Windows 10: What to expect in the next two releases
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 two potential features from recent builds are intriguing:
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.
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 August, 2019.
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.
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
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.
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.
Add events right from the Windows Calendar flyout
Instead of the need to open the Mail or Calendar app, you can add to the Calendar app from the flyout in the bottom right-hand corner, right near the Action Center notifications. To be fair, though, the '+' button that's in the same location within the May 2019 Update instantly launches the Calendar in the New event screen, so you're not saving that much time.
We still have many months to go before 20H1 releases, so stay tuned!