Windows 10 May 2019 Update release date, news and features

The Windows 10 May 2019 Update will be the first major update for Microsoft's constantly-evolving Windows 10 operating system this year.

Also known as Windows 10 version 1903 or 19H1, the Windows 10 May 2019 Update is yet another part of Microsoft’s plan of releasing major free tentpole updates that bring new features, tools and apps to Windows 10.

This update will follow in the footsteps of the Windows 10 October 2018 Update. This most recent update brought a number of new features (and bugs) to Windows 10 – even having trouble convincing users to update. These updates, along with others, aren’t strangers to controversy. Still, with the help of updates like this, Windows 10 has reached 800 million users and is being used by more than two thirds of Steam users.

And, the Windows 10 May 2019 Update is starting to look like quite the upgrade. Not only is there a ton of new features coming, like a system wide Light Mode and the ability to pause updates, but we’ve seen rumors that the new Windows 10 build should be able to play native Xbox One games. 

The current plan is to have the Windows 10 May 2019 Update roll out at the end of May, as its name suggests, avoiding some of the awkward problems of the last update. In fact, this update has entered the final stage of its testing, so it really does look like the update will make it out during its titular month for once. 

With the launch of the Windows 10 May 2019 Update approaching, Microsoft has begun releasing early versions to Windows Insiders – who are customers who have signed up to try out the latest version of Windows 10 in a beta state.

Because of this, we've got a good idea of what sort of new features are coming with the Windows 10 May 2019 Update. So, read on to find out all the latest news, features and release date details about the Windows 10 May 2019 Update.

Cut to the chase

Windows 10 May 2019 Update release date

We don't have an official release date for the Windows 10 May 2019 Update, but it looks like Microsoft is aiming to get it out by the end of May, as it has entered the final stage of testing. However, be prepared for the May 2019 Update to be delayed.

That's because last year's April 2018 update only just released in April. After a few delays, it emerged on April 30, which is cutting it a bit fine.

Meanwhile, the October 2018 Update was even more tardy, finally releasing on November 13 – and that's not counting the times the update rollout was paused while Microsoft fixed numerous Windows 10 October 2018 Update problems.

With any major update to an operating system, delays and problems can arise, so the May 2019 release date isn't guaranteed. Luckily, even if it does launch with problems, Microsoft will allow users to delay installing the Windows 10 May 2019 Update.

Given that Microsoft has given it the May 2019 Update title, though, that could mean that it’s finally confident that it will release the update during that month, as it won’t want the embarrassment of releasing a Windows 10 update with an outdated name again.

Windows 10 May 2019 Update name

Previously known as the 'Windows 10 April 2019 Update', Microsoft recently revised that to 'May 2019', and officially it's referred to as 'Windows 10 version 1903' or by its codename Windows 19H1.

The 19H1 codename gave us a clue to the release date and possible name, as it suggests the update will be released in the first half of 2019.

Rumours had been swirling that Microsoft would choose 'April 2019 Update' as the name, following on from its April 2018 Update last year.

Another recent rumor all-but confirms the name of the update as the Windows 10 April 2019 Update, as a reference to the April 2019 Update was spotted in the Windows Powershell tool when the "Get-VMHostSupportedVersion" command is run.

This reference, which was found by Twitter user Tero Alhonen, was the strongest evidence so far that it would be called the Windows 10 April 2019 Update.

Microsoft was apparently running a bit behind schedule, however, and the final name has been revealed to be the 'Windows 10 May 2019 Update'.

At this point, Microsoft looks like it's sticking to that name, and the May release date looks firm – so there isn't much chance it will be delayed until later in the year.

Windows 10 May 2019 Update confirmed features

Because an early version of Windows 10 May 2019 Update is available for Windows Insiders (like ourselves) to try, we've got a good idea of some of the new features that will be heading to Windows 10 with this update.

As always with early versions of these Windows 10 updates, this list doesn't have every new feature, but we'll update it when major new features are announced.

Also, bear in mind that some of these features may be removed from the final version of the Windows 10 May 2019 Update for various reasons.

A new Light theme

The Windows 10 May 2019 Update will bring a new Light desktop theme, making a nice contrast to the Dark theme that we're used to with Windows 10.

Not only does it make the taskbar and Start Menu lighter, but new icons have been created that better suits the new Light theme.

Best of all, you can mix and match parts of the Light and Dark theme to get a look that best suits your tastes.

A better Start menu

Microsoft has continued to tweak the Start Menu, and the changes it's made in the Windows 10 May 2019 are definitely welcome.

First of all, the Start menu when you first use the update is much less cluttered, with tiles and shortcuts for pre-installed apps not taking up as much space.

However, there are still a number of apps and games that come pre-installed, and there are probably some that you don't want to use. With the Windows 10 May 2019 Update, you can now uninstall more pre-installed apps that you used to.

Another notable change comes in the form of switching the Start menu to have its own dedicated process – StartMenuExperienceHost.exe rather than it being hosted by ShellExperienceHost.exe.

That might sound like a complex change under the bonnet, but the only noticeable ramification for the user will be that the Start menu runs more smoothly, and is protected from potential issues which might be caused by other areas of the OS.

The end result is a more reliable Start menu, according to Microsoft, and a more responsive one too, because Start doesn’t suspend itself any longer, so that makes for a slightly quicker launch time.

Chromium-based Microsoft Edge

Microsoft Edge has been struggling to gain a foothold for years now, and the Windows 10 May 2019 Update has a solution. Microsoft’s native browser will now be Chromium-based, which means it will be open sourced, and will have more compatibility with popular websites and plugins.

But, this is more than just a simple port of Chrome, Microsoft Edge has some new features to offer. The biggest of these is the “Internet Explorer Mode.” There’s little love for Internet Explorer, but the fact is that there are plenty of websites out there that are incompatible with modern browsers – this Internet Explorer mode fixes that problem.

There are also new privacy features, a new “Fluid Framework” for developers to create better interactive experiences enhanced by AI and a Collections feature that will let people collect, organize and share content from across the web. 

Cortana is no longer integrated into the search box

In the Windows 10 May 2019 Update, Cortana will be separated from the search box in the taskbar.

As well as splitting search and Cortana on the taskbar, settings for these two have also been split up in Windows 10, along with group policies. 

So now when you click search, you get a straightforward operating system search. And if you want to summon Cortana, you have to use her separate icon. 

Cortana gets smarter 

Microsoft has been working with recent acquisition Semantic Machines, building a new and improved conversational AI technology into Cortana. This tech will help Cortana be more helpful, providing more sophisticated answers rather than unhelpful canned answers to your queries.

If, for example, you’re planning a trip to attend an event, Cortana will reference previous information in order to better suggest flights, hotels, restaurants and more. 

You can now pause updates

The Windows 10 May 2019 Update will allow people using Windows 10 Home edition to pause Windows updates for a set number of days.

This is a very handy feature that allows you a bit of breathing room when an update is released. It gives you time to check out to make sure that the update is working correctly, and if there are issues, you can pause the update until they've been fixed.

In a perfect world, a new Windows update would arrive without any problems, but as we've seen in the past, that rarely happens. This features has been available to Enterprise and professional Windows 10 users, so it's good to see it come to the Home version as well.

Reserved space for updates

One of the more controversial features that the Windows 10 May 2019 Update brings is that it will now reserve 7GB of space on your hard drive which will be used to store temporary files.

While some people may not like Windows 10 helping itself to yet more storage space on your hard drive, the idea is that this will make downloading Windows 10 updates easier in the future, and will prevent people experiencing an error where an update fails to install due to lack of space.

Windows Sandbox lets you experiment

If you're running Windows 10 Professional, then the new Windows Sandbox tool could be of interest. It allows you to easily run a virtualized version of Windows 10 in a window, allowing you to run software and test out settings and code without it affecting your main Windows 10 installation.

This is only a taste of the new features that are coming to Windows 10 with the May 2019 Update. We'll continue to update this list as we discover more.

Helpful error messages 

The Blue Screen of Death is infamous at this point, popping up whenever Windows runs into a critical error, but they’ve never been very useful to average users. But, it looks like that might be changing with the Windows 10 May 2019 Update.

Microsoft is finally changing error messages to be more helpful – they’ll now tell you how to fix the problems. The error message will pop up when a problem is encountered, and users should see options to try and fix it. The error messages will also have a link to a knowledge base, rather than forcing users to rely on Google for answers. 

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