Windows 10 May 2020 update: Everything you need to know


The Windows 10 May 2020 Update will be rolling out this month.

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Microsoft’s Windows 10 ($151 at Amazon) May 2020 Update is now generally available to download, with several new features to help with productivity, security and speed. The update — also known as Windows 10 versions 2004 and 20H1, and formerly referred to as the April 2020 Update — began rolling out to mainstream users on Wednesday, a day earlier than expected. 

Read more: How to upgrade to Windows 10 for free

Windows 10 is now on more than 1 billion devices worldwide, Microsoft said in March. Now that support for Windows 7 is officially over, Microsoft is encouraging people to either upgrade their PC to Windows 10 to keep it running smoothly and securely or to buy a new computer

Major refreshes to the OS come about every six months, with the most recent being the November 2019 update. Early reports from our sister site ZDNet are that the latest update — previously available as a preview release — takes anywhere from 7 to 17 minutes to install. 

Here’s what we know about the Windows 10 May 2020 update, and how to download it to your device. This story is updated with current information.  

Read more: The best antivirus protection of 2020 for Windows 10  

When will the Windows 10 May 2020 Update be available? 

For those in the Windows Insider Program, the May 2020 Update has been available as a preview release for about a year (again, it was originally referred to as the April 2020 update, but given the coronavirus pandemic, its release was pushed back). 

The final version became available to mainstream users on Wednesday. 

How do I download the Windows 10 May 2020 Update? 

If you want to install the May 2020 Update, do the following, according to a Windows blog post

Go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update, and select Check for updates

Once the update appears, select Download and install. (If you don’t see the option to download and install, the update may not have rolled out to you just yet, but you should keep checking back over the next few weeks. Or it might be a compatibility issue with your device — the update is available for devices running Windows 10 version 1903 or version 1909.)

Once the download is complete and the update is ready to install, you’ll get a notification from Microsoft so that you can choose the right time to finish the installation and reboot your computer. 

What new features does the May 2020 update include?

The Windows 10 May 2020 update includes a number of changes, according to Microsoft, such as: 

  • Cortana: Microsoft says Cortana is evolving into a “personal productivity assistant” that can help you use Microsoft 365 apps. Cortana will be undocked from the taskbar, so you can move or resize it like any other app. You can use the assistant to open apps and adjust settings like brightness. An improved email feature lets you use Cortana to create emails (for example, you can say, “Send an email to Mary letting her know I’m running late,” or, “Show me emails from Jeff”). You can use also it in the calendar to create and ask about meetings.
  • Search Home: Adds four quick searches to your Search Home for easier access: weather, top news, today in history and new movies. 
  • Kaomoji: The keyboard shortcut gets kaomoji — like ¯_(ツ)_/¯ — talong with other emoji.
  • Virtual desktops: You can rename your virtual desktops, instead of getting stuck with the system-issued names like Desktop 1. 
  • Automatically open apps: You can opt in to a setting to automatically open Universal Windows Platform apps after you restart your machine. 
  • Bluetooth pairing: Pairing Bluetooth devices with your machine will occur through notifications, so you won’t need to go to the Settings app to finish pairing. 
  • New tablet experience for two-in-one convertible PCs: Available in beta for Windows Insiders, when you detach your two-in-one‘s keyboard you’ll keep the familiar look of your desktop without interruption, while still optimizing the screen for touch. 
  • New DirectX 12 Ultimate features provide smoother graphics for PC gaming. 

Read more: Here’s the best way to set up your new PC or laptop

Will previous versions of Windows 10 still work? 

Microsoft will end support for Windows 10 1809 (also known as the October 2018 update) for Home, Pro, Pro Education and Pro for Workstations editions in November. (Support was originally scheduled to end in May, but again, Microsoft delayed this due to the impact of the coronavirus.) Support for Enterprise and Education editions will last until May 2021. 

You can still use version 1809, but the loss of Microsoft support means you will no longer get important security patches or other updates. 

Read more: 20 pro tips to make Windows 10 work the way you want (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Do I have to update to the May 2020 version? 

Nope. Microsoft recommends that you update, of course, but it’s not mandatory — unless you’re about to hit an end-of-service date for the version you’re currently running. You can find out more about the update process on ZDNet.

To see which version of Windows 10 you have, go to Settings > System > About and scroll to Windows Specifications, where you’ll find the edition and version number. 

If you have version 1903 (released in May 2019) and want to keep it, you have until December before support ends. And if you have version 1909 (released in November 2019), you have until May 2021 to update. 

What else?

In a recent blog post, Panos Panay, Microsoft’s chief product officer of Windows and devices, gave an update on the Windows 10X operating system. The OS, announced last year, was designed to work with new dual-screen Surface Neo devices, which are not yet available. However, given the changes in the world and the fact that most people are sticking to more typical laptops and two-in-one devices right now, Microsoft will move the focus of Windows 10X to single-screen devices instead, Panay wrote. 

“With Windows 10X, we designed for flexibility, and that flexibility has enabled us to pivot our focus toward single-screen Windows 10X devices that leverage the power of the cloud to help our customers work, learn and play in new ways,” Panay wrote in the post. “These single-screen devices will be the first expression of Windows 10X that we deliver to our customers, and we will continue to look for the right moment, in conjunction with our OEM partners, to bring dual-screen devices to market.”

For more, check out Windows 10 tips and tricks and 6 simple security changes all Windows 10 users need to make

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