Windows 10: What to expect in the next two releases

It's still early, but here's what we know.


Today's Best Tech Deals

Picked by PCWorld's Editors

Top Deals On Great Products

Picked by Techconnect's Editors

The next two Windows 10 updates, code-named “19H2” and “20H1,” reflect Microsoft’s recent decision to split the major Windows 10 feature releases into two: a full-fledged update, with new features, and a secondary patch update. We’ve already had the major “19H1” update, known officially as the May 2019 Update, so we’re now looking forward to the minor 19H2 patch and then the major 20H1 feature release. Here’s what we know so far about both of them.

As of July 2019, the upcoming 19H2 feature will focus on “quality enhancements,” while the “20H1” feature will return to more substantive improvements. If the latter hews to Microsoft’s usual schedule, it’ll drop in March or April of 2020. Interim beta builds will provide further hints about what’s coming, and we’ll continue to cover them. Meanwhile, here’s where we stand on each release as of early August:

New features for Windows 10 19H2

Microsoft has aimed the 19H2 release primarily at enterprises, but a few potential features from recent builds are intriguing. We'll also see a number of tweaks to various UI elements.

A change to enable third-party digital assistants to voice-activate above the Lock screen

Previously, Windows 10 voice control was the domain of Cortana. But with Amazon Alexa’s integration into Windows as a Cortana skill, it appears you’ll be able to yell at a laptop or desktop running Alexa, similar to the way you’d command a smart speaker.

A fix to reduce the inking latency based on device capabilities

According to Microsoft, Windows apparently “decided” on its own what the inking latency could be depending on the typical hardware configuration, rather than the actual capabilities of the device. An odd decision to make in the first place, but one that’s apparently been rectified. With the 19H2 release, OEMs will be able to set this themselves. 

Event creation from the Calendar flyout 

If you click on the date and time in your Windows 10 (1903) taskbar, an expanded calendar opens up, along with your schedule for that day. Clicking the small "+" icon opens up the Calendar app itself to add new events. In 19H2, a small flyout will allow you to create new events without needing to open the Calendar app.

Divvying up work among "favored" CPU cores

A CPU may have multiple “favored” cores (logical processors of the highest available scheduling class), according to Microsoft. To provide better performance and reliability, Microsoft has implemented a rotation policy that distributes work more fairly among these favored cores, the company says. That may help the longevity and performance of certain CPUs.

Windows 10 S now supports traditional Win32 apps via InTune

Windows 10 S was originally designed to only apps from the Windows Store, not "wild" Win32 apps from any source. Now there's a compromise: admins will be able to send managed Win32 apps to Windows 10 S machines.

Notifications are better managed

You'll now see the options to turn off a particular app's notifications right from the notifications. Notifications settings under Settings > System > Notifications will now default to sorting notification senders by most recently shown notification, rather than the sender name, according to Microsoft. And a "Manage Notifications" button at the top of the Action Center will launch the Settings page.

File Explorer now integrates with Windows Search

Recall that Microsoft made changes in the May 2019 Update (or 1903) to speed up Windows Search, separating it from Cortana in the process. But File Explorer was left behind. Now, File Explorer will be powered by Windows Search. Microsoft says that it's designed to better integrate search results with OneDrive, though it may improve performance, too.

New features for Windows 10 20H1

Microsoft’s May 2019 Update felt light on new features compared to prior releases. At this point—with many, many months to go—20H1 feels the same. Still, there’s plenty of time for Microsoft to shift gears, especially if the majority of its developers are still fixing bugs in time for the 19H2 release.

For now, there’s a grab bag of upgrades and new additions. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but rather the more interesting features as of September, 2019.

A new tablet experience for 2-in-1 PCs

Microsoft is merging the traditional "tablet" and "desktop" view in 2-in-1 PCs, moving away from a tiled interface to a more traditional "desktop" view, but with additional spacing.

windows 10 new tablet experience Microsoft

Cloud downloads during PC resets

If you like, you now have the option of entirely re-downloading Windows during a reset operation, rather than restoring from a partition.

A new Terminal app and Windows Subsystem for Linux

Because Microsoft is publishing new apps on its own schedule, the new Terminal isn’t specifically tied to any new release. Windows Subsystem for Linux 2, a faster version of WSL1, was released for Windows 10 Pro. Though it was added to the Insider program in June, it’s on the 20H1 track. 

windows terminal large Microsoft

Linux files can now be accessed through the File Explorer within Windows, too, as a separate improvement.

Emoji 12.0 is now fully supported

Though support for Emoji 12 was added as part of the May 2019 Update, it’s now fully supported after Unicode released the final version.

Your Phone now supports Android notifications and backgrounds

The Your Phone app is still somewhat hamstrung by device limitations (though virtually all Microsoft Surface devices can use it), but it can interact with a small cadre of phones that now includes the Samsung Galaxy S10 family, the Note 8 and Note 9, plus the OnePlus 6 and 6T. It now more fully mimics your Android phone, complete with notifications and background images, too.

Microsoft Windows 10 your phone notifications Microsoft

Windows 10’s Your Phone app now supports Android notifications.

Windows Ink links to the Whiteboard app 

Microsoft’s offered some lovely drawing apps (remember Fresh Paint!), but Windows Ink is a tool that’s been ignored as Microsoft focuses on business users. Now, Windows Ink will link more directly to the Microsoft Whiteboard app, and also be able to perform a full-screen screen capture, or snip.

Microsoft Windows 10 windows ink 19h2 Microsoft

We still have many months to go before 20H1 releases, so stay tuned!

This story was updated on Sept. 24 with up-to-date details.

Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon