Windows 10 20H1 (version 2003) new features
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Windows 10 version 2003 (20H1) spring 2020 update: All the new features and changes

UPDATED 8/17: Windows 10 version 2003 (20H1) is expected to rollout during spring 2020, and here are all the new features and changes that Microsoft has added to the new version thus far.

Windows 10 version 2003 will be the ninth major refresh since the original release that Microsoft is planning to release sometime in spring 2020 with new features and improvements. 

Also, codenamed “20H1,” this will be the first of two developments coming in 2020, and while we’re still a month away from the final release, thanks to the previews available in the Windows Insider Program, we’re now slowly starting to see the changes that will be available with this new update.

In this guide, we’ll highlight the new features and improvements planned for version 2003 as they appear in each test preview. (It’s unclear if the Microsoft will use the “May 2020 Update,” “April 2020 Update,” or another name for this feature update.)

What happened with Windows 10 19H2? According to the company, the 19H2 update is in the works, but some of the features planned for the 20H1 update need a longer leap time, which is the reason why we’re seeing previews of the next year feature update so early.

Info: This guide will get updated and republished with features and improvements as they become available through the Windows Insider Program. However, depending on when you’re reading this guide, some features and changes may still be missing. If this is the case, you can check this section with the latest updates.

What’s new with desktop experience on Windows 10 20H1

Start menu

Beginning with the 20H1 update, when opening the Start menu, you’ll notice a new list called “Start typing to search” with quick access to search for online results, apps, and documents, which should make it clear that users can simply start typing to search without the need to actually open the Search experience from the taskbar.

Start typing to search options on Windows 10 20H1
Start typing to search options on Windows 10 20H1

Also, the “Start typing to search” title sometimes changes to “Search for,” which is a different title aimed to lure users to select a search type from the list.

Windows Search improvements

The spell checker technology for Windows Search now intelligently understand and correct small typos for search queries, such as “powerpiont” and “exce;” which previously would return no results.

In addition, the search experience is also receiving an update to show related results when searching settings that don’t match the query. For example, if you type “free” the best match will include “Turn on storage sense” with a “Related: free up” label to help understand the result.

Windows Search on Windows 10 build 18963
Windows Search on Windows 10 build 18963 (image source Microsoft)

Taskbar 

If you use the Time & date flyout in the taskbar to view upcoming events, with this new version, you’ll also find a new option to create quick calendar events with time, location, and more, without the need to open the Calendar app.

Quick event option taskbar on Windows 10 20H1
Quick event option taskbar on Windows 10 20H1

Virtual desktops

If you use virtual desktops to separate your different tasks, you can now click the header of desktop and specify a custom name for each virtual desktop.

You can also right-click the thumbnail of the desired desktop in Task View, and a context menu with a Rename option in it should appear.

Rename virtual desktop option on Windows 10 20H1
Rename virtual desktop option on Windows 10 20H1

Cortana

Windows 10 now ships with a new Cortana app that updates through the Microsoft Store and provides a new chat-based interface with the ability to type or speak to the assistant.

Cortana app for Windows 10 20H1
Cortana app for Windows 10 20H1

The app now supports the light and dark theme available on Windows 10, and the new experience offers less intrusive screen for “Hey Cortana” queries that can stay in the flow while you work. Also, the assistant has been updated with new speech and language models, and significantly improved performance.

As a result of this change, you’ll no longer find references of Cortana in the homepage of the Settings app.

Settings without Cortana section
Settings without Cortana section

Or the “Speech” settings page.

Speech settings page without Cortana references
Speech settings page without Cortana references

File Explorer

Starting with Windows 10 version 2003, the search box in File Explorer is now controlled by Windows Search. This also means that the search box in File Explorer will integrate with OneDrive content online, just like when using search from the taskbar.

File Explorer search on Windows 10 version 2003
File Explorer search on Windows 10 version 2003

The File Explorer app has been updated with a drop-down list with your search history when you click the search box (or when using the CTRL + E shortcut to set focus to it), and the search experience has been updated to be dark when using the dark system mode.

In addition, starting with Windows 10 build 18956, when right-clicking a folder, you’ll no longer see the Homegroup options within the “Give access to” submenu.

File Explorer with HomeGroup removed in context menu
File Explorer with HomeGroup removed in context menu

Task Manager

In this update, you’ll even find an updated Task Manager “Performance” tab, which now shows the drive type (for example, SSD), which should come in handy on devices with multiple hard drives.

Task Manager with drive type in the Performance tab
Task Manager with drive type in the Performance tab

The “Performance” tab in Task Manager now adds support to monitor temperature on dedicated graphics cards.

GPU temperature on Windows 10 20H1
GPU temperature on Windows 10 20H1 (image source Microsoft)

Microsoft has updated the “Details” tab of Task Manager, and now when you right-click a process, a Provide Feedback will now be listed after End Task and End Process Tree (rather than between).

Task Manager Details tab
Task Manager Details tab

Action center and Notifications

Windows 10 20H1 also includes new refinements for the notification settings. For example, now notification toasts include an inline option to turn off notifications for that app or open the app’s notification settings.

Toast notifications settings on WIndows 10 20H1
Toast notifications settings on WIndows 10 20H1

A new direct link has been added at the top of the Action Center to manage notifications. (In order to accommodate this change, Windows 10 moved the “no notifications” text down to the middle of the Action Center.)

Notifications in Action center on WIndows 10 20H1
Notifications in Action center on WIndows 10 20H1

Windows Ink Workspace

In addition, this new 20H1 update, when opening the Windows Ink Workspace, you’ll notice a new interface, which is significantly smaller, and Windows 10 is now converging the whiteboarding experiences with a new direct link to the Microsoft Whiteboard app.

Windows Ink Workspace for Windows 10 20H1
Windows Ink Workspace for Windows 10 20H1

What’s new with Settings experience on Windows 10 20H1

Sounds

Starting with version 2003, the App Volume and devices preferences in the Settings app is getting interface tweaks to make the experience a little more usable.

App volume and device preferences on Windows 10 20H1
App volume and device preferences on Windows 10 20H1

Notifications & actions

In the Notifications & actions page, Windows 10 is adding some new changes, including an option to mute all notifications with a new top-level option in “Notifications” section, and you can now sort the list by which apps most recently sent notifications to quickly find the apps and change its settings.

Notifications settings on Windows 10 19H2
Notifications settings on Windows 10 19H2

In the app’s notification settings, you’ll find pictures to help understand the impact of the settings.

Notifications settings for Windows 10 apps
Notifications settings for Windows 10 apps

Storage

The Storage page isn’t getting significant improvements, but now under the More storage settings section, you’ll find a new option to access the backup settings page.

Mouse

In this new version, the Mouse page has been updated to include an option to change the cursor speed without the need to use Control Panel.

Mouse page with Cursor speed setting
Mouse page with Cursor speed setting

Pen & Windows Ink

In the Pen & Windows Ink page there’s a lot of new changes, but you’ll now find an option to disable app suggestions when using the Windows Ink Workspace experience.

Disable Windows Ink Workspace app recommendations
Disable Windows Ink Workspace app recommendations

Optional Features

In addition, this Windows 10 20H1 update is adding changes to make the Optional Features settings more usable, including the ability to select and install multiple optional features at the same time.

Optional Features settings on Windows 10 version 2003
Optional Features settings on Windows 10 version 2003 (image source Microsoft)

You can now search through lists of optional features and sort them by Name, Size, and Install date. Also, it’s possible to see the install date for each optional feature in your “Installed features” list. Microsoft also added feature dependencies to the description of each optional feature in the list of features available for install.

You can now view the status of your latest installs, uninstalls, and cancels right on the main page in the “Latest actions” section, and it’s now possible to add optional features and view your history via pop-up dialogues.

Status

The Status page is getting an update with a new view of active connections and quick access to change settings.

If you have multiple connections, only the one connected to the internet will be shown in the Status diagram at the top of the page.

Status settings on Windows 10 20H1
Status settings on Windows 10 20H1

In addition, you can now see how much data is being used by a network right from the Status page. If it looks like you’re using a lot of data, you can access the “Data Usage page” to create a limit for that network, which will warn you if you get close or go over your limit. You can also see how much data each app is using on that network.

Furthermore, the Show available networks option now appears a button with icon and description, and you can no longer access the Control Panel’s Networking and Sharing Center from this page.

Data usage

Starting with the 20H1 development, Windows 10 is removing the Data usage tab from the main “Network & Internet” listing. However, the settings are not gone, they’re accessible on a per-connection basis in the “Status” page.

Sign-in options

In the Sign-in options settings page, Windows 10 is introducing a new Make your device passwordless option, which when enabled will switch your Microsoft accounts (those configured on your device) to modern authentication with Windows Hello Face, Fingerprint, or PIN. (This option will remove the password option from the Sign-in page and across the OS.)

Windows 10 Sign-in options settings with passwordless setting
Windows 10 Sign-in options settings with passwordless setting

Language

Starting with this new version, the Language settings page is getting revamped to make it easier to understand your current settings.

In the page, you’ll now see an overview section lets you quickly know which languages are configured as default for their Windows display, Apps & websites, Regional format, Keyboard, and Speech.

Furthermore, each icon is actionable, which means that if something doesn’t look correct, you can click the settings to change it.

Language settings on Windows 10 20H1
Language settings on Windows 10 20H1

Also, when installing a new language, you’ll notice that features are a bit clear to understand, and you can hover over each feature to get a tooltip that will appear with a description.

Language install improvements with tooltip on Windows 10 20H1
Language install improvements with tooltip on Windows 10 20H1

Narrator

Alongside many tweaks and improvements, the Narrator page is also getting updated with new settings to change how to capitalize the text is read. The new options include, “Don’t announce,” “Increase pitch,” and “Say cap.” Under the “Change what your hear when reading and interacting” section, you’ll also find an option to allow experimental features using Outlook.

Change what you hear when reading and interacting settings
Change what you hear when reading and interacting settings

In addition, at the bottom of the page, there’s a new “Get image descriptions, page titles, and popular links” section that allows to decide whether to get information about images and links using the Narrator + Ctrl + D keyboard shortcut, or the Page summary using the Narrator + S shortcut on web pages.

Narrator images and links information settings
Narrator images and links information settings

Text cursor

Beginning with Windows 10 20h1, Narrator now includes a new new Text cursor indicator will help you see and find the text cursor wherever you are at any time. (Select from a range of sizes for the text cursor indicator and make it a color easy for you to see.)

You can enable the new feature, in the new Text cursor page, in the Ease of Access settings, and turning on the text cursor indicator.

Text cursor page on Windows 10 20H1
Text cursor page on Windows 10 20H1

Also, as a result of these new changes, the Cursor & pointer page has now been renamed to Mouse pointer.

Magnifier 

The Magnifier page no longer includes “Collapse Magnifier window to a floating transparent magnifying” option.

The page includes a new “Keep the mouse pointer” menu to keep the text cursor in the center of the screen making it easier and smoother to type.

Magnifier settings on Windows 10 version 2003
Magnifier settings on Windows 10 version 2003

In addition, there’s a new Reading section to adjust the Magnifier Reading Modifier key behavior. Options include “Control + Alt,” “Caps Lock,” “Insert,” and “Caps Lock or Insert.”

As part of the Magnifier interface changes, the experience includes three new ways to start reading, including “Play,” “Selected text,” and “Read from here.” This new version includes dark theme support has been added in addition to text sizing options.

 
Magnifier UI on Windows 10 20H1
Magnifier UI on Windows 10 20H1

Diagnostics & feedback

The Diagnostics & feedback page doesn’t include new settings, but starting with the 20H1 update, the page no longer includes “Recommended troubleshooting” settings.

Diagnostic & feedback page without Recommended Troubleshooting settings
Diagnostic & feedback page without Recommended Troubleshooting settings

Delivery Optimization

After installing the 20H1 update, you’ll also notice that the Delivery Optimization settings page now includes new settings to throttle the bandwidth as an absolute value. You can set this separately for Foreground downloads or background downloads.

Delivery Optimization for Windows 10 20H1
Delivery Optimization for Windows 10 20H1

Backup

The Backup settings also receives some minor tweaks to include a reference to backup your files on the Desktop, Documents, and Pictures to cloud using OneDrive.

Backup settings with option to backup files to OneDrive
Backup settings with option to backup files to OneDrive

Troubleshoot

In the Troubleshoot page, you will no longer find a list of troubleshooters that you can use to fix Windows 10.

Troubleshoot page without troubleshooters on Windows 10 20H1
Troubleshoot page without troubleshooters on Windows 10 20H1

However, they haven’t been removed, they just been moved to a separate page (Additional troubleshooters).

Additional troubleshooters page on Windows 10 20H1
Additional troubleshooters page on Windows 10 20H1

Narrator

The 20H1 update for Windows 10 also introduces Narrator improvements, including:

  • Improved efficiency when reading tables. Only the deltas are read when navigating. Entering and exiting tables is also less verbose.
  • New command in Narrator to give a webpage summary (Narrator + S).
  • Ability to read the header data first, followed by the cell data, followed by the row and column position for that particular cell. In addition, it only reads the headers when the headers have changed allowing you to focus on the content of the cell.
  • Search mode will now reset scoping to all elements each time it is opened.
  • Ability to automatically start reading web pages and emails (Mail and Outlook). When the feature detects a webpage or email, it’ll start reading at the main landmark, or will fall back to a reasonable paragraph. Using the Outlook app, Narrator will mark the status of each email (for example, unread and forwarded messages), columns (such as from and subject), and irrelevant information will be skipped. To enable the the ability to read headers, you can use the Narrator + H shortcut.
  • Scan mode now enables automatically when opening message letting you to access the shortcuts and use the arrow keys to read the text.

Narrator in Outlook and Mail

As you read your emails in Outlook, such as the inbox, Narrator now reads the information more efficiently. Each line item now starts with the status of the email, such as unread and forwarded, followed by the other columns, such as from or subject. Column headers will be silenced and columns with no data or that have the default (expected value) will be silenced, such as normal importance or unflagged. While in Outlook, headers can be turned back on by pressing Narrator + H which will toggle their reading on and off.

In this new version, Windows 10 is also improving Narrator to offer a more efficient reading experience when reading messages in Outlook or the Mail app.

When you open the message, Scan Mode will turn on automatically. This allows you to use your arrow keys to read the message in addition to all other Scan Mode hotkeys to jump through the text of the message.

Also, Narrator now removes the unnecessary information about the table to allow you to quickly move through the text contained in the message.

Eye Control

Starting with Windows 10 20H1, Eye Control (the feature that helps users with disability to control their device with their eyes) introduces several new features:

Drag-and-drop

You can now perform drag-and-drop with Eye Control. When the feature is enabled from the settings screen, the precise mouse control tool now allows mouse drag operations, as well as the ability to combine clicks and drags with Shift and Ctrl modifier keys.

Pause

Selecting the pause button now hides the launchpad. When dismissed, the launchpad reappears when you briefly close your eyes or look away from the screen. Also, it allows eye gaze enabled applications to be used without triggering Eye Control features.

Switch support

Using the dwell method now allows to perform a switch method. In this method, dwell is used to select the target, but clicking a button is done with switch. Currently switches on joysticks, or devices emulating joysticks, are supported.

System

Developers can now create custom gaze enabled applications using the open source Gaze Interaction Library in the Windows Community Toolkit.

Settings

Eye Control settings page has been updated. Some of the changes include enabling some of the new features and more fine control of the numeric values that change how responsive the system is to eye movements.

Eye Control settings on Windows 10 20H1
Eye Control settings on Windows 10 20H1

What’s new with input experience on Windows 10 20H1

SwiftKey

Microsoft SwiftKey technology that gives you more accurate autocorrections and predictions by learning your writing behavior using the touch and hardware keyboard is expanding to 39 additional languages.

Dictation

Microsoft dictation technology is expanding to 12 additional languages.

Japanese IME improvements

If you write in Japanese, this new version of Windows 10 ships with an updated IME experience, which is more secure, more stable, and improves game compatibility.

In addition, Microsoft updated the default assigned value of Ctrl + Space to be “None,” and Ctrl + Space can still be used for toggling IME on and off by changing the value through its setting.

In the case that you type in Chinese, the operating system introduces new versions of the Chinese Simplified IMEs (Pinyin and Wubi), as well as the Chinese Traditional IMEs (Bopomofo, ChangJie and Quick).

Microsoft has improved the security and reliability of the experience. Starting with the 20H1 update, you’ll also notice a cleaner interface for the candidate window and settings pages. (The new settings of the Microsoft Input Method Editors are available within the Settings app.)

Also, Windows 10 updates the Chinese Pinyin IME settings to now refer to “Default” mode, rather than Input mode. 

Korean IME improvements

If you type in Korean, there’s an updated version of IME that’s more secure, reliable, and includes an improved design. The updated experience also improved the algorithm used for text prediction when writing Korean using the touch keyboard. Text suggestions should now be more accurate and relevant when writing.

In addition, the Ctrl + Space keyboard shortcut now is set to “None.” In the case that you need to use the shortcut for toggling the Input Method Editor on or off, you’ll need to adjust the settings inside the Key & touch customization page.

Chinese IME improvements

If you use Windows 10 in Chinese, version 2003 improves the speed of toggling conversion mode (中 mode and 英 mode).

You can now disable the Shift + Space keyboard shortcut right-clicking the 中/英 icon in the taskbar and going to Settings > General  and disabling the Use Shift + Space to switch character width option.

Also, you now get the ability to change the candidate font size, separate from the rest of the system if you find that you need it to be a bit bigger from the General settings page.

What’s new with system experience on Windows 10 20H1

The out-of-box experience (OOBE) now includes a lock icon for private networks.

Windows Subsystem for Linux 2

Starting with version 2003, Windows 10 ships with Windows Subsystem for Linux 2, which is a new version of the feature that runs ELF64 Linux binaries.

This new architecture uses a real Linux kernel, and as a result it changes the way that Linux binaries interact with Windows 10 and the hardware while maintaining the same experience like in the previous version.

Microsoft says that this new version delivers a much faster file system performance and full system call compatibility, which lets you run more applications like Docker.

In this new version, you will also be able to connect Windows Subsystem for Linux version 2 networking applications using localhost.

WSL now includes new global configuration options that you can apply to each distro. This also allows you to specify options that relate to the WSL 2 virtual machine (VM), as all your WSL 2 distros run inside of the same VM. Perhaps the most significant option that you’re getting is the ability to specify a custom Linux kernel.

You can learn more about WSL version 2 in this Microsoft website.

Searching Windows

In this new version, to improve system performance while compiling and syncing large code bases in the default indexed location, Windows 10 is updating the indexing behavior to exclude common developer folders, such as .git, .hg, .svn, .Nuget, and more by default.

Sync settings engine

Starting with build 18932, Microsoft begins the upgrade for the settings sync engine to a better and more reliable engine, and as a result, this feature may not work as expected until the changes are fully made in the cloud.

What’s new with apps experience on Windows 10 20H1

Notepad

Starting with version 2003, Notepad introduces the ability to restore unsaved content after installing an update.

In addition, Notepad is now an app updateable from the Microsoft Store, which means that the note taking app will no longer depend on major releases of Windows 10 to get updates.

Snip & Sketch

As part of the improvements for the app to take screenshots on Windows 10, version 2003 introduces single window mode, which opens new snips in the same window, instead of having a window open for each snip when taking multiple screenshots.

You can now zoom in on your screenshots if they’re too small for you to annotate on (and CTRL + Plus, CTRL + Minus and Ctrl + Mouse wheel are supported).

In addition, this new version also is improving the discoverability of the Windows + Shift + S shortcut by adding a reference to use the shortcut on the canvas when you open the app.

Feedback Hub

Windows 10 20H1 also ships with an updated version of the Feedback Hub app with a new feature called “Find similar feedback.” The new feature looks at your feedback for similar existing feedback as you type.

Feedback Hub similar feedback feature
Feedback Hub similar feedback feature

If there’s a similar feedback, you can add your comment to existing feedback, or you can create a new one.

Calculator

This new version also includes an updated version of the Calculator app, which has a new “Always on Top” mode to keep the app always visible.

Calculator app with Always on Top mode
Calculator app with Always on Top mode

Microsoft Defender

Starting with Windows 10 version 2003, the software giant is extending Windows Defender ATP capabilities beyond the OS, and as a result Microsoft is renaming “Windows Defender” to “Microsoft Defender” to reflect our cross-platform approach to endpoint security.

Microsoft Defender on Windows 10 20H1
Microsoft Defender on Windows 10 20H1

Editor’s note: This guide includes features and improvements that appeared until Windows 10 build 18963. 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 April 15, 2019, and last updated on August 17, 2019.)