Microsoft is already working on Windows 10’s 20H1 update. Expected sometime around April 2020, this will likely be Windows 10 version 2003. It’s much bigger than the upcoming 19H2 update but still feels like a collection of useful improvements.
A New Cortana Experience (With Typing)
Microsoft is advertising a “new Cortana experience” with a “brand-new chat-based UI.” You can now type queries to Cortana rather than say them out loud. The history of your conversation with Cortana will appear as if it was a chat window, so you can see the results of recent queries just by opening Cortana from the taskbar.
Beyond the new design, Microsoft says it has “updated Cortana with new speech and language models” as well as “significantly improved performance” of the voice assistant. It supports both Windows 10’s light and dark themes, too.
Cloud Download for Reinstalling Windows
Windows 10 has a new “Cloud Download” option you can use when resetting your PC to a default Windows system. When you head to Settings > Update & Security > Recovery and choose to reset your PC and remove everything, you can now tell Windows to use “Cloud Download.” Rather than reinstalling Windows 10 from the files on your local system, Windows will download the most up-to-date version of Windows 10 and install it on your system.
This will save time on updates afterward. Previously, the only way to do this was to either update Windows 10 before “resetting” your system or by creating new Windows 10 installation media.
Online File Search in File Explorer
File Explorer has a new search experience. When you type in the search box, you’ll see a dropdown menu with a list of suggested files. It will also search for files in your OneDrive account online—not just files on your local PC.
You can still access the more powerful, classic search experience by pressing Enter. This will allow you to search non-indexed locations, for example.
Bandwidth Limits for Windows Update
The Settings app now gives you more control over how much bandwidth is used for downloading Windows updates. In current versions of Windows, you can set a bandwidth limit as a percentage of your bandwidth. Windows 10 20H1 will let you set a precise “Absolute bandwidth” limit in Mbps for more accurate throttling of downloaded updates. This option was previously available in Group Policy but is now available to everyone in Settings.
To find the update bandwidth limiting options on any version of Windows 10, head to Settings > Update & Security > Delivery Optimization > Advanced options.
WSL 2 With a Linux Kernel
The new Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) is probably the most important feature in Windows 10 20H1. This is WSL version 2, and it’s even more powerful than the first version. WSL 2 uses a real Linux kernel to provide an even more powerful, more full-featured Linux environment on Windows 10.
Microsoft will build its own Linux kernel and ship it with WSL 2, and that Linux kernel will be updated through Windows Update. You can also build your own Linux kernel and make Windows 10 use it. You don’t have to think about any of this, though—WSL 2 has the same user experience as WSL 1 and will “just work” without any extra configuration.
WSL 2 promises “dramatic file system performance increases” and “full system call compatibility.” That compatibility means support for technologies like Docker that wouldn’t run on the original WSL 1.
Disk Type in the Task Manager
Windows 10’s Task Manager now displays your disk type—SSD or HDD. This makes it easier to see what hardware is in your computer, and it can help you tell which disk is which if you have multiple disks in your system.
This information is displayed on the Performance tab. Open the Task Manager (Ctrl+Shift+Esc) and click “More Details” to find it.
GPU Temperature in the Task Manager
That’s not the only new feature the Task Manager is getting. The Task Manager’s performance tab will also display your GPU temperature, too. Assuming you have a graphics card with a new enough driver—it must support the WDDM 2.4 driver model—you’ll find this information on your GPU’s status page under the Performance tab, too. This also only works with dedicated graphics cards, not integrated or onboard GPUs.
This is just the latest GPU-monitoring feature in the Task Manager. Previous updates added features like per-process GPU usage, overall GPU usage display, graphics driver version information, graphics memory usage, and hardware details.
A New “Tablet Experience”
Windows 10 has a classic desktop mode and a Windows 8-style Tablet Mode that even hides your taskbar icons by default. That’s not ideal for many people, so 20H1 is adding a new in-between “tablet experience.”
When you’re using a 2-in-1 PC with a touch screen, and you have no keyboard or mouse connected, it can make the traditional desktop interface a bit easier to use. For example, the taskbar icons will be further apart, File Explorer will be optimized for touch, and you can use windows on your desktop.
Microsoft says this isn’t a replacement for Tablet Mode, but convertible PCs will no longer automatically enter Tablet Mode when you remove the keyboard or flip them around. Instead, they’ll enter this new touch-optimized experience. Microsoft is backing off on Tablet Mode on 2-in-1 devices and making the classic Windows desktop easier to use on a touch screen.
Notepad Updated Through the Store
In a surprising change, Microsoft has moved Notepad to the Store. It will now be automatically updated through the Store, allowing Microsoft to update Notepad more frequently than once every six months. You can uninstall Notepad, too.
Notepad is still installed by default, so not much has changed there. Microsoft has been updating Notepad with new features like UNIX line ending support and integrated Bing search. Now, Microsoft wants to update Notepad even more often.
Windows Lets You “Make Your Device Passwordless”
Microsoft new lets you “Make your device passwordless” with a new option on the Settings > Accounts > Sign-in page. It sounds awesome and futuristic, but really it’s just a new setting that requires everyone on your PC sign in with a PIN or another Windows Hello sign-in method like face or fingerprint unlock.
Renaming Virtual Desktops
Windows 10’s virtual desktops, available in the Task View interface that appears when you press Windows+Tab on your keyboard or click the Task View icon on the taskbar, are getting more configurable.
Rather than being stuck with the default names of “Desktop 1,” “Desktop 2,” and so on, you can now rename them. Microsoft says you can simply click the name of each virtual desktop at the top of the Task View interface, but this didn’t work for us yet. Maybe it’s still in development.
As Microsoft points out, you can even use emojis in the names. Just press Windows+. (period) to open the emoji picker and enter an emoji. This emoji panel works in nearly any text field in Windows 10.
Improved Network Status Information
The network status page at Settings > Network & Internet > Status has been redesigned. It now shows all the network interfaces you have available at the top of the page. For example, both Wi-Fi and Ethernet will be shown here if you have a PC with both.
Microsoft says this new interface will “provide more information at a glance about your device’s connectivity, combining several pages to give you one clear view of how you are connected to the internet.”
Windows will also display your data usage for each interface right on this page, so you don’t have to go elsewhere in Settings to see how much data you’re using.
Better Control Over Restarting Apps at Sign-in
Windows 10 automatically reopens many applications, including Google Chrome, after you restart your PC. There’s now a new option that more easily lets you disable this.
To find this option, head to Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options. Under Restart apps, toggle “Automatically save my restartable apps when I sign out and restart them after I sign in” if you’d like to turn this off.
Previously, this option was somewhat hidden and merged with the “Use my sign-in info to automatically finish my device” option, which read “Use my sign-in info to automatically finish setting up my device and reopen my apps after an update or restart.” These are now two separate options.
A Header in Windows 10’s Settings App
Microsoft has been experimenting with a banner in the Settings application for a while, and it’s back in 20H1 Insider builds. The new banner appears at the top of the home screen in the Settings window, showing your picture, name, and a link to manage your Microsoft account online. It offers quick links to your OneDrive and Windows Update settings and information about their status.
Thankfully, Microsoft hasn’t included advertising for Microsoft Rewards (formerly Bing Rewards) here this time.
Text Cursor Indicator
You can now adjust the size and color of Windows 10’s text cursor indicator—that little line that appears to show you where you’re typing in an application.
To find this option, head to Settings > Ease of Access > Text Cursor. Enable the new “Text Cursor Indicator,” choose a size, and pick a color that’s easy for you to see. You can select any custom color you want.
Drag-and-Drop With Your Eyes
Windows 10 has an Eye Control feature that works with certain specific eye-tracking devices. It’s an accessibility feature that lets you control your PC just by moving your eyes around. In 20H1, eye tracking gets even more powerful. You can now perform a mouse drag-and-drop action just by moving your eyes around.
Language Settings Improvements
Windows 10’s Language settings page at Settings > Time & Language > Language has been reorganized to be easier to use and understand. For example, it now shows you the default selected languages for Windows, apps and websites, your keyboard, speech, and regional settings right at the top of the screen.
This update is packed with better support for non-English languages, too. The SwiftKey touch keyboard’s “typing intelligence” features now support 39 different languages. That means more helpful autocorrect and keyboard text predictions. The improved text prediction even works when you have text prediction enabled for hardware keyboards.
Dictation also gets better. Microsoft now supports more languages when using dictation—to use it, press Windows+H while typing in any text field.
Microsoft has done a lot of work on the East Asian Microsoft Input Method Editors (IMEs). There’s a new Japanese IME and improvements to the Chinese and Korean IMEs.
As usual, Windows 10’s 20H1 update is packed with smaller tweaks and bug fixes. Here are a few:
- Mouse Cursor Speed in Settings: Windows 10 now lets you set your mouse cursor speed from within the Settings app at Settings > Devices > Mouse. Previously, this option was only available in the Control Panel.
- Better Account Picture Settings: Windows 10 now makes it easier to set your account picture in Windows and across various Microsoft services. Head to Settings > Accounts > Your Info to set an account picture. When you set a picture here, Windows will now quickly update it both on your local Windows computer and across various Microsoft services—assuming you’re signed into Windows 10 with a Microsoft account.
- Optional Features Gets Better: The Optional Features page under Settings > Apps & Features > Optional Features is getting a better interface. You can now select and install multiple features at once, search available features, and sort them in different ways. You can see the date each feature was installed and view the status of feature installation at the top of this page.
- Wi-Fi Warning Redesign: Microsoft also says it’s changing how open Wi-Fi networks appear in the Wi-Fi list. Windows 10 will no longer display an “Other people might be able to see info you send over this network” warning message before connecting to an open Wi-FI network, which Microsoft says is confusing. Instead, there’s a new icon for secured Wi-Fi networks to more clearly emphasize you should connect to those.
- Windows Search Speedup: Windows search will get faster on developer PCs by default, too. The Windows search indexer will now “exclude common developer folders, such as .git, .hg, .svn, .Nuget, and more by default.” Performance will improve while compiling and synchronizing code.
- Accessibility Improvements: Microsoft has also updated the accessibility features with more new options and improvements. For example, there’s a new command in Narrator to give a web page summary (Narrator+S).
- Install MSIX Files Without Sideloading: System administrators will find that installing an MSIX file no longer requires enabling Sideloading in Settings or via Group Policy. Previously, installing these required enabling sideloading—just like on Android. Now, as long as the MSIX file is signed, a Windows 10 system can install it like any other application. Enterprises can still disable this type of sideloading via policy settings, but that’s no longer the default mode.
With so many months left to go, more features will certainly appear in future Windows Insider previews. We’ll update this article as they do.
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