Microsoft streamlines 19H2 builds as Windows 10's fall update nears

The official rollout of Windows 10 is expected around October.

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With a month or so to go before Microsoft drops the scheduled Windows 10 “19H2” update, the company may be signaling that work is winding down.

Recall that Microsoft began setting the stage for 19H2 in July, positioning the fall update not as a “feature release” of major changes, but instead a group of “select performance improvements, enterprise features and quality enhancements.” It might not be entirely fair to call 19H2 a “service pack,” but that’s probably a close analogy.

Microsoft has been testing 19H2 in what’s known as the conservative “Slow Ring” of the Windows 10 Insider program. Meanwhile, the more adventurous “Fast Ring” has been reserved for the feature-rich update coming next year, known as “20H1.”

We've followed the Insider Builds closely and summarized features we expect to see in WIndows 10 19H2 and 20H1. As of right now, the major 19H2 changes include the ability to allow other digital assistants besides Cortana to live on the lock screen; a rotation policy among “favored” CPU cores, changes to how notifications are displayed in the Action Center, and more. 

A shift in how Microsoft has deployed Windows 10 19H2 in the Windows Insider Slow Ring signals that the company may be preparing to finalize Windows 10's upcoming fall update.  Previously Microsoft performed A/B testing, turning some 19H2 features on for some Slow Ring Insiders, and others off. As of today, the new build, Build 18362.10019, turns on all the features for everyone with a PC that’s part of the Slow Ring Insider program.

That's significant, in our view. If all features are now on for all 19H2 users, a month before the scheduled release, it likely means that Microsoft is winding down 19H2 development. “They [all of the features] are turned on for everyone in the Slow ring now and won’t likely be turned off for anyone in the Slow ring going forward,” Brandon LeBlanc, senior program manager for the Windows Insider program, tweeted in response to a PCWorld question.

The company has yet to announce a “bug bash,” however, where users are asked to test specific features in preparation for a final release. Will 19H2 see such a thing, or does Microsoft’s dev teams feel confident in solving any problems themselves? We’d bet on the former, probably in a week or two. For now, though, anyone and everyone (in the 19H2 Insider track) can test these new features. 

When is 19H2 expected to roll out? Recently Microsoft has added Windows details to its Surface hardware launches, presenting a more holistic view of the Windows ecosystem. With a Surface launch scheduled for early October, Microsoft may formally present the changes due in 19H2 at that event, if not launch it entirely.

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