6 New Things That the Windows 10 May Update Is Bringing Our Way
Shortly before launching Windows 10, Microsoft said that it wants to see the then-new operating system installed on at least one billion devices within three years. These plans, as it turns out, were a bit too optimistic. It's now been close to four years since Windows 10's initial release, and the 1 billion mark is still quite far away. Nevertheless, a couple of months ago, the Redmond-based giant said that Windows 10 is running on more than 800 million devices.
Microsoft not only needs to get more people interested in Windows 10; it also needs to keep quite a few current users happy and prevent them from switching to another platform. Many hopes are put on the upcoming Windows 10 May 2019 update (also known as version 1903 or 19H1) which is supposed to arrive later this month. It's one of the major updates, and Microsoft hopes that the new features it introduces will improve the user experience and will get even more people on board. Today, we'll review the additions to Windows 10 version 1903 that you are most likely to notice. Let's start with a feature that can completely transform the way your operating system looks.
For the last few years, we've seen a trend towards introducing dark themes in software applications. Microsoft hasn't been the exception. With Windows 8 and Windows 10, it made the default look of the taskbar and Start menu (or Start screen, as it was renamed when Windows 8 came out) distinctively darker compared to the previous versions, and it recently included a Dark mode for the File Explorer window. With the May 2019 update, it's introducing a feature which allows users to revert to a lighter appearance.
The light theme affects the Start Menu, the taskbar, and the system windows, and Microsoft's designers have taken care to tweak some of the icons and ensure that they're visible regardless of the theme.
Quite a few people have been criticizing Windows 10 for the amount of storage space it takes up, and if you are one of them, you probably won't be very happy with this particular feature. Reserved storage will take about 7GB of your hard drive and will reserve it for system updates, temporary and cached files.
It sounds like your operating system is just robbing you of more space, but the reality is, allocating storage for this type of data should result in more reliable performance for applications and a smaller likelihood of errors during system updates.
A system tray icon that tells you when an application is using your microphone
This feature is a lot less visible, but it can be much more useful from a security point of view. We've talked about how fraudsters often try to convince victims that they've been spied upon through their device's webcams and microphones, and how this type of emails should never be trusted. The fact of the matter is, however, there are malware families that can surreptitiously use your camera and microphone to record images and sounds.
Most modern webcams have LED indicators which means that you are more likely to notice that someone is using them. Windows 10 version 1903 tries to solve the problem with microphones. Whenever an app starts using your microphone, an icon will appear in the system tray. Hovering over it with your mouse will tell you which app might be recording sound, and clicking on it opens the Settings menu which gives you the chance to react.
When they were presenting the version 1903's features to the members of the Windows Insider program, Microsoft's marketing people said that people should expect a number of improvements to Windows Defender as well as the rest of the operating system's security tools. Among them is a new feature called Tamper Protection which prevents applications from quietly altering Windows' critical security settings. If it's turned on, it will be impossible to make such changes without manually accessing system menus which should make malware creators' job a lot harder.
Windows Sandbox will only be available in the Pro and Enterprise editions of Windows 10, and judging by the system requirements Microsoft has posted, running it on older hardware could be a bit of a struggle. Nevertheless, if you are using Windows' higher-end editions, and if you own a powerful enough computer, you might be interested in knowing what Windows Sandbox does.
It's an isolated desktop environment that lets you run code without interfering with your main operating system. For example, if you're thinking about installing an application or opening a file you're not quite sure about, you can open Windows Sandbox and execute them there. You will get to see how they behave without risking your own configuration. Any changes that are made stay within the Sandbox and are discarded as soon as you close it.
We recently discussed Microsoft's ongoing war on passwords. Bill Gates and his team have taken it upon themselves to come up with a secure solution that will allow us to go about our everyday business without the need to remember or enter any login credentials. With the Windows 10 May 2019 update, it's moving closer to that goal.
Last week, Microsoft announced that the version of Windows Hello that comes with Windows 10 version 1903 will be FIDO2 certified. Introduced in 2015, Windows Hello lets you unlock your Windows PC either with a PIN or via biometrics, and the fact that it has received a certification from The FIDO Alliance means that it now meets some strict standards.
The May 2019 update comes with one more brand new feature that also allows passwordless login. The latest version of the operating system will give you the option of creating a Microsoft account with just your phone number and tying it to your Windows device. A password is not required during the signup process. Instead of it, upon logging in, you will be asked for a code which Microsoft sends to you as an SMS. Initially, this particular feature was supposed to be available only on the Home edition, but Microsoft has now decided that it will be included in all versions of Windows 10 which, we're sure, is making quite a few system administrators very happy.
Of course, Windows 10 May 2019 update will bring a number of other new features that people may like. The way we search through the hard drives of our devices is about to change, for example, and there will be new additions to the Windows Emoji Picker (activated through the Windows + . keyboard shortcut). Make sure you have your automatic updates turned on so that you can enjoy all of the new tools and features.