Windows 10 version 1903 (also known with the “19H1” codename) will be the seventh major refresh that Microsoft is planning to release during the spring of 2019 with new features and improvements.
Also, it’ll be the first of two updates coming in 2019, and while we’re still months away from the final version, thanks to the previews available in the Windows Insider Program, we can already see some of the changes that will be coming to the “April 2019 Update” (assuming the name will follow the scheme as we’ve been seeing in previous releases).
In this guide, we’ll highlight the new features and improvements planned for version 1903 as they appear in each test preview. You can also check all the new changes available with version 1809 (October 2018 Update) here.
- What’s new with desktop experience
- What’s new with Settings experience
- What’s new with input experience
- What’s new with system experience
- What’s new with built-in apps
What’s new with desktop experience
You can check out this walkthrough video with all the changes included in the most recent Windows 10 Insider Preview builds.
Starting with version 1903, Windows 10 is adding acrylic effect, part of Fluent Design, to the sign-in background. “The translucent texture of this transient surface helps you focus on the sign-in task by moving the actionable controls up in the visual hierarchy while maintaining their accessibility” — Microsoft explains.
In the Start menu, you won’t find big changes, but now you can right-click on a group name or tile folder, and you’ll now have an option to unpin it.
When you hover over the navigation pane in the Start menu, after a short period it will now automatically expand. Also, when you click the power button, you’ll notice new icons for Sleep, Shut down, and Restart.
Starting with the Windows 10 April 2019 update, when you start a search, you’ll notice an updated landing page with better spacing to show recent activities, adding light theme support with some subtle acrylic effect over all the search filter options.
In the taskbar, more specifically in the notifications section, Windows 10 is also including a new “disconnected” icon when there’s not an internet connection on your device. This icon will appear when no connection to the internet is detected for Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and Cellular adapters.
There’s a new microphone icon in the system tray which appears when your microphone is in use, which if hover over with the mouse will also show which app is currently accessing the device. If you have multiple apps accessing the microphone, then you’ll only see the number of apps using the device. Also, if you now double-click the icon, it’ll open the Microphone settings page.
In addition, you’ll see an updated Windows Update icon in the notification area with an orange indicator alerting you that a restart is pending.
Starting with this new version, Action Center add a new slider to quickly adjust the brightness of the screen.
You can rearrange and add buttons without having to open the Settings app.
If you need to add or remove buttons, right-click a button, select Edit, and then click the unpin button or click the Add button add more buttons.
Also, Action Center now introduces a shadow to match the shadow seen along the borders of other taskbar flyouts.
Starting with Windows 10 version 1903, there’s a new system light theme that brings lighter colors for the Start menu, Action Center, taskbar, touch keyboard, and other elements that didn’t have a true light color scheme when switching from the dark to light system theme.
The new color scheme is available in Settings > Personalization > Colors and selecting the Light option under “Choose your color” drop-down menu.
Using the drop-down menu, you’ll also find a custom option, which allows you to continue to use a light theme without the new changes.
In addition, this flight introduces a new default desktop wallpaper, which you can use going to Settings > Personalization > Theme and selecting the Windows Light theme.
As part of this new version, the printing experience now supports the light theme. And you’ll notice that options now include icons, and drop-down menus now show a line of description.
Also, the name of the printer will now use a wrap instead of cutting off the name.
What’s new with Settings experience
In the update planned for April 2019, the Settings app is also getting a number of refinements.
In the Focus assist setting page, Windows 10 is adding a new automatic rule to let remove distractions while you’re working on anything full screen. (The option is called “When I’m using an app in full screen mode.”)
The Storage settings page has been redesigned to see at glance how space is been utilized, instead of having to select each drive to see the same information, which wasn’t very intuitive for many users.
As a result of this change, you’ll no longer find the Storage sense section, but you can still access the settings to enable, disable, and configure the feature by clicking the Configure Storage Sense or run it now link under “Storage.”
Under the More Storage settings section, you’ll now find options to access the Optimize Drives settings to use defragmentation, and you’ll find another option to view storage usage on other drives.
Advanced scaling settings
Since the April 2018 Update, Windows 10 includes an option to automatically fix scaling for apps that may look blurry after your display settings change. However, it was an option that you needed to enable manually, but with the April 2019 update, the option is now enabled by default on Settings > System > Display > Advanced scaling settings page.
Printers & Scanners
The Printers & Scanners settings page have been updated with a link, in the right pane, to open the troubleshooter in case you need fix problems with your printer or scanner.
Apps & features
Starting with version 1903, Microsoft is making changes to allow you to uninstall even more built-in apps that you don’t use, including:
- 3D Viewer.
- Groove Music.
- Movies & TV.
- Paint 3D.
- Snip & Sketch.
- Sticky Notes.
- Voice Recorder.
Previously, you were only to able uninstall these:
- Microsoft Solitaire Collection.
- My Office.
- Print 3D.
On version 1903, Windows 10 is updating the Sign-in options settings page to make it easier for users to set up an authentication method, including Windows Hello Face, Windows Hello Fingerprint, password, and Picture Password.
Inside the properties page to manage Ethernet settings, you can now configure the static IP address and DNS server preferences. (Although this is new to Windows 10 version 1903, you’ve been able to configure these settings for wireless adapters for a long time.)
In addition, the corresponding Ethernet adapter name will now be listed in the sidebar under the “Ethernet” header so you can easily differentiate Ethernet entries at a glance if there’s more than one.
In the Colors page, the options to change your default app mode and enable or disable transparency have moved to the top of the page to make them easier to find.
Date & Time
In the Date & Time settings page, you’ll now find an option to manually synchronize the clock with the time server. This will help in scenarios where you think the clock might be out of sync, or if the time service has been disabled. Also, starting with version 1903, the Settings app will show the last time that time was successfully synced, and the address of your current time server.
In the Language settings, when adding a new language, Windows 10 will offer separate options for installing the language pack and setting the language as the Windows display language. In addition, you’ll see separate options for installing the “Speech recognition” and “Text-to-speech” features, when these features are available for the language.
Also, there’s a new page that allows you to select the input method to always use as default, and access to adjust language bar options and input language hotkeys.
In the Narrator page, under “Change how much content you hear,” there’s a new Hear advanced information about controls when navigating option that enables you to minimize the amount of conte you hear aloud when navigating the operating system, apps, and even toolpits. (If you must hear the content of a particular tooltip, you need to use the Narrator + 0 command.)
Starting with version 1903, the Settings app introduces a new page in the Cortana section called “Searching Windows,” which you can now use to manage search indexing settings.
Technically, Windows 10 is making available the indexing settings already available in Control Panel in the Settings app, but with additional features. For example, now you can select the Enhanced mode, which is a new feature that enables the operating system to search all your folders and drives, instead of only your documents, pictures, videos, and desktop.
You can also exclude folders that you don’t want participating in search, and there links to customize additional advanced search settings and fix common problems with the feature.
In the Troubleshoot page, you’ll find a new option called “Recommended troubleshooting,” which allows Windows 10 to detect and fix common problems automatically, removing the need for you to manually run a troubleshooter to resolve an issue.
“This feature uses diagnostic data you send to deliver a tailored set of fixes matching problems we detect on your device and will automatically apply them to your PC.” — Microsoft says.
In the Windows Update settings page, the new available options are not longer links, and now, they buttons with icon and descriptions. Also, you’ll now find the option to “Pause updates”, and when disabling automatic updates, you can now set the number of days that you want to delay updates.
While you can already configure Active Hours to prevent your device rebooting when you’re actively using it, starting with version 1903, there’s a new option that allows Windows 10 to automatically adjust active hours based on your computer activity. The new option is called “Automatically adjust active hours for me based on my daily usage,” and it’s available on Settings > Windows Update > Change active hours.
Finally, if you need to configure this feature, you’ll need to click the Change active hours button, and then click the Change link.
Windows 10 version 1903 now adds supports LEDBAT in uploads to Delivery Optimization peers on the same LAN (behind the same NAT). This feature should prevent congestion on the local network and allow peer-to-peer upload traffic to back off instantly when the network is utilized for higher priority traffic.
What’s new with input experience
This new feature update also introduces the Windows Ebrima font to read your ADLaM documents and websites.
According to Microsoft: “ADLaM is enabling literacy and growing in use for commerce, education, and publishing across western Africa. It was added to Unicode in Unicode 9.0. The Ebrima font also supports other African writings systems N’ko, Tifinagh, Vai and Osmanya.”
Narrator gets updated to work better with Google Chrome. Starting with Windows 10 19H1, you can use the up and down arrows in scan mode. You can navigate using the tab keys. You can use the continuous reading commands, and you can navigate by headings and links.
BRLTTY version 5.6 is now available with USB support for Inceptor and Orbit 20 displays. In addition, the BrailleNote Touch is recognized when using USB. Baum displays can now use B9 and B10 interchangeably. Liblouis binaries and tables have been updated to version 3.7.0.
The UI for Automation framework now includes support for IAccessible2 information from Google Chrome, which supports IAccessible2 rather than UI Automation. This enables UI Automation clients to receive the IAccessible2 information through the UI Automation client interfaces.
Narrator now includes “Read by Sentence,” which allows you to read next, current, and previous sentences with Narrator. The new feature is available with the keyboard and with touch. (Move by sentence doesn’t yet work for Braille.)
- Caps + Ctrl + Period (.): Reads next sentence.
- Caps + Ctrl + Comma (,): Reads current sentence.
- Caps + Ctrl + M: Reads previous sentence.
Sentence is now a new Narrator view and can be reached using the Caps + Page Up or Caps + Page Down keyboard shortcut, and then, you can navigate with Caps + Left arrow for move by previous sentence and Caps + Right arrow for move by next sentence.
Moving forward Narrator will now alert you when you’re accidentally typing with Caps Lock turned on. The setting is enabled by default. To adjust this setting, open the Narrator Settings (Ctrl + Win + N), then navigate to the “Change how much content you hear” heading and review the combo box for “Change when you receive Caps Lock warnings while typing”.
You can now use the text reading commands to scan the window. It’s also possible to use “read by sentence” command with a braille display hitting the dots 2-3-4 or 2-3-4-7 in command input mode. The view options are now more consistent, and you’ll hear control information more consistently.
Also, with version 1903, character phonetic reading will no longer announce the phonetic information (“a Alpha,” “b Bravo,” c “Charlie”) automatically. If you need the phonetic information to disambiguate characters, you can issue a command to hear the phonetics. Use the keyboard command of Narrator key + Comma twice quickly.
If you write in Vietnamese, Windows 10 now includes Vietnamese Telex and Number-key based (VNI) keyboards for the touch-based keyboard.
As part of the input improvements, you can now access even more symbols and special characters from the touch keyboard. Once in the number and symbols view (&123) on the touch keyboard, just tap the new ‘Ω ‘ key and you’ll now see a number of tabs with lists of symbols.
In addition to the Indic Traditional INSCRIPT keyboards already available, with this new version, Windows 10 is adding Indic Phonetic keyboards for Hindi, Bangla, Tamil, Marathi, Punjabi, Gujarati, Odia, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam.
“How does a phonetic keyboard work? Basically, it’s a convenient way of typing that leverages the English QWERTY keyboard – as you type, we use transliteration to suggest possible Indic text candidates. For example, if you typed “namaste” using the Hindi Phonetic keyboard we would suggest नमस्ते.” — Microsoft explains.
The SwitfKey feature that provides more accurate autocorrections and predictions when using the touch keyboard experience is now expanding to more languages, including:
- English (Canada) – en-CA
- English (India) – en-IN
- French (Canada) – fr-CA
- French (Belgium) – fr-BE
- French (Switzerland) – fr-CH
- Portuguese (Portugal) – pt-PT
- German (Switzerland) – de-CH
- Spanish (United States) – es-US
If you’re using a hardware keyboard, text suggestions are also supported with the above languages.
In this version, Windows 10 is updating the Japanese IME by redesigning how it works with applications, and the candidate window interface has been updated to be cleaner and more polished.
As part of this work, all your Japanese IME settings have now been fully integrated into Settings. If you would like to see them, the fastest way there is to right-click the IME mode indicator in the taskbar and select Settings.
Finally, this flight also ships with emoji 12, but it’s still a work in progress.
What’s new with system experience
As part of the 19H1 development, Microsoft is also introducing a new group policy for prevent the use of security questions for local accounts. This can be found under Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Credential User Interface.
In the Registry, when pressing the F4 key, you’ll see a caret at the end of the address bar, expanding the autocomplete drop-down.
In this major update, Windows 10 is also modifying the brightness behavior to prevent the display becoming brighter when moving from a battery charger to battery power.
“If a person adjusts their display brightness, that brightness will now be remembered as their preferred brightness whether they are on battery or connected to a charger.”
Ctrl + Mouse Wheel Scroll to zoom in text is now supported in Command Prompt, PowerShell and Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL).
In addition, when using dark system theme, the scrollbars for Command Prompt, PowerShell and WSL will now become dark as well.
What’s new with built-in apps
Here are the changes for built-in apps on Windows 10:
Windows Defender Application Guard
Windows 10 version 1903 also includes an updated version of Windows Security, which introduces new Windows Defender Application Guard options that allows you to manage access to your camera and microphone while browsing using this security feature for Microsoft Edge.
If you’re using a device manage by your company, you can check the settings that have been configured. For this to be turned on in Application Guard for Microsoft Edge, the camera and microphone setting must already be turned on for the device in Settings > Privacy > Microphone & Settings > Privacy > Camera.
Snip & Sketch
In the new experience to take screenshots on Windows 10, you’ll find a few additions, including:
- Option to add a border to your screenshots.
- Button in the toolbar so you can print directly from the app.
- If you have unsaved changes and go to close a window or open a file that will now pop a confirmation.
- File name now includes a timestamp.
- You can now save images as jpg and gif.
In addition with version 10.1809.2964.0, Snip & Sketch now has a settings page that replaces the old About page. In this new page, you’ll find the option to add a border, an option for updates made to your snip to copy automatically to your clipboard, and more.
If you use the snipping tool on Windows 10, starting with this preview, you’ll find a new option to take a screenshot of windows.
Sticky Notes is also getting some additional improvements, including:
- You can now use Sticky Notes in dark mode when switching the system to dark mode.
- You can now view notes in the cloud using this link: https://www.onenote.com/stickynotes.
Editor’s note: This guide includes features and improvements that appeared until Windows 10 build 18290. It should be noted that this guide focuses on features for consumers, as Microsoft is also adding other features aimed for enterprises, which aren’t included here. (This guide was originally published on September 4, 2018, and last updated on November 29, 2018.)