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(Pocket-lint) - The latest major operating system update to Windows 10 - the Windows 10 May 2020 Update - has arrived. It's now free to download and use.

Just a few weeks after Microsoft released a final version of the Windows 10 May 2020 Update to testers, the company has officially rolled out the software update to the public, allowing anyone on Windows 10 to access it through the Windows Update system tool. Here's everything you need to know, including what's new in the May 2020 Update and how to get it.

What is the Windows 10 May 2020 Update?

Microsoft has been updating its Windows 10 operating system twice a year - once in the spring and again in the autumn - for years. These are big feature updates completely separate from the monthly security updates that Microsoft also rolls out to Windows 10 users. The latest version is the May 2020 Update, and it's actually rolling out a few weeks early to testers in the Insiders program.

Microsoft has a Windows release health dashboard that offers a status on the rollout and any known issues for the May 2020 Update. This is Microsoft's way of being more cautious and transparent about updates following the October 2018 Update that caused file deletion issues.

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What's new in Windows 10 May 2020 Update?

Microsoft detailed every new feature in the May 2020 Update here. We've rounded up a few of the more interesting ones below.

Browse the gallery above to see photos of some of the new features.

Control your updates

Windows Update automatically installs several updates. Now, there’s a new screen that shows all these updates in one area, whether it's driver updates, big features, quality updates, what have you. To find this screen after updating, go to Settings > Update and Security > Windows Update > View optional updates. You can then choose which updates you might want to install.

Improved Cortana (with typing)

Microsoft is showcasing a “new Cortana experience” with a chat-based interface. You can now type questions to Cortana instead of speaking aloud. The history of your conversation will appear like a chat window, after opening Cortana from the taskbar. You can resize it and move it around on your desktop by dragging the title bar. It supports both light and dark themes, as well.

Cloud download for reinstallations

There's a new “Cloud Download” option you can use when resetting your PC to a default Windows system. Go to Settings > Update and Security > Recovery and choose to reset your PC and remove everything, and then tell Windows to use “Cloud Download". Instead of reinstalling Windows 10 from the files on your local system, Windows will download the latest version of Windows 10 and install it on your system.

Faster Windows Search

The Windows 10 May 2019 Update fixed Start menu search by taking advantage of the old Windows search indexer. Insiders were turning off the search indexer, however, due to excessive disk and CPU usage and general performance issues. Microsoft said it’s now detecting peak usage times so it can better optimise when the indexer runs. The end result is that search is now faster by default.

Disk type and GPU temp in Task Manager

Windows 10’s Task Manager now displays your disk type, whether it's SSD or HDD, making it easier to see the hardware in your computer. These details are now displayed on the Performance tab. Open the Task Manager (Ctrl+Shift+Esc) and then click “More Details".

The Task Manager’s performance tab will also display your GPU temperature. Just go to your GPU’s status page under the Performance tab. This only works with dedicated graphics cards. It doesn't work with integrated or onboard GPUs.

FPS in the Xbox Game Bar

Windows 10’s new game bar now has an FPS counter and achievement overlay. Simply press Windows+G to open the Game Bar while playing a game, and then you’ll see a real-time FPS counter. Easy.

Make your device passwordless

There is a new “Make your device passwordless” option on the Settings > Accounts > Sign-in page. It can basically abolish passwords and require everyone on your PC to sign in with a PIN or a Windows Hello biometric sign-in method like face or fingerprint unlock.

Renaming virtual desktops

Windows 10’s virtual desktops are available in the Task View interface when you press Windows+Tab on your keyboard (or click the Task View icon on the taskbar). Now, rather than default names like “Desktop 1" and “Desktop 2", you can rename them. Just click the name of each virtual desktop at the top of the Task View interface and then type a name. You can even use emoji (press Windows+. to get the emoji picker).

Improved Network Status pane

The network status page (at Settings > Network and Internet > Status) has been redesigned. It now shows all the network at the top of the page. Microsoft said this new interface should “provide more information at a glance about your device’s connectivity".

Support for network cameras

Windows 10 is adding support for IP-based cameras. You’ll be able to add network-based cameras by going to Settings > Devices > Bluetooth and other devices > Add Bluetooth or other device. If there’s a supported camera on your local network, Windows 10 will find it, or you can add it to your system in one click. Then, you can use the built-in Camera app to access the network camera.

Disable restarting apps at sign-in

Windows 10 auto-reopens many applications, like Google Chrome, after you restart your PC. Now, you can disable this option. Head to Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options. Under Restart apps, toggle off “Automatically save my restartable apps when I sign out and restart them. . .".

Paint and WordPad are now optional

Microsoft has turned Paint and WordPad into “optional features", meaning you can uninstall them to free up space. Go to Settings > Apps > Apps and features > Optional features, and you’ll see Paint and WordPad with other optional features like Windows Media Player.

Windows Subsystem for Linux 2

Some would argue the biggest change to the May 2020 Update is that it includes the Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 (WSL 2) with a custom-built Linux kernel. This should improve the performance of Microsoft’s Linux subsystem in Windows. However, WSL 2 won’t include Linux GUI application support or GPU hardware acceleration yet. Microsoft said this will arrive via future updates.

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How to get the Windows 10 May 2020 Update

The Windows 10 May 2020 Update is a free update. Here's how to get it.

Check for the update

Any Windows 10 user can go to Windows Update to check for and then download and install the Windows 10 May 2020 Update.

  1. Go to Settings > Update and Security > Windows Update, and click Check For Updates.
  2. If your system is eligible to update, it should begin downloading and installing.

Want to test future Windows 10 updates?

The next Windows 10 update will be available to Windows Insiders in the Release Preview ring. Here's how you can join and become a tester.

Become a Windows Insider

If you’re a Windows Insider, you'll have access to the preview builds of future Windows 10 updates. Just go to Microsoft’s Windows Insider website, sign in to your Microsoft account, and click Get Started to become a Windows Insider. It's free to join this beta-testing program. Once your PC is on the May 2020 Update, Microsoft will continue to release "cumulative updates" like normal.

  1. Go to Settings > Update and Security > Windows Insider Program and click the “Get started” button.
  2. Link your Microsoft account. This is the email account you used to register for the Windows Insider Program.
  3. Choose “Just fixes, apps, and drivers” to join the Release Preview ring and confirm.
  4. Press “Restart Now”. A restart is required.
  5. After rebooting your PC, you check your Windows Insider Program settings. Go to Settings > Update and Security > Windows Insider Program and double-check that it shows “Release Preview” under “What pace do you want to get new builds?”.
  6. If you go to Settings > Update and Security > Windows Update and press the “Check for updates” button, your PC will receive the update.

Want to know more?

Check out Microsoft's blog post for more details.

Writing by Maggie Tillman. Originally published on 16 April 2020.