The latest and greatest version of Windows 10 is here. Windows 10 May 2019 Update is officially out the gate. And though the rollout is slow and steady, every day new users hop onto this shiny new version.
Just like previous ones, Microsoft has tweaked its OS heavily with this update.
While that definitely makes for an interesting time discovering new things after installing the update, it may also leave you wondering where certain features are, where some tools have gone, and what the new buttons are for.
We take a look at 13 things in the May Update that may confuse and confound you.
1. Dude, where’s my favourite feature?
Like it or not, Microsoft does have a habit of removing an option (or two dozen) with each new release of the Windows 10 operating system. The May Update also axes some fan favourites. A case can be made that they had it coming, due to their low usage. But still, several big options are missing, like:
Message syncing: Previous versions of Windows offered the ability to sync Windows Mobile with the messaging app. This was a good way to see the texts sent to your phone on your desktop. The software titan did not seem to think so, as it has now turned this feature off.
Roaming of taskbar settings: Want to keep the same taskbar settings across multiple computers? Well, you’re out of luck, as this is another tool that has been deprecated.
Windows to Go: Say goodbye to another big feature. Microsoft is no longer developing Windows to Go, a feature that lets Windows 10 Pro users boot and run from certain USB sticks and external hard drives. Sure, the type of USB that is required for this is becoming obsolete, but ultimately, this is another high-profile retirement from the operating system.
But wait, there’s a bunch more.
Visit Microsoft Removed Feature Page for the full list of Windows features that are nearing their twilight.
2. Excuse me, why is the My People option still here?
Microsoft announced the My People feature with appropriate fanfare a few years back, but the last few months have all been about its demise. Well, let’s just say that these rumours were a tad premature, as the feature is still here. Hard to tell how long it will survive in the OS, but it is perhaps best not to get too attached to this option to stay in contact with your family and friends.
Remove its icon from the taskbar by right-clicking and selecting the option. It surely will not last long.
3. What’s this bit about Reserved Storage?
If you have been hearing about this new option in Windows 10, then you are not alone. Reserved Storage has been a popular topic for watercooler conversations in the community ever since it was announced as coming with the May Update.
Basically, this is Windows taking a chunk of your hard drive space — say 7GB or more — and reserving it for the deployment of feature updates and security fixes. This is a way for Microsoft to be sure that your drive does not become too full that your system is not able to download and install future releases, thereby leaving your PC vulnerable to being hacked.
Interestingly, unless you bought your PC with the May Update already installed, or went in and performed a clean install by wiping your drive, Reserved Storage will not be activated. To find out whether it is activated, open Settings, go to System, then click on Storage in the sidebar, and in the main pane look for the System and reserved heading below the bars that gauge the consumption of your primary drive.
4. Search seems changed?
It sure does. Microsoft has altered things here, in a bid to enable Windows to provide more accurate results. Clicking on Search lists options like All Apps, Documents, Email and Web — a markedly better way to go about it and letting you narrow your results.
At the bare minimum, this is a definite improvement from previous versions of Windows 10 that showed Cortana and then waited for you to type a search term. In fact, Search and Cortana used to share a single taskbar icon, but now the two features have been split.
This also enables the OS to deliver you more options to choose exactly what you need.
Do keep in mind that Windows, by default, only produces search results from your desktop, along with libraries like Pictures, Documents and Music. But it is easy to extend this to include more locations. Simply go to Settings, click on Search, followed by Searching Windows. Click on Enhanced under the Find My Files option, and expand the search results to encompass your entire system.
This will take a few hours to a few days, depending on how much data you have. That is due to the fact that Windows will only build an index of you drives when your system is idle.
But totally worth it.
5. What is this new globe icon?
This is a what you would call a small refinement. The new globe icon appears in the taskbar when Windows does not have an Internet connection. Use it to check whether WiFi has been turned off on your system. Reenable it, if it is.
If you see an airplane instead of a globe, then this means that Flight mode is active. Click the plane to deactivate the blue Flight mode button. This will turn your WiFi hardware back on, and reconnect to the network.
6. And I also see a microphone icon?
Good catch! This is another new icon that appears whenever a program that you are running uses your microphone. Hover your mouse over to find out which application is using your mic — example being a Skype call, or when you are recording audio on your computer.
That said, there may be times when a harmful app or malware may have hijacked your mic to eavesdrop on your conversations. Good way to stay in the know and this icon is totally worth checking out whenever you are in doubt.
7. What’s with the blurry shadows under menus?
Again, this is something that not everyone will enjoy, but the May Update ups the ante for Fluent Design, a new look for the OS that the Redmond based company is pursuing. It has been slow progress for this shiny design language, but things are starting to fall in place.
With this newest release, not only do you have a brilliant new Light theme across the OS, but also a blurred login screen and greater use of shadows.
If this is not your cup of tea, and you want something a bit more subtle, then you can turn on the high-contrast setting to reduce the use of color. This can be done via the Settings app. Open it, then click on the Ease of Access option, and then select High contrast in the sidebar. Finally, click the slider below where it says Turn on high contrast.
8. My Downloads folder looks different, what gives?
Glad you noticed. That’s because Windows now sorts your downloads differently, listing your more recent files up at the top. This is a change that actually makes a lot of sense, as it makes it easier to distinguish between different versions of the same file.
It also is a nice chronological listing of what you have downloaded over the past few weeks, and should come in handy for those of you who grab a lot of files off the web.
9. Is it just me, or does Windows seem to have messed up the brightness?
It’s not you. Microsoft has made a few changes to how Windows 10 handles screen brightness. For starters, the previous button (or tile) that let you control the brightness levels in increments is gone, replaced with a new slider in the Action Center.
Drag it left and right to adjust the brightness, or simply use your keyboard hotkeys for this function.
Where things get really interesting is in how Windows now handles your screen when you plug in your PC. The previous implementation was downright annoying, as your display was made darker again to match the setting when you were on battery power.
Instead, Windows now remembers how bright you like your screen, and maintains that level. The exception being when you unplug your device when using it in high brightness. In this case, the OS will automatically reduce the level to extend your battery life. Luckily, you have a say in adjusting the point at which it does this.
Just go to Settings, click System, then the Battery link in the sidebar. Then tick the Turn battery saver on automatically if my battery falls below, then set your percentage and tick the Lower screen brightness while in battery saver option.
10. Looks like I am missing some Action Center controls?
No doubt. One area of improvement in the May Update is how Microsoft made it easier to show and hide controls in the Action Center. This basically allows you to strip down the 16 possible functions to just the ones you need — neat way to keep your notification panel organised.
To tinker these, open Action Center by clicking the fancy little speech bubble on your taskbar. Then right-click any of the buttons and click Edit quick actions. Now, simply click the drawing pin in the corner of an existing action to remove it.
You can also click Add and choose new actions to show here.
11. Help, Active Hours are behaving weirdly?
You are not alone here. The May Update has brought along further refinements to the Active Hours feature in Windows 10. This is, of course, the feature that determines the time of the day when you tend to use your PC, so that it is not rebooted and updates are not installed during this timeframe.
Or, at least, that is how it works now.
Previously, you had to set the hours yourself, which was fine too. But with this newest update to the operating system, Windows 10 now adjusts them automatically. This, it does by monitoring when you most often sit on the keyboard.
Fire up the Settings application and select Update & Security, then click Change Active Hours within the Windows Update section. Here, you can click the slider below the Automatically adjust active hours for this device based on activity to turn it on.
12. Can someone explain what the new Controlled Folders are?
This is Windows taking ransomware protection to whole new heights. Controlled Folders are essentially files, folders and parts of your system memory that you want to protect from this threatening form of malware that locks them up and demands a payment from you to get back access.
You can turn on this new feature by opening the Start Menu, typing Windows Security to open that panel, and then clicking the first result. Click Virus & threat protection, followed by Manage ransomware protection, then turn on the slider below Controlled folder access. Easy does it.
13. I heard Windows can now automatically troubleshoot itself?
You heard right, though these are still early days for this AI-powered feature. Microsoft is all about sparkling artificial intelligence everywhere it can, and the May Update for Windows 10 is no exception. The company already had a troubleshooting feature built into the OS, but now the software titan has automated the procedure.
Recommended Troubleshooting, as it is called, works quietly in the background. And not only does it fix certain issues all by itself, it also surfaces problems that may impact your experience. In other words, critical troubleshooting happens automatically, while the OS will also notify you about optional fixes that your PC needs.
There is one catch to all this, though.
And that is the fact that Recommended Troubleshooting works best if you send full diagnostic data back to Microsoft. And this includes everything from typing and speech — keystrokes to voice calls, the works. If you refuse, the troubleshooter will not work as well as it could. Your choice.
The Windows 10 May 2019 Update brings along a few badly needed improvements to the platform that push the PC platform ahead. Even if you had measured expectations to this newest release, you are sure to find a few things that you like.
It may be a minor release in terms of ambition, but look beyond some of these confusing features, and you will find the good stuff.