May 2020 Windows 10 Update: Linux, Ray Tracing, Search Upgrades
We’ve been expecting a new version of Windows 10 in the form of the “2020 H1 update.” Now, Microsoft has officially announced the new version as the “Windows 10 May 2020 Update.” As the name implies, it will start hitting computers next month; unless you want to join the Windows Insiders program. Then you can get the new build right this minute.
Microsoft’s history with Windows 10 updates has been all over the map. Some have included major changes and new features, and others have been comparatively anemic bug fix bundles dressed up as an important update. The May 2020 Update is somewhere in between. There are some significant changes, but not all of them will be apparent to the average user without some additional downloads.
Probably the most notable change in the new Windows 10 build is Microsoft’s Windows Subsystem for Linux 2. It includes a custom Microsoft-developed Linux open-source kernel that integrates with Windows 10. That allows you to run virtualized Linux packages alongside your Windows applications with much greater performance capabilities compared with the old Linux Subsystem tools. Microsoft also says it will update this kernel periodically via Windows update.
You will probably notice some alterations in Cortana and the Windows search UI. Cortana left the search box last year, and now it’ll be more mobile. Cortana will act more like a standard app that you can move around the screen. You’ll still be able to type queries and enter voice commands, though. Meanwhile, the search UI will be less cluttered. Microsoft expanded the search indexer’s reach in the last 2019 update, but that didn’t return useful results very often and made the UI harder to navigate. In the May 2020 update, search will be more narrow. There will also be a few quick search buttons for things like weather and top news.
Microsoft has been adding new features to the Your Phone client for the past year, and the May 2020 Update will bring new capabilities like instant file transfers (for select devices). However, you’ll need to download the Your Phone app to get that set up — the OS won’t prompt you. There’s also DirectX 12 Ultimate, with improved ray tracing support. Naturally, you’ll need a compatible video card and games to enjoy that.
Mainstream users will begin seeing the May update in a few weeks, but you can join the Insiders program to get access now. That’s available in Settings > Update & Security > Windows Insider Program.