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Windows 10’s May update is here. One of the company’s two major feature updates for 2020, it provides plenty of extra functionality for users, although has been plagued with issues since release.

With the 20H2 update on the horizon, Microsoft released a series of bug fixes on 1 October 2020, resolving a number of issues that people have been experiencing in recent months. Among them are fixes for some applications not opening, spatial audio not working and VPN issues. You can see the full list on the Microsoft website. 

When was the Windows 10 May update released?

The Windows 10 May 2020 update was officially released on 27 May. However, Microsoft has gradually been throttling up availability to manage demand, with many devices not being eligible for weeks after. 

ZDNet is reporting that some of Microsoft’s own Surface devices have still not been updated to the latest software, more than six weeks after its initial release. On Microsoft’s official document on the May update, it says ‘This issue was resolved in KB4557957 and the safeguard hold has been removed as of June 29, 2020. Please note, if there are no other safeguards that affect your device, it can take up to 48 hours before the update to Windows 10, version 2004 is offered.’

How to get the Windows 10 May 2020 update

Once your device is eligible for the update, Windows 10 makes it relatively simple to upgrade:

Open Settings and choose Update & Security then Windows Update

  1. Click on the button that says ‘Check for Updates’ and you should see ‘Feature update to Windows 10, version 2004’
  2. Click ‘Download and install now’ to update your device

If you don’t see anything when checking for updates, it might not be quite ready for your device. In particular, older devices may have to wait a little longer for it to appear. 

Alternatively, you can download Microsoft’s update assistant, which will bypass the usual checks and allow you to install it. However, this may leave your PC vulnerable to threats, so we wouldn’t recommend trying it on your main device. 

We’d also encourage caution even when the update is ready for your device, with a series of issues which appear to be associated with the latest version. As such, our advice is to wait until the stability has improved, or risk issues with your device. 

Which devices is the Windows 10 update available on?

Once the update has fully rolled out, the May 2020 update is likely to run on all devices which have Windows 10 currently installed.

Microsoft assures on its website that ‘Windows 10 is designed to deliver updates for the supported lifetime of the device’.

The company would usually announce end of device support long ahead of a major release, so the earliest we’re expecting that to change is for the November 2020 update.

What new features are there in the Windows 10 update?

The 20H1 update is modest by Microsoft’s standards, but there are still several key upgrades to the user experience. 

Reputation-based Protection

Windows 10 has had problems with bugs in recent months, but a new tool should help with the security of the operating system.

As Tech Radar reported, Reputation-based Protection is a new program that will stop malicious programs from being unintentionally installed on your device. This often comes when you download an app and multiple other pieces of software are installed at the same time. 

The new tool will block these by default, giving you control over what is installed on your device. Upon installing the May update, you’ll just have to head to settings to activate it. Choose ‘Update & Security’ – ‘Windows Security’ and choose ‘App & browser control’.

In here, there should be an option for ‘Reputation-based Protection settings’

Update & Security’, then select ‘Windows Security > App & browser control’.

From there, you should see ‘Reputation-based Protection Settings’. Click it, then enable ‘Potentially Unwanted app blocking’ and choose ‘Block apps’ and ‘Block downloads’.

Cortana overhaul

It’s been lagging behind the likes of Google Assistant and Alexa in recent years, and Microsoft has even confirmed that Cortana is no longer competing to be the top virtual assistant. 

With that in mind, it was removed from the Start Menu in the May 2019 update. Cortana remains an important part of the Windows 10 experience, although from May 2020 onwards its services will be available in a standalone app. 

However, as Microsoft reported in an official blog post, Cortana has become much smarter. Some of the most notable improvements include integration with more Microsoft apps and a clear emphasis on productivity. Cortana can still tell a joke or answer trivia using Bing, but its most useful features arise from links to the Calendar, To-Do and Microsoft Office apps. 

As was the case with the mobile app, Cortana is also becoming much more conversational. You’ll be able to type out commands in addition to using your voice too, while the window can be moved around your screen to fit in around your workflow. 

Updated File Explorer

The File Explorer is set for a long-overdue overhaul, although that didn’t arrive in the May update. Instead, there are a handful of noticeable changes, including an improved search function and rounded corners on the window. 

There’s also been plenty of glitches in File Explorer recently, which Microsoft will aim to iron out for a more reliable user experience. 

Changes to tablet mode

With Microsoft’s Surface line leading the way when it comes to 2-in-1 laptops, it’s perhaps understandable that Windows 10 is continuing to tweak its tablet mode. 

The update makes it less intrusive, no longer prompting you to switch to a tablet as soon as you disconnect a keyboard. Instead, it delivers a more intuitive experience for touch, with more spaced out icons and a touch-friendly version of the File Explorer.

Improvements to PowerToys

This is one for the OG Windows fans. Power Toys was reintroduced in 2019, having previously not been available the days of Windows XP. Despite being aimed primarily at power users, various shortcuts and customisation tools can be useful for anyone. 

Among them is the ability to rename files and resize images in bulk, alongside a host of additional keyboard shortcuts. If applied properly, they could be a huge time-saver. 

Check out our guide to PowerToys. 

Big changes in future updates

While they didn’t arrive in the May update, some big cosmetic changes look to be coming to Windows 10 in the near future. 

The Start Menu will be redesigned to look more slick and modern. Live tiles will be refined, while the arrangement of apps will adjust more efficiently according to how you use them. This is one area of the operating system which has received little attention since Windows 10 was launched in 2015, so it’s a welcome update. 

Windows Latest is also reporting that Microsoft has big plans for updates in 2021, which might include the revamped Start Menu. 

Alongside this, Microsoft has revealed brand new icons for some of its most recognisable programs. Office apps, Outlook and Teams all have a clean, fresh new look. It has been important for Microsoft to modernise the look and feel of Windows 10 without losing its identity. 

While issues plagued the May update for weeks, it finally looks stable enough to recommend to all users. Check out four key reasons why you should get the Windows 10 May update.

In the meantime, we’re already looking ahead to the Windows 10 November update. 

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