Mayday! Mayday! The next Windows 10 update is finally on approach to a PC near you

New version of Microsoft's OS shuffles into the Release Preview spotlight

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Microsoft has finally nudged the next version of Windows 10 into Release Preview and given it a name: The Windows 10 May 2020 Update.

This week's build 19041.207 is the lucky winner of the "we think this is the one" prize and received the deeply unimaginative, if inevitable, sobriquet.

Also called Windows 10 2004, but known and loved by Windows Insiders as 20H1, this incarnation of the OS has lurked in testing for an unusually long time and was pretty much done and dusted late last year. Build 19041 was dumped on Fast and Slow Ring Insiders back in December and has enjoyed minor tweaks ever since.

Given the current global situation, the later-than-expected debut is understandable.

What's in the box?

The May 2020 Update has seen Cortana "evolving" away from the general digital assistant role originally planned for the thing and into something a bit more Microsoft 365-shaped. The gang has also worked on improving Windows Search and continued to tidy up the user interface along with daubing the veteran OS with the Fluent Design brush.

While improvements in Bluetooth pairing and virtual desktops are nice to have and the long overdue cloud reset function is most welcome, 20H1 is notable for the inclusion of a Linux kernel in the form of the Windows Subsystem for Linux 2. Where WSL was a compatibility layer, WSL2 uses a lightweight virtual machine to boost both compatibility and performance for Linux developers.

After famously dispensing with a sojourn in the Release Preview ring for The Update Of The Damned (and the subsequent existential crisis that followed), Microsoft has taken a far more cautious and sensible approach with its flagship OS over the last year or so.

The update is only to be pushed to a subset of Release Preview users at first, although Insiders that really want it can manually go looking via Windows Update.

It's a worthy update, and we have to admit through gritted teeth that even the Notepad tweaks are not totally unwelcome. However, if you are one of the dwindling group of Windows Mixed Reality users, the advice from Microsoft is to hold fire. Things might not work, and a fix is expected in early May.

Last-minute showstoppers aside, we'd expect this build to start becoming Generally Available around then as well. ®

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