the sign-in options in general are simply better organized.
Clipboard history gets compact: Windows Insiders inexplicably voted the more compact Clipboard history their favorite feature. If the tighter organization of content you’ve clipped (CTRL+X) wows you, you’ll love this.
Default sorting within Downloads: If you’re like me, your Downloads (and Pictures) folders continue for miles, often which makes it difficult to find anything. Downloads now separates downloads during the day, highlighting the most recent additions. Interestingly, a currently available option to make dates “friendly” (like Dec. 25, 2019 versus 12/25/2019) isn’t available anymore.
Revamped Protection History: Within Protection History (Settings>Windows Security>Virus and Threat Protection>Protection History), Microsoft has revamped design to inform you any actions that Windows popularized protect your computer. Hopefully there’s nothing here-that’s good! But here’s what Microsoft could show you in case there was an attack.
Conclusion: A light touch
We entered into this review with measured expectations, but we were amazed at how the new update genuinely pushes the PC ahead. True, we have mixed feelings about the separation of Search and Cortana, and the interaction between the Search app and also the more traditional File Explorer. Users will undoubtedly muddle through, though. Features like Windows Update show Microsoft’s finally a little of their criticisms to heart. And hey, kaomoji!
We’re assigning the Windows 10 May 2019 Update a typical score for any middling release. But because of the windmills Microsoft has tilted at previously (mixed reality, for instance) and also the horrendous bugs that overshadowed the final release, a ho-hum feature update isn’t the worst thing on the planet. Maybe Microsoft’s developers will work instead on new things, like the rumored Windows Lite? No matter. Spring is here now: Install the Windows 10 May 2019 Update, have a tour of what’s improved, and move on.