Top 40 New Windows 10 Features Expected in 2019

The Windows 10 train keeps chugging along! After a hiccup or two with the October 2018 Update, Microsoft has shifted attention to the next major update for the operating system.

One that is on track to arrive by spring next year.

Conveniently codenamed 19H1, this new version is in currently in development. The various preview builds of the April 2019 Update that the company has released for Insiders have provided us with hints at what this version will bring in terms of new features and enhancements to existing ones.

Add in some of the options that were delayed, and you have a lot to look forward to in 2019.

Here is a list of everything we are excited to seeing in Windows 10 this year 2019 — all the new features, all the new options, large and small.

We have broken down these in two sections, the first one covers the Major Features that are in development, while Minor Enhancements are listed towards the end. Also included are our thoughts on each new addition, as well as a measure of how excited we are in the form of the Hype Meter.

Let’s get to it!

Windows 10 Desktop

Codename 19H1

Also known as Windows 10 Version 1903, this version will be the seventh major refresh that Microsoft will release for its flagship operating system. 19H1 is the first of the two updates coming in 2019, with the second one likely to be called 19H2.

As has been the case with most Windows 10 refreshes, Microsoft aims to roll out this first one during spring. That is to say, it will be finalized in March and released in April for everyone. The second one will, in all likelihood, be ready in September, ahead of its October release.

Development on 19H1 has picked up pace in recent months, with the company gradually unveiling new additions via the preview builds that have landed in the Fast Ring of the Windows Insider Program.

That said, not all the new features have been publicly revealed yet. Many have made it to the public preview builds, but a fair few are under testing behind closed doors at Redmond — a handful have even leaked out. All these pieces of the puzzle provide a glimpse at the immediate future of the Windows operating platform. And we’ll be taking a look at them in detail to get a sense of the direction the world’s most popular desktop OS is heading in.

This article is up-to-date until Windows 10 build 18312, which was the second build release in 2019, making its way out on Wednesday, January 9. We’ll be updating this as newer builds get released or big new features are announced.

For Microsoft, the mantra continues to be refining Windows 10 and roughing out its edges. The last two updates were all about streamlining the usage experience, and the next two seem to be doing the same.

Yes, there’s a lot new, but only a selection constitutes of wholesale changes. Refinement seems to be the name of the game for now, for all the right reasons, too. Windows 10 could use a streamline job.

Anyway, enough talk.

Let’s take a deep dive and take a look at what the new year has in store for us in terms of new additions and improved features for Windows 10 in the April 2019 Update and beyond. There are bound to be new surprises along the way, but what is already out is exciting as it is, as you’ll find out below.

Major Features

These are the features and options that Microsoft will spare no effort to highlight, the new additions that will define Windows 10 19H1. Some of the biggest changes here include the new light look, the overhauled quick actions area in the Action Center, improved Windows Search as well as more Fluent Design implementations across the operating system.

Here is a look at the additions that may tempt you to upgrade to Windows 10 next year:

Light Theme

Windows 10 is now officially getting a Light theme! Microsoft already includes a light look for its operating system to contrast the dark one, but the various elements did not have a true light color scheme when switching between the two looks.

Fans had been asking to including something like in Windows Shell for years now, envisioning their concepts, and the company is now ready to make them a reality.

Start menu in Light Theme

This new system in the theme option gives the entire UI a clean, light and bright feel. All major elements of the operating system including the Start Menu, Taskbar and Action Center are painted with this stylish new look. Windows 10 also includes a custom option that lets you mix and match between the light and dark themes. It is enabled by default on clean installations of Windows 10 Home, while Pro and Enterprise versions will continue to sport the dark look.

Colors Settings

A new light theme is also the perfect time to include a new default desktop wallpaper, and Microsoft packs one in. It is an iteration of the Windows 10 hero image, painted with bright strokes. Good stuff.

What is it? A system-wide light look for the operating system
Who asked for it? A light theme had been a public demand for years
Our thoughts: Overall, this bright new look is excellent, matching the Windows 10 style and providing a neat balance to the fan-favorite dark theme
Expected availability: April (19H1)
Hype Meter: ♥♥♥♥♥

Fluent Design

Look beyond the Light theme, and you will find Microsoft continuing on with its new design philosophy bit by bit. As part of this gradual rollout, several other areas of the operating system now have Fluent Design changes.

Shadows - Fluent Design

For starters, the shadow effect for menus is back. The company removed this a while ago, but has added it in again after few revisions based on the feedback it received from testers. This gives the UI an additional depth, and the shadows themselves look great in use. Other elements like context menus and jump lists have also been polished up with these effects.

New file explorer icon

Same goes for the overall user interface has also been polished with touch-ups here and there. The File Explorer icon is now slightly darker to better fit with the new Light theme.

Acrylic Background on Lock Screen

Another area where 19H1 will see the implementation of these design refreshes is the login screen, which now has an Acrylic effect. It simply blurs the wallpaper when you are logging into Windows. Microsoft believes that this translucent surface helps you focus on the task by moving actionable controls up the visual hierarchy. Not for everyone this, but here we are.

The Fluent Design adventure, meanwhile, continues.

Although the main UI is yet to pick up some of these new changes, as you will find out in the Window Mixed Reality section below, Microsoft has been experimenting with the overall design of the user interface.

Additions like rounded corners and gradients can be seen on certain apps and features of the operating system, hinting that we may get a truly different implementation of the Fluent Design System in place sometimes later this year.

Which is good, actually, as this aspect of the OS has been long overdue for an uplift.

Ultimately, this is a long-term project for the Redmond based software company. And the firm is well on its way to completely overhaul the OS with this distinct combination of effects. Reveal, Acrylic and good old shadows are all teaming up to make Windows 10 a bit livelier, a bit more pretty. We like it.

What is it? A new design language to polish up the UI
Who asked for it? This is the continuation of a long-term project of uplifting the user interface of the OS
Our thoughts: Although there are no wholesale changes, this is simply Microsoft continuing to implement its new design language across the operating system
Expected availability: April (19H1), October (19H2)
Hype Meter: ♥♥♥

Brightness Slider

Action Center

A side of Windows 10 that is growing by stature with each new release, Action Center is seeing some nice new changes in Windows 10 19H1. The overhaul starts with the availability of a new brightness slider located at the very bottom for granular control, which the old brightness button never quite managed to provide.

Edit Quick Actions

Microsoft also redid the editing process for quick actions. No longer is it necessary to make a trip to the Settings app to configure which actions you want displayed in the quick actions area. All this can be done directly from the Action Center now. You can pin, unpin, add or remove actions without leaving.

All this is fine and dandy, but what would be great here are additional options for the OS and apps right in the Action Center — something like live actions. We probably are a while away from this, but perhaps this new year will see some action on this front.

The brightness slider is a small step in this direction, after all.

What is it? A way to improve the usability of the notification center
Who asked for it? Microsoft figured it best to improve how users set up and interacted with actions
Our thoughts: What would really be great is the addition of smart or live actions that can accomplish small tasks right from the Action Center, but this will do until we get there
Expected availability: April (19H1)
Hype Meter: ♥♥

Few would deny that search has never been a strong point of Windows 10. Third-party programs had upped their game years ago, but Microsoft is looking to change things. It has outlined plans to improving the Windows Search throughout both 2019 releases of the operating system and 19H1 is already showcasing some of these improvements.

For starters, indexing in Windows Search has been improved. Your files will be indexed notably faster hereon, while the OS now also provides more granular control over where it looks while you ask it to search for files. A personal user profile is also included.

Windows Search

But the most visible change is when you start a search in the Windows 10 April 2019 Update, you will notice an updated landing page that shows your recent activities. Not only does it have better spacing, it also adds light theme support with subtle Acrylic effects all over the search filter options up top.

Of course, if you have been following the development of Windows 10 lately, you may be aware that Microsoft is splitting the search functionality from Cortana — the digital assistant now has a different button on the desktop that sits alongside a dedicated search box in the Taskbar.

A lot more work is needed to bring search up to speed in the OS, hopefully that happens in 2019.

What is it? A better way to search for files and elements of the operating system
Who asked for it? Not everyone was pleased with how Cortana poked her nose during regular search
Our thoughts: Splitting Cortana and Windows Search was only logical, however search in Windows 10 is still not as powerful or fast as it should be
Expected availability: April (19H1)
Hype Meter: ♥♥♥

Start Menu

2019 may yet bring some big changes to the Start Menu, but the 19H1 release doesn’t contain many. You do get the ability to right-click on a group name or tile folder, and Windows 10 will now give you an option to unpin it.

Nice, small, usability improvement.

Unpin group from start menu

So is hovering over the navigation pane in the Start Menu. When you put your mouse there for a bit, it will now automatically expand. Plus, clicking on the power button will show new icons for the things you can do here, like Sleep, Shut down and Restart. Additionally, some nice new icons can also be found in the profile menu for options like Change account settings, Lock and Sign­-out.

Power options in Start menu

Microsoft doesn’t seem to be much in experimentation mood for the Start Menu, but it is debuting a new simplified layout that the company says has been streamlined into a sleek, one-column design with reduced top-level tiles. It will only appear on new installations and new accounts, though.

What is it? Minor touchups to the Start Menu
Who asked for it? Microsoft likes to improve usability of the Start Menu with every major release
Our thoughts: Again, while smart live tiles are still only a dream on Windows 10, we’ll take any and all improvements the company brings to this highly used element of the OS
Expected availability: April (19H1)
Hype Meter: ♥♥

Windows Security

A major new Windows 10 update is no update if it does not bring along a nice handful of security improvements. Microsoft, coming off another renaming job after changing the name of the program to Windows Security, has a few new additions in store.

Windows Security

A redesigned Protection History page is part of the 19H1 development. It will not only show your antivirus detection, but more details too. Even better, these details are now easier to understand. Any pending recommendations are displayed with a red or yellow state to streamline the usage experience of this welcome new solution.

Protection history also lists the attempts that Controlled Folder Access feature blocked.

If you thought security was already up to eleven in Windows 10 now, Microsoft has upped the game with another powerful feature. A Tamper Protection setting has been added in Windows Security. It enables Windows Defender Antivirus to offer additional protection against changes to key security features in the OS. For example, this new block will limit changes that are not made directly through the Windows Security app, as a rogue program or malware may be actioning these changes without your knowledge.

Application Guard

Windows 10 Version 1903 also packs an updated version of Windows Security that has introduced new Windows Defender Application Guard options. This is a security feature for Microsoft Edge, where system administrators can manage access to camera and microphone while browsing.

Good options to have, all these, for that added piece of mind.

What is it? An amp up of the security features in the OS
Who asked for it? Users had been asking for more control and better navigation for a while now
Our thoughts: Security is paramount, and Windows 10 has taken a few big steps towards strengthening itself with these welcome new additions
Expected availability: April (19H1)
Hype Meter: ♥♥♥

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Windows Sandbox

While we are on the topic of security, this new addition is pretty neat. Windows 10 19H1 is bringing along a new feature that you can use to safely run suspicious and untrusted applications in a separate, isolated environment.

Windows Sandbox is an excellent way to keep your device safe from harm.

It uses the Microsoft Hypervisor technology to create a lightweight environment that uses around 100 MB of space. Hardware virtualization is then used to run an untrusted application. Yes, it is a virtualized environment, but lets you get up and running without creating a virtual machine manually first. Once you finish using or testing the app, you can simply close the session to automatically delete everything.

Windows Sandbox

Microsoft claims that Window Sandbox works very efficiently, making full use of integrated kernel scheduler, as well offering smart memory management and support for virtual graphics. In other words, you should be able to run pretty much all of your apps in this dedicated environment, without them having any negative effect on you Windows 10 installation.

Speaking of, this new feature is only available on Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise. Meaning, home users miss out on this option, unless they are running the Pro flavor of the OS. Understandable, though a bit sad, considering home users and consumers are the ones that need a native sandboxing feature the most.

What is it? A separate, virtualized environment to run new and untrusted apps
Who asked for it? Microsoft figured this was the next logical addition to the security arsenal of the OS
Our thoughts: Welcome as this feature is, in the presence of several third-party sandboxing solutions on the operating system, it is disappointing that Home users miss out on Windows Sandbox
Expected availability: April (19H1)
Hype Meter: ♥♥♥

Windows Updates

Big changes are in store for how Windows Updates are deployed and distributed on Windows 10. In a bid to ensure a more seamless experience for users, Microsoft has introduced a number of welcome new changes — including reserving storage space and also pausing the updates altogether.

Let’s get to the pausing bit, first.

Right now, Windows 10 Home devices receive system updates as soon as Microsoft releases them, while other versions of the operating system like Pro and Enterprise offer an option to pause the deployment. However, there is talk now that the software titan could be changing this approach with the upcoming release of 19H1 update in April.

Pause Windows Updates

Basically, users running Windows 10 Home will be allowed to pause updates for up to 7 days. Meaning, the updates will no longer be installed as soon as they are released. Users can push back the installation by up to a week, in case they want to be sure that the patches are stable and free of issues.

Windows 10 will also now reserve at least 7GB of space for critical files. This capacity will be used for updates, apps, cache data and temporary files that the operating system uses for updating itself. The company has confirmed that the reserved storage will only be enabled on devices that come with Version 1903 of the OS preinstalled, or those who clean install it.

This new option will be at play in the background, with no input and configuration required from users. However, those with devices with limited storage like 32GB tablets may end up having to deal with a new hassle.

Active Hours

Windows Update has also been updated with a simpler new layout that brings forward functions like pausing updates and intelligent active hours that automatically adjust the timing so as not to interrupt your workflow.

What is it? More control over how and when Windows 10 updates are deployed
Who asked for it? Everyone, basically
Our thoughts: A wholesome bunch of welcome improvements to one of the most controversial aspects of Microsoft’s latest operating system, even if the reserved space feature sounds kind of iffy
Expected availability: April (19H1)
Hype Meter: ♥♥♥♥♥

Troubleshooting

Troubleshoot

Is there a doctor in the house? Microsoft has a bright new idea, that of allowing Windows 10 to automatically fix many of the critical problems on your device. To that end, the company has added a new Recommended troubleshooting section in the Troubleshoot page.

Though things are at an early stage for now, the idea here is to allow the OS to adjust feature settings to match your hardware configuration or automatically restore default settings when it sees them changed for critical services. Windows 10 may even make other specific changes it deems necessary for normal and smooth operation.

Fix A problem Notification

Another way Microsoft plans to use of this new addition is by recommending you troubleshooting for issues that are not critical to normal operation but may impact your experience. Example being, a setting that may cause an app or feature to crash unexpectedly.

Critical troubleshooting happens automatically, and you get no option to turn it off, unfortunately. But you can, thankfully, see the problems that Windows 10 fixed on your behalf via a history link, and also change the behavior. For example, you can have the operating system ask you before fixing problems, or tell you when it has done so. It can also do it all without asking.

Remains to be seen just how effective this new addition is, and what kind of options the company adds in here. Has the potential to quickly turn into a hassle, just as it has to become a useful utility. We’ll see.

What is it? Proactive troubleshooting of issues with your system
Who asked for it? With the way things have gone with Windows updates lately, this only makes sense
Our thoughts: As welcome as this feature is for overall stability of the OS, a lot will depend on how Microsoft refines and implements it for users
Expected availability: April (19H1)
Hype Meter: ♥♥♥♥

Emoji Panel

Emoji Panel

The emoji panel is going into overdrive next year. Starting with the 19H1 feature update, bringing up the emoji picker will also display symbols and kaomoji, you know, those faces made just with text.

Yes, the Character Map will continue to be included in the operating system. But the symbols panel will have sections for punctuation, currency, language, math, geometric and Latin symbols. Inserting them will be even easier, as Windows will populate them in the tab for quick selection.

Emojis

Microsoft is also all set to ship Emoji 12.

Sadly, though, the flags are still missing — very odd when you think about it. All other major platforms have flag emojis. But years on, Windows still doesn’t. One can only hope that this major issue also gets fixed sometimes in 2019.

What is it? Additions to the dedicated emojis panel
Who asked for it? Anyone that uses the Internet
Our thoughts: New emojis and new styles, but the flags are still nowhere to be found
Expected availability: April (19H1) and October (19H2)
Hype Meter: ♥♥♥♥

Settings

The Settings panel is one of the parts of Windows 10 that still needs a lot of work. Microsoft is on a quest to move all the options from the traditional Control Panel to here, and next year should see the company getting closer to this ambitious goal.

In between, there are native new additions to the Settings apps, as well as UI improvements.

Settings at Glance

The most obvious of which is the new personalized banner at the top that provides quick access to Microsoft Rewards, OneDrive, Your Phone and Updates. This section shares its look with the header available on the Microsoft Accounts page on the web, and helps users quickly glance their system status and make changes when needed.

Other refinements include an easier way to help users finish their Window setup and get quick access to their most frequently used settings. And although the UI, more or less, stays the same, categories have been expanded with new features and options to allow easier customization and personalization of the operating system.

What is it? UI and usability improvements to the Settings application
Who asked for it? Microsoft, who is on a mission to transition the classic Control Panel completely to the Settings app
Our thoughts: The Settings app has slowly become an indispensable control center for Windows 10, and any improvement to the experience is more than welcome
Expected availability: April (19H1) and October (19H2)
Hype Meter: ♥♥♥

Notepad

Feels a little odd typing this, but Notepad is finally leveling up in 2019! The fan favorite program is set to receive a number of usability improvement, almost all of which are sure to be appreciated by programmers, developers and people that heavily use the default text editor in the OS.

Things start with the addition of a column in the status bar that displays the encoding of the document. An asterisk will also be displayed in the title bar on documents with unsaved changes. Microsoft has also added in a few handy keyboard shortcuts — the standard ones like opening a new Notepad window, closing the current one or opening the Save As dialog.

Notepad

Aside from these UI enhancements, Notepad now also includes a new option to save files in UTF-8 without the Byte Order Mark, which is now the default for new files. This should definitely help with interoperability on the web, where UTF-8 is now the default encoding.

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What is it? Modernization of the default text editor in the OS
Who asked for it? Developers, in particular, as well as other users that dealt with text files
Our thoughts: Notepad is finally getting some love from Microsoft after years of neglect, and it feels really good
Expected availability: April (19H1)
Hype Meter: ♥♥♥

Windows Console

While we are on the topic of power users, here is another reason for them to be happy! The trusty old console now supports zooming in text via the mouse wheel. This works almost everywhere it is applicable, meaning in the Command Prompt, PowerShell and Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL).

Command Prompt Dark

Microsoft also refreshed the UI a bit. When using the Dark system theme, the scroll bars for all three console environments will now become dark as well.

Console

Windows 10 April 2019 also updates the properties page for consoles by adding in a new Terminal tab that introduces new customization settings. You can change elements like cursor shape and colors, as well as how your terminal looks.

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What is it? Improvements to the classic console terminals in Windows 10
Who asked for it? Microsoft has been focused on improving things for IT pros and developers lately
Our thoughts: A few very neat additions for developers, long overdue
Expected availability: April (19H1)
Hype Meter: ♥♥♥

Input

Though not everyone interacts with the myriad input features available on Windows 10, Microsoft continues to refine them for people that do. A number of improvements to the languages and keyboards are in line for arrival in 2019.

Windows 10 adds Indic Phonetic keyboards for languages like Hindi, Bangla, Punjabi, Gujarati, Odia, Tamil, Marathi, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam. This feature makes use of transliteration to suggest possible text candidates that can be quickly inserted.

Touch Keyboard Typing

Use the touch keyboard? You will now be able to type faster and more accurately, as Windows 10 will now detect your typing behavior and dynamically adjust the hit target of each key. This will be based on the predicting what letter you will most likely type next.

Touch keyboard

As part of input improvements, even more symbols and special characters are now available for use from the touch keyboard.

SwiftKey, which provides more accurate auto-corrections and predictions, is expanding to more languages. Microsoft also updated the Japanese IME by redesigning how it works with applications, and the candidate window interface is now a tad cleaner and a bit more polished.

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What is it? Enhancements to language and typing features
Who asked for it? Users with touch enabled devices
Our thoughts: Windows 10 may have a bit more to do to offer the best typing experience, but it is getting closer with each new iteration
Expected availability: April (19H1)
Hype Meter: ♥♥♥

Cloud Clipboard

The new cloud clipboard experience in Windows 10 is getting an interface uplift. The UI is now optimized for text snippets, with each entry smaller to fit in more content. That should definitely help with usability and address one of the biggest concerns regarding the user interface.

Another feature that is yet to be announced by Microsoft, but is already available for some Insides, is the syncing of Cloud Clipboard with Android devices. This neat integration will allow you to share copied data across your PC and phone in a truly seamless manner.

Cloud Clipboard

Anything you copy, the data will be sent to the cloud and then automatically synced across all devices where you are logged in. SwiftKey makes this possible on phones, and your copied data shows up in your clipboard history allowing you to paste it wherever you want.

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Cloud Copy

Likewise, copying something on your phone will show it up in Cloud Clipboard, with a little phone icon to tell you that the data was copied from your phone.

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What is it? Improvements to the cloud powered clipboard on Windows
Who asked for it? This is next logical step for this feature, which surprisingly has not seen much pick up
Our thoughts: Cloud Clipboard launched with appropriate fanfare, but these new additions are what will really level it up and entice more users to give it a try
Expected availability: April (19H1)
Hype Meter: ♥♥♥♥

Snip and Sketch

Microsoft has done a good job bringing new experience to take screenshots on Windows 10, and the company is taking things further in 19H1. There are a few new additions to Snip & Sketch, mostly centered on design and usability.

For starters, we have the option of adding a border to your screenshot.

Snip a Window

On the usability side of things, there is a button to print directly from the app, as well as the ability to save images in the JPEG and GIF formats. File names now also include a timestamp. And in case you have unsaved changes, you will get a popup confirmation when you close a window or open a file.

Another handy addition is the option to take screenshots of windows, easily and directly.

Snip Sketch

Snip & Sketch now also has a Settings page that replaces the old About page. This is where you’ll find a bunch of options including adding a border and automatic copying of your snip to your Cloud Clipboard.

What is it? A streamlined way to take screenshots on Windows 10
Who asked for it? Microsoft, who replaced the classic sniping experience with this new app
Our thoughts: Although we are a few miles out from this app reaching its full potential, there are enough design and usability improvements here that show things are on the right track
Expected availability: April (19H1)
Hype Meter: ♥♥♥

Sticky Notes

Sticky Notes, along with Snip & Sketch, is one of the new Windows 10 apps Microsoft brought forward in its quest to modernize the classic solutions available in the operating system. And just like that it one, it also got a few additional improvements this round.

Inching closer to the classic notes program that it is replacing.

Sticky Notes

Although, the major changes were rolled out a few months back, including UI improvements, Microsoft now allows you to use Sticky Notes in dark mode when switching the system to dark mode.

Apart from visual touchups, the solution also got some cloud capabilities baked in. Thanks to the integration with OneNote, it is now possible for you to view the notes you created in the cloud. Both changes make sense, look good.

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What is it? The modernization of the note taking experience in the operating system
Who asked for it? Microsoft has been steadily refining these new default apps in the OS
Our thoughts: Nothing spectacular, but a couple of pleasant improvements
Expected availability: April (19H1)
Hype Meter: ♥♥♥

Microsoft Edge

Ah, the new browser under fire. Microsoft Edge has small, dedicated userbase, but this new default Windows 10 web browser never quite managed to take market share away from Google Chrome as Redmond would have wanted.

Part of that is because many felt that Edge was a little rough around the edges.

This new UWP based browser was packed to the brim with performance and usability improvements. But its user interface was a bit of a letdown. As was the lack of plugins and addons that are available on solutions like Chrome and Firefox. Throw in the fact that Edge was only really updated biannually, with each major new Windows 10 refresh, and you have a recipe for disaster.

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Took Microsoft a while to figure this out, but the company finally has. It has officially outlined plans to move away from the EdgeHTML rendering engine and use Chromium, the same technology that powers Google Chrome.

Edge Chrome

This is a big change, but it is a switch that should get Edge up to speed and compete with the best browsers available on the market. More importantly, this change in direction should help Microsoft up its game in terms of addons, as pretty much all of the Chrome extensions could be repackaged for Microsoft Edge with a little tinker.

Though the main focus in 2019 will be on the switch to the Chromium engine, we can expect the software titan to polish up the browser in all the necessary areas. Microsoft Edge will also launch on other platforms and operating systems this year, including other versions of Windows.

This expanded footprint, Microsoft hopes, will help to drive up the market share of its new browser, at a time when it has, sadly, stagnated.

What is it? A switch in direction for the browser with a new underlying rendering engine
Who asked for it? Pretty much everyone wants to see Edge rise up and become a contender
Our thoughts: Microsoft still has a long way to go to make its new browser stand up to the competition, but this engine change is exactly what the mechanic ordered
Expected availability: April (19H1) and October (19H2)
Hype Meter: ♥♥♥♥

Cortana

If you have been wondering where Cortana is, wonder no more. Microsoft hinted at moving away from the digital assistant late last year, and this strategy looks like it will continue in 2019. Yes, the voice assistant will gain a new feature here and there, but it is no longer in the spotlight now.

A clear example of this is, when you do a clean install of Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise or Education, the Cortana voice overs will be disabled by default. She will only guide Home users in setting up their computers.

Cortana

In addition to that, Search and Cortana are now separate. People had been asking for this for a long time, and Windows 10 now offers separate buttons for Cortana and search. Microsoft is also adding new bells and whistles to Cortana, including integration with Microsoft To-Do that will let you add lists and reminders in the digital voice assistant.

Cortana to do

Ultimately, though, Cortana is being transitioned from being a standalone digital assistant to an assistant that works across Microsoft products and service like Office 365 — which is perhaps the best way to go about things.

What is it? A fall from grace for the digital assistant
Who asked for it? Everyone who did not use Cortana
Our thoughts: This was inevitable, considering how Microsoft is moving away from the voice assistant, but chances are that this change in direction will actually be good for Cortana
Expected availability: April (19H1)
Hype Meter: ♥♥♥♥

Sets

It’s been all fun and games until now, but time to get serious! And there is not a more serious feature for Windows than Sets. Users had been asking for native tab support in the OS for eons, and Microsoft finally listened and announced this robust new addition to the platform in late 2017.

In fact, the company went a step further and baked in additional productivity options into the mix.

The idea was to allow you to group your apps into various tabs, and even make multiple Sets so that you can have nicely tabbed multiple windows for the different projects that you are working on. In other words, this feature shared similarities with the virtual desktop features in Windows 10 — except that it went way beyond that.

All good in theory, but things sadly went downhill from there.

Windows 10 Sets

Microsoft initially unveiled this feature for UWP apps and promised to bring it to traditional desktop programs too, in due time. However, compatibility issues soon arose during testing by Insiders and the software titan ended up delaying this feature. Some expected it to launch with the April 2018 Update, others were sure that it would arrive with the October 2018 Update.

But here we are in 2019, and it has been radio silence from Microsoft on this for a while now.

Not a good place to be in, for what could have been an excellent addition to Windows 10. It still may be, if Microsoft can iron out the problems with Sets. More so when you think that third-party applications have already managed to offer some of this functionality.

There is a chance that we may get Sets, or some form of it, later this year. No signs of it for the first major refresh, but all bets are on 19H2 now.

Don’t hold your breath, though.

What is it? An elaborate productivity feature that brings tabs to apps
Who asked for it? People have been asking for native tabs support in Windows for decades
Our thoughts: One of the most anticipated features for Windows 10 also ended up being one of its most disappointing in terms of development, but there remains a glimmer hope yet that Sets will become part of the operating system sometime in the future
Expected availability: October (19H2)
Hype Meter: ♥♥♥♥♥

Minor Enhancements

It wouldn’t be a new version of Windows 10 without a small polish here, a little touch-up there. Years into release, Microsoft still has its proverbial plate full in terms of creating a cohesive UI. Add to that the drive to move towards a modern usage experience, and there are a million different things to improve upon, a million different settings to move from the classic Control Panel to the Settings app.

Good thing then, that the company is inching closer to this dream with these little improvements:

New Music Control

Music Control

Music lovers rejoice! Windows 10 is finally getting a music applet right in the volume control flyout in the System Tray. It looks about as good as you would expect it to, providing all the necessary basic functionality. More than that, it serves as the ideal replacement for the old music control that still uses the Windows 8 design.

Although not available in Insider builds as of this writing, this feature has been confirmed from multiple sources. It should officially show up in 2019.

Game Bar

Game Bar

The Game Bar is getting a new gallery that you can use to view screenshots and videos without having to leave the game. Visual touchups are also part of the package, with neatly designed light and dark looks. And for those social freaks among you, there is also the option to share content directly to Twitter.

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Fonts Installation

Fonts

Designers, represent! While the Fonts section in Settings is a long way from matching a dedicated font management program, things are improving over there. The panel now includes a drag and drop option to quickly install fonts using a file. Why didn’t someone think of this before!

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Multitasking

Multitasking in Windows 10 is already impressive, but Microsoft has improved the experience a smidge by updating the panel in Settings. Snap settings are now displayed as check-boxes instead of toggle switches, opening up new customization possibilities.

Currently in Use

Mic in use notification

Both the Camera and Microphone settings pages have been updated to show which apps are using these two peripherals. You will see a “Currently in use” label next to the applications.

Windows Setup

Windows 10 setup

The next version of Windows 10 also polishes up the setup design. In use now, is a lighter look instead of purple colors when you run the experience from an ISO file. Excellent, as that purple style had been there for ages and was due a little change.

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Brightness

Peeved by how Windows 10 changes your screen brightness when transitioning from charger to battery power? No more, as the next major update to the operating system modifies this behavior. No longer your display become brighter when moving from a charger to battery power.

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Once you adjust your brightness levels, Windows 10 will now handily remember your preferred setting and stick to it no matter where your device is drawing its power.

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Uninstalling Default Apps

If the default apps don’t do it for you, you will be pleased to know that you can now uninstall even more of these bundled applications in Windows 10. Previously you were only able to uninstall Microsoft Solitaire Collection, My Office, OneNote, Print 3D, Skype, Tips and Weather.

But now you can also get rid of 3D viewer, Calculator, Calendar, Groove Music, Mail, Movies & TV, Paint 3D, Snip & Sketch, Sticky Notes and Voice Recorder.

Sign-in Options

Sign in options

Microsoft has slowly been updating the Sign-in options page in Windows 10 with helpful new additions. Version 1903 makes it easier for you to set up an authentication method, from Windows Hello Face and Windows Hello Fingerprint to good old classic password or even a Picture Password.

A new option to set up a security key for authentication with the OS is also in.

Ethernet

IPv6

The world may be going wireless, but Ethernet still is widely in use. Windows 10 now comes with a properties page to manage Ethernet settings, allowing you to configure the static IP address and DNS server preferences right from this panel.

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The corresponding adapter name is also now listed in the sidebar under the Ethernet header, for quick differentiation in case you have more than one connection plugged in.

Date and Time

Date time sync

Another small new addition is the ability to manually synchronize the clock with Microsoft time servers from the Settings app. Starting with Version 1903, you will also get to see the address of your current time server and the last time your system time was successfully synced.

Focus Assist

Focus Assist

Windows 10 will now automatically turn on Focus Assist when entering full screen in apps.

Friendly Dates

There is a new default date format in in File Explorer called friendly dates, which basically shows dates in a conversational format. You will now see “5 hours ago” instead of a full timestamp. Luckily, this can easily be changed if you’d like to stick with the regular format.

Printing

Print

The printing experience now not only supports the light theme, but also comes with icons and a line of description in drop-down menus. Additionally, the name of the printer uses a wrap to fit in the content, instead of cutting off the name.

Sound

The Sound section in the Settings page now includes balance controls for spatial sound.

Storage

Storage Sense

Redesigned to show at a glance how space is being utilized, you no longer have to select each drive to see the information and storage details. You can also manage Storage Sense from the same panel, and Windows 10 also lists temporary files and apps and features that can be uninstalled.

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Taskbar

Taskbar got a few sweet touches, too. Alongside the microphone icon that shows up in the system tray when your mic is in use, and updated Windows Update icon is also displayed in the notification area with an orange indicator alerting you that a restart is pending.

Tasbar Offline Notification

Windows 10 now also includes a new disconnected icon when there is no Internet activity on your device. This will appear whenever the OS detects no connectivity from your Ethernet, WiFi or cellular adapters.

Windows Mixed Reality

Although Microsoft has not highlighted them, Windows Mixed Reality has been getting some improvements in 19H1 builds, primarily to the UI. There is a new Start menu for users that features a gradient background with a profile picture up top, complete with rounded corners.

Mixed Reality UI

Lastly, there is a new Mixed Reality Portal that, as the name suggests, is designed to highlight some of the best virtual reality and mixed reality content that is available on the platform via SteamVR and Windows Mixed Reality.

Ease of Access

Ease of access

As is always the case with each new Windows 10 version, this year will see Microsoft take big steps towards improving accessibility for users. Narrator already picked up a range of options in 19H1, and a whole bunch of additional enhancements are in the pipeline.

2 thoughts on “Top 40 New Windows 10 Features Expected in 2019”

  1. Ah-huh. And just how many personal apps, and personal software, and drivers will break with the “new” OS on its way along with a ton more privacy invasions????

  2. While many of the “Top 40” seem very logical and useful, some seem like duplicates of the Settings app. I suggest that Microsoft review this valuable list to look over where duplication could cause confusion, especially for newer users of Windows 10, Then remove duplicates. The light theme for example is already available, so why have two ways to turn it on. I do like the new logon features. As an Insider, I have already seen implementation of many features in this list, but I welcome the variety without duplication. Thank you.

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