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Windows 10 2004 Reaches Final Stage of Development

The next feature update for Windows 10 is expected to be generally available next month. Dubbed the May 2020 Update, the latest version will deliver a long list of enhancements and new features – but Cortana’s not among them.

The upcoming ninth feature update of Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system is expected to be available next month. Known as Windows 10 2004, the latest version will include more than 60 major additions. While many enterprise IT departments do not migrate or upgrade their users to the latest feature update for Windows 10 when it becomes generally available, Windows 10 2004 might be more ready for primetime compared to its predecessors.

One significant change with this Windows 10 2004 version is the removal of Microsoft’s Cortana digital assistant’s deep integration into the operating system. Cortana is now shipped as an optional Windows Store app that you can include or exclude from your installation, but it is still available for Microsoft 365 subscribers to assist with productivity-related tasks. Quick searches on Windows 10 no longer require Cortana and are performed in Search Home using the shortcut on the Taskbar.

The increasingly popular Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) has also benefited from the lengthened development cycle for this update with a list of close to 120 documented bug fixes and enhancements. Among those tweaks was the release of the second version of WSL alongside improved memory management, an updated Linux kernel, ARM64 support on devices that support virtualization, battery and AC adapter passthrough, Docker Desktop support, and several new WSL commands. You can review all of the user experience changes between WSL1 and WSL2 at the Microsoft Docs website portal for WSL.

Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps can now be set to automatically start when signing into Windows 10 2004. This is like the Start Up folder that used to be available in previous versions of Windows. These apps are triggered and run so they are available to the user after the sign-in process. For enterprises that can be very handy when certain UWP apps are required to be running on user systems. An option to restart open UWP apps on the May 2020 Update was also added so that apps being used by your users can be re-opened after a restart of the system.

Even the 30-year-old Windows Notepad received upgrades for this upcoming update for Windows 10. You can now perform find & replace searches that take into account wrap-around, easier text zoom using the View > Zoom menu or your mouse, the display of line numbers when using word-wrap, plus an indicator to show your current work has not yet been saved. Finally, files in Notepad can now be saved in UTF-8 without a Byte Order Mark to make them backwards compatible with ASCII based text files.

Other enhancements for Windows 10 2004 include:

  • Improved disk usage for Windows Search Indexer including a new File Explorer search experience.
  • Windows Hello PIN available to log into a device in Safe Mode.
  • Ability to connect IP based cameras to Windows 10 devices.
  • Improved Bluetooth pairing through Action Center notifications.
  • Option to name Virtual Desktops which remain persistent across device restarts.
  • Improved tablet experience on 2-in-1 PCs with increased spacing between touch targets.
  • GPU temperature tracking in Task Manager.
  • Calendar items can now be added from the calendar flyout on the Taskbar.
  • Quicker access to Notifications Settings from the Action Center notification toast.
  • Dictation expanded to include 12 new languages (English (Canada), English (UK), English (Australia), English (India), French (France), French (Canada), German (Germany), Italian (Italy), Spanish (Spain), Spanish (Mexico), Portuguese (Brazil), and Chinese (Simplified, China)).
  • Microsoft Sandbox accessibility now includes Microphone support, audio input device configuration options, Ease of Access dialog activation, and keyboard shortcut for entering/exiting fullscreen mode. Configuration files are now supported to tweak vGPU, networking, and shared folders in your instance of Windows Sandbox.

Accessibility has always been a focus for Microsoft and the Windows 10 2004update is no different. In the May 2020 Update, you can now preview changes to the text cursor in settings, there are three new ways to begin reading content using Magnifier, and Narrator can now give page summaries and note popular links while using a new sound scheme that improves on functionality and responsiveness. Eye Control enhancements have also been added to facilitate easier drag and drop, pausing, and switching actions.

Check out our Windows 10 (vNext) Build Tracker

Thanks to extensive iteration over the last 15 months – there have been nearly 55 builds released to testers through the Windows Insider Program, and the final major build spent four months in the Slow Ring receiving security and maintenance updates to stabilize its code base – the May 2020 Update has the potential to be the most stable feature update released for Windows 10 to date. This should be a top consideration as any enterprise looks at testing the new update and considering update options. Even in this current COVID-19-driven work from home environment, there are options for upgrading your users remotely using a tool like Windows Autopilot and Configuration Manager.

While enterprises consider upgrading to Windows 10 2004, development is already underway for the next feature update for Windows 10, but the approach will change slightly. Windows 10 (vNext) will be available to testers in the Windows Insider Program Fast Ring. Once Microsoft is ready to be feature-complete for the next feature update, that branch will be forked out under its codename – in this case 20H2 for this fall’s upgrade – and will continue development towards the release of that update. In the meanwhile, Windows 10 (vNext) will continue to be the branch targeted for the early development of new features and enhancements.

All our current build trackers for these various development branches for Windows 10 are located in our Build Tracking portal

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