Category: Microsoft|Mar 16, 2020 | Author: Admin

Windows 10 version 2004 is coming - here's what you need to know about it

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We're once again approaching that time of the year when Microsoft releases a new feature update to Windows 10. In line with the version numbering scheme, we've been seeing, this update is currently known as Windows 10 version 2004, or 20H1, because it's being released in the first half of the year.

We're once again approaching that time of the year when Microsoft releases a new feature update to Windows 10. In line with the version numbering scheme, we've been seeing, this update is currently known as Windows 10 version 2004, or 20H1, because it's being released in the first half of the year.

While we did get a feature update in the second half of 2019, there was only a very small number of additions, and those additions were also minor in nature. It was more about refining the previous update than making significant leaps forward. Surprisingly, even though version 2004 is a more significant feature update, it's one of the smaller ones, despite having a longer period of testing with Insiders than what we've seen before.

With that being said, there are still a few changes and improvements to many parts of the experience, and if you want to know all about it, we've compiled this list for you. Let's get started.

Desktop environment and system apps
The new Cortana app

With Windows 10 version 2004, Microsoft is introducing a new version of Cortana, and it's not exactly good news if you enjoyed using the digital assistant. The new version of Cortana is focused almost exclusively on productivity, and it's losing capabilities related to music, smart home control, and other third-party functionality. What's more, Microsoft is killing Cortana on Android and iOS, as well as on Windows 10 versions that have reached the end of support.

It's not all bad, though. The new Cortana app has some advantages, too. You can move and resize the Cortana window around the screen, instead of having it docked to the taskbar. You can also set your preferred input method for Cortana, so using the keyboard shortcut to summon Cortana will either let you use the keyboard or your voice, depending on your preference. The new Cortana app also looks significantly different, with a more conversational UI that shows the history of your interactions with the assistant.

Finally, Cortana has improved some of its productivity-focused skills. There are e-mail and calendar skills, which let you send and check received e-mails, see your upcoming appointments, and even set up meetings. It's also possible to join Teams meetings using Cortana. The Windows skill can also be used to open apps or access certain parts of the settings.

Windows Subsystem for Linux 2

Windows 10 has allowed users to use Linux distributions inside Windows for some time now, thanks to the Windows Subsystem for Linux. Now, though, you'll be able to get a lot more performance out of it with version 2 of WSL. It starts by having Windows now ship with a full Linux kernel, which enables full system call compatibility, and the kernel will get updated just like Windows does, through Windows Update. WSL 2 also brings support for ARM64 devices, so if you have a Surface Pro X, that won't be a problem.

WSL 2 also greatly improves performance over the previous version, with Microsoft saying that unpacking a zipped tarball can be up to 20 times faster. Using git clone, npm install, and cmake, the company says you'll see speed improvements between two to five times. You can learn more about WSL 2 here, and head here for a list of all the improvements that have been made to the experience during the development period.

Notepad improvements

The Windows Notepad is one of the oldest pieces of software that's bundled with Windows, and it's not often that it gets significant improvements, but Windows 10 version 2004 brings plenty of goodness for those that use it. For starters, the Find feature can now find wrap-around text, and if you select text before opening the Find dialog, it will now populate the search box with the selected text automatically. Also, line numbers are now visible if you enable word-wrap.

Other improvements include an indicator in the title bar for when you have made unsaved changes, the ability to zoom in on the text in Notepad, and a new default encoding option, which is UTF-8 without a Byte Order Mark, enabling better compatibility with ASCII and the web. There are new shortcuts for opening a new Notepad window (Ctrl+Shift+N), opening the "Save as..." dialog (Ctrl+Shift+s) and closing the current window (Ctrl+W), and a handful of other smaller usability improvements.

Windows Search improvements

Microsoft has made a couple of improvements to Windows Search in this release, too. For starters, the search experience in File Explorer is now powered by Windows Search and has a refreshed design to go along with it. This enables search result suggestions as you type, and it also allows the search experience to integrate OneDrive results with the traditional searches.

Under the hood, Microsoft has improved the search indexer to reduce the impact on performance. It will stop indexing files if power saving mode is on, if the battery level is below 50%, if CPU or disk usage is too high, and so on. If you found that the search indexer was getting in the way of performance, this should be good news.

Windows Sandbox and virtual desktops

Windows Sandbox was officially introduced with the Windows 10 May 2019 Update, and with version 2004, there are a couple of improvements to the experience. For starters, you can now use configuration files with Windows Sandbox, so you can change certain settings such as enabling or disabling the vGPU, allowing network access, and more. Additionally, Windows Sandbox now supports microphones.

If virtual machines are too much for you, but you do use virtual desktops, you'll be happy to know that it's now possible to rename your virtual desktops, so you know right away what's inside each one.

Task manager

If you rely on Task Manager to know more about your hardware, it will be a little more useful now. Task Manager can now report GPU temperatures for dedicated GPUs, and it can also display the kind of disk you have (HDD or SSD).


Windows 10 version 2004 includes a fairly long list of improvements for users with special accessibility needs. If you use Eye Control, you'll find that it's now possible to drag and drop objects using your eyes. If you pause the Eye Control tool, it will now hide the launchpad completely so as to avoid getting in the way. It's also now possible to use a switch to perform a click, rather than having to look at the option you want to select for an extended period. Microsoft also refined the settings experience for Eye Control to give users more control over how the system responds to eye movement.

If you use the Narrator, it's now more efficient at reading tables, with less repeated information. On the web, Narrator can also now give you a page summary with a new shortcut (Narrator key + S), and doing this twice will also make it so that the Narrator highlights popular links within that page, as well as navigate directly to those links from the page summary. And if you're tired of "Click me" links showing up in the Narrator, you can use a key shortcut (Caps Lock + Ctrl + D) to have the link sent to an online service that will retrieve the page title and read it to you.

For e-mails, Narrator now works better with Outlook and the Windows 10 Mail app, entering Scan Mode when you open a message, and it can also recognize certain formatting choices, such as those in newsletters, and ignore them to prevent users from hearing unnecessary information. The Narrator is also more efficient at triaging your e-mail folders in Outlook, silencing certain information inside the e-mail message, such as column headers and empty columns. Instead, it will focus on the status of the e-mail subject, sender, and other relevant information for triaging your folders. Finally, Narrator also now reads e-mails and webpages automatically when you open them.

The Magnifier has also received a few improvements, starting with a new UI that supports the Windows theme settings and respects text scaling settings. Magnifier also has a new setting that keeps the text cursor in the center of the screen by default. The Magnifier also has three new reading modes - the play button will start reading from the top of the content, or from the selected text if you selected any, and the new "read from here button" will prompt you to choose where you want the Magnifier to start reading.

Finally, there's a new text cursor indicator that can help you find your text cursor more easily. This indicator can be customized from the Settings app, complete with a live preview of how it looks.

Accounts and security

Microsoft has made a few improvements to the user account experience, specifically for Microsoft accounts. Continuing its bid to get rid of passwords, it's now possible to disable password authentication altogether on your PC, forcing you to use biometrics or a PIN to log in. To go along with this, Safe Mode also now supports logging in using a PIN, so you never have to expose your password.

Another improvement to user accounts is that changing your profile picture will now be reflected much more quickly, not only across Windows but also apps that use your Microsoft account picture, like the new Edge browser, as well as Microsoft websites.

Finally, there's a new setting that lets you enable or disable apps from starting back up when you sign out and sign in again. This supports registered desktop apps as well as most UWP apps, but those will start in a suspended state and minimized to the taskbar to save resources. This setting is disabled by default.

Optional features management

The optional features page has been redesigned with a handful of new capabilities. For starters, it's now possible to select multiple optional features and install them all at once, and once you have installed a few, you can also go back and see when each of them was installed, as well as any dependencies they might have. Finally, navigation has made simpler by keeping you on the same page and opening pop-ups for actions such as installing new features.

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