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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  • haplo602 - Friday, May 24, 2019 - link

    how about being able to remove driver updates from auto update ? if you ever had drivers from Windows Update, then reconsidered AFTER a CU, the system will treat those as a part of the base system from that time on ... no way to get rid of them .... Reply
  • KateH - Friday, May 24, 2019 - link

    this. i'm not a huge fan of having to use group policy & registry workarounds to prevent Windows Update from bunging my graphics drivers every time i connect to the internet Reply
  • mikeztm - Friday, May 24, 2019 - link

    They are fixing this the correct way: push every OEM to use DCH driver that is not modified and can be delivered from windows update. So OEM can put their driver customization separate and not affected by update. Reply
  • eastcoast_pete - Sunday, May 26, 2019 - link

    +1 on this. Actually, + 1000. Very annoying when an "update" suddenly renders key peripherals inactive and unrecognized. Happened twice with one setup. Waste of time. Plus, if I could disable automatic driver updates, I just might be okay enabling automatic update on some machines. Without this, no way. Reply
  • Drazick - Friday, May 24, 2019 - link

    I wish they dedicated the next 3-4 releases for only under the hood work:
    1. Reducing the number of background processes and memory consumption.
    2. More modular Windows so user will be able to disable / remove components they don't need and optimize performance.
    3. Optimize the IO stack so we'll have Linux like performance.
    4. Optimize the File System so we'll have Linux like performance.
    5. Ability to remove all pre installed components users doesn't want.

    We want to be able to make Windows lean and efficient.
    Reply
  • sorten - Friday, May 24, 2019 - link

    Just curious, what performance metrics or tools are you using to measure the relative performance of the IO stack and file system between Windows and Linux? Reply
  • notashill - Friday, May 24, 2019 - link

    I've never run detailed benchmarks or anything but my usual experience is that anything that has to access a bunch of small files (software compilation, extracting zips, etc.) takes something like 5-10x longer on Windows than Linux on the same hardware if it has an SSD. It's pretty ridiculous. Not much difference when hard drives are involved though. Reply
  • imaheadcase - Friday, May 24, 2019 - link

    Thats more the UI stalling though that file system itself. Windows has always had a bad habit of not actually reporting correct numbers when transferring or doing tasks that appear on the actual screen. I often will move files around and UI will often hang for a bit and instantly show up correctly. Not saying its not slower, just saying the UI makes it a lot tricker to actually know. Reply
  • Drazick - Saturday, May 25, 2019 - link

    We are talking about compilation. You can time when you started and when it is done. There is a big difference and Linux is faster. You can have a look on some tests made on Phoronix. Reply
  • leexgx - Saturday, May 25, 2019 - link

    The delays will be when the antivirus is scanning the file its trying to copy (I norm just turn off antivirus scanner if I am doing large amount of files) Reply

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