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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  • bill44 - Friday, May 24, 2019 - link

    Been waiting since Creators Update for -well, creators update- a proper systemwide colour management that also supports wide colour gamut natively. 3D LUT support would be nice too.

    Never happened, never will. Lots of cosmetic and game focused updates, but nothing substantial. Like an SSD focused file system (only available in the Workstation version of Windows I think)..
  • Alexvrb - Friday, May 24, 2019 - link

    Most of their work was under the hood, yet as typical most people only see the cosmetic changes.

    Their work on implementing Retpoline and Fast Import was a pretty massive undertaking, read their detailed technical articles on the subject.

    The changes to how they manage updates are pretty nice too. I'm not talking about the superficial "you can delay on Home more", but rather the underlying systems were overhauled so more update work can be performed while the system is still up. They also manage Windows/App updates better, so as to not hurt performance when in use.
  • bill44 - Saturday, May 25, 2019 - link

    Thanks Alexvrb
    Interesting and useful. Under hood changes are nice, but it’s time to do something more substantial a user can see and use every day. It’s nearly 2020 and we still forced to use sRGB on our desktops, in a world, where we have P3, Adobe RGB, HDR etc.
    We can take photos in P3, game in HDR, but no seamless way of handling this in Windows. Each app has to do it’s own thing.

    A system wide Rec.2020 support is needed, that can constrain the gamut to sRGB when needed. Calibration should be done once, and all applications should/must take advantage of it.

    I’m all for under the hood updates (visible or not to the user) that benefits us all, but there has to be a time for windows to catch up to the 21st century visuals.
  • valkyrie743 - Friday, May 24, 2019 - link

    was waiting for over a year for tabs in the explorer but i guess that's not happening anymore. not happy
  • DominionSeraph - Saturday, May 25, 2019 - link

    Install Clover.
  • Alien88 - Saturday, May 25, 2019 - link

    Damn, didn't know about Clover, installed it and it is great, thanks for the heads-up!
  • erple2 - Friday, May 24, 2019 - link

    Interesting. This puts the `docker run microsoft/windowsservercore` back into perspective. I wonder if the work they did on that directly contributed to this version.
  • wolfesteinabhi - Saturday, May 25, 2019 - link

    why would they run out of numbers after 2100!!? ..they would still have 14 more years after it to get their shit together!!
  • Brett Howse - Saturday, May 25, 2019 - link

    Fair point!
  • beisat - Saturday, May 25, 2019 - link

    First decent update ever for w10 I think - love the sandbox idea. Can it also be persistent? I basically want docker / containers for windows but for GUI software to isolate some installs

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