This week, Microsoft officially rolled out the Windows 10 May 2019 Update to the world. However, due to some recurring issues over the last couple of updates, the company is thankfully taking a very measured approach this time. An approach which will hopefully mitigate some of the update issues that always seem to arise when a major system update comes to software that runs under an almost infinite number of configurations.

With the May 2019 update comes new features, alongside with the usual updates to Windows 10’s look and feel. Today we’ll be going through some of the more important updates in more detail. Windows 10 is now almost four years old though, so the days of feature updates packing in a large number of new ideas are mostly behind us. With Microsoft still committing to updating Windows 10 twice per calendar year, likely everyone would be happy to see these updates be a bit smaller, a bit quicker to install, and a bit less jarring on the other end. Luckily, Windows 10 May 2019 Update seems to fit the bill nicely. The update is quick, and the big changes are going to be mostly cosmetic for most people, although there are a couple of great additions with this rollout as well.

Officially the update is the May 2019 Update, which is as unambiguous as you can get, and hats off to Microsoft for continuing down the road of having to name their updates like they did with the Anniversary Update, the Creators Update, or the Fall Creators Update. May 2019 Update is a perfect name. Internally, this build continues down Microsoft’s path of a build number of the year and month, so the May 2019 Update is Windows 10 1903, meaning the build would have been more or less locked down by March, with only bug fixes after that. This naming scheme of course has the downside that they are going to run out of digits when the year 2100 rolls around, but I suppose they’ll cross that bridge when they get there.

Likely the biggest headline feature for this update is a refreshed look and feel, Microsoft is now offering a new Light theme, which compliments well with the already included dark theme. Although it may seem minor, keeping Windows looking fresh and modern is important, so it’s nice to see that attention is still being paid here. In addition, there’s some new iconography to go along with the new theme.

Once of the most interesting features for this update is Windows Sandbox, which is a Windows OS in a container for testing and running applications. This feature is not available on Windows 10 Home, so developers that think this might be useful will have to ensure they have at least Windows 10 Pro.

Windows 10 Version History
Version Version Number Release Date
Windows 10 Original Release 1507 July 29, 2015
November Update 1511 November 10, 2015
Anniversary Update 1607 August 2, 2016
Creators Update 1703 April 5, 2017
Fall Creators Update 1709 October 17, 2017
April 2018 Update 1803 April 30, 2018
October 2018 Update 1809 October 2, 2018
May 2019 Update 1903 May 21, 2019

Microsoft is also walking back on a few things they’ve done which were done with good intentions, but not executed well enough to not cause pain with users. Cortana is no longer tied to the Windows 10 search. Updates can now be paused for up to seven days even for Windows 10 Home users, and more default applications can be uninstalled.

Let’s dig in.

Light Theme and Start Menu Changes
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  • Brett Howse - Saturday, May 25, 2019 - link

    If you want persistent you'd have to use full Hyper-V which is available on Pro. Docker also works if you'd prefer small footprint. Reply
  • chipped - Saturday, May 25, 2019 - link

    Windows devs are shit, pretty much every app I have on macOS has HighDPI and works perfectly with per monitor awareness.

    I use my 15” rMBP with a FullHD external side by side.

    My colleague has a 4K windows laptop with a FullHD external and he has a horrible experience. He has to change the laptop screen to FullHD so things scale properly.

    It’s been 3 years that’s he’s had this setup, I laugh every time.
    Reply
  • GlossGhost - Saturday, May 25, 2019 - link

    Indeed, they should first fix all the issues that the DWM imposes with varying refresh rate monitors, like crawling back and crippling the higher refresh rate monitors whenever something hardware accelerated is being shown on the lower refresh rate ones. It's really disturbing but luckily it's mostly an issue when playing games, where if you're running with V-Sync off, the high refresh rate monitor doesn't get affected. And that's the culprit, running a wide desktop area over multiple monitors and sharing the same V-Sync on it, not per-monitor.

    Now to follow up on what you said, I also have an issue with Windows not being able to scale dynamically back and forth properly. It seems like they use pixel-based position and scaling on the elements and the tabs in the apps. Let's say an app that uses Windows Forms, scales by default well, putting it up on the DPI slider, makes it so that you need to extend tabs and fields and resize everything in it, so that it looks alright. Well guess what, when you scale back to standard everything needs to be resized and readjusted again. Tray icons still get blurry after multiple re-scales and resolution adjustments as well. Also, restarting explorer doesn't even show all the active apps in the tray.

    Nobody seems to care about those things though.
    Reply
  • leexgx - Saturday, May 25, 2019 - link

    I'll guess I'll check what's changed in six months

    all PCs use pro with none targeted to delay feature upgrades for business use (witch is norm 2-3 months after ms has trashed a bunch of PCs) +100 days on feature upgrades +15 days on security updates as you can't trust ms any more to release a security update correctly any more
    Reply
  • HStewart - Sunday, May 26, 2019 - link

    Wow, Windows Sandbox is by far worth it. Awesome new punctuality.
    From now on my browsing is done in sandbox
    Reply
  • Koenig168 - Sunday, May 26, 2019 - link

    Good article with a lot of useful information. I'll probably update to this version if there are no major bugs uncovered over the next few weeks. Reply
  • B3an - Sunday, May 26, 2019 - link

    This isn't at all a bad article or anything, but with every single article Anandtech posts on these Win 10 updates, you always miss out a ton of new features/changes.

    I'm not saying to cover literally everything, but i wish you'd at least show more of the new stuff and went in to detail on each. It's always hard to find anywhere that covers all or most of the new features in proper detail (like you did with the Windows Sandbox feature for example)
    Reply
  • Kamus - Sunday, May 26, 2019 - link

    "Arguably the biggest feature that most people will see is the new Light Theme. Theming is something that is personal, so either you’ll like it or you won’t, but I think it looks clean and refreshing."

    I see this as a regression. The dark theme should be the default for *any* emissive display. The white background on black text has been a terrible idea since the first day some one thought of it.

    "Oh, let's just emulate a white sheet and black ink!" Except, emissive displays aren't a sheet of reflective paper, you are basically staring at a light bulb.

    With that said, I'm a fan of dark themes, not full black back grounds with a 100% paper white text. Those just look horrible because they often lack a lot of context. I think that dark gray backgrounds, combined with white text is the best way to do dark themes.

    Some people advocate for complete darkness on backgrounds for the sake of battery life on OLED panels, but it's a horrible idea:

    Not only does it look bad in the first place, but it will also cause black smear, and the battery savings are already in place with dark backgrounds anyway.
    Reply
  • zamroni - Tuesday, May 28, 2019 - link

    For peace of mind, postpone the feature update as long as possible (365 days). I stay with 1803 for now. Reply
  • Flunk - Thursday, June 6, 2019 - link

    That "new" search interface looks exactly like the interface you see if you forcibly disable Cortana. This is a real improvement for people who don't know how to hack the registry to get what they want. Reply

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