Despite Windows 10 having been released back in 2015, it has received a steady stream of updates since then. Microsoft adds new features to its software twice a year, in addition to monthly security patches and the occasional bug fix.

The major releases usually take place in November and May, with the latest one arriving on 28 May 2020. Here's everything you need to know about the update, known as 20H1.

When was the Windows 10 May update released?

The Windows 10 May 2020 update was made available to everyone on 28 May. 

Previously, only members of the Windows Insider Program had access to the latest version, allowing them to 'road test' the new software before it was rolled out to all users. 

Indeed, during this period a security issue was discovered, forcing Microsoft to delay the 20H1 update's release until the end of the month. 

How to get the Windows 10 May 2020 update

If you're already using a device running Windows 10, the upgrade process is relatively simple:

  1. Open Settings and choose Update & Security then Windows Update
  2. Click on the button that says 'Check for Updates' and you should see 'Feature update to Windows 10, version 2004'
  3. Click 'Download and install now' to update your device

If you don't see anything when checking for updates, it might not be quite ready for your device. There are hundreds of Windows 10 devices out there, so it's worth checking back in a few days. 

Which devices is the Windows 10 update be available on?

If your PC or laptop is already running Windows 10, it's highly likely that the May 2020 update is available to you. 

Microsoft assures on its website that 'Windows 10 is designed to deliver updates for the supported lifetime of the device'.

The company would usually announce end of device support long ahead of a major release, so we're not expecting compatibility to change until at least the November 2020 update.

What new features are there in the Windows 10 update?

The 20H1 update is modest by Microsoft's standards, but there are still a number of key upgrades to the user experience. 

Reputation-based Protection

Windows 10 has had problems with bugs in recent months, but a new tool should help with the security of the operating system.

As Tech Radar reported, Reputation-based Protection is new program that will stop malicious programs from being unintentionally installed on your device. This often comes when you download an app and multiple other pieces of software are installed at the same time. 

The new tool will block these by default, giving you control over what is installed on your device. Upon installing the May update, you'll just have to head to settings to activate it. Choose 'Update & Security' - 'Windows Security' and choose 'App & browser control'.

In here, there should be an option for 'Reputation-based Protection settings'

Update & Security’, then select ‘Windows Security > App & browser control’.

From there, you should see ‘Reputation-based Protection Settings'. Click it, then enable ‘Potentially Unwanted app blocking’ and choose ‘Block apps’ and ‘Block downloads’.

Cortana overhaul

It's been lagging behind the likes of Google Assistant and Alexa in recent years, and Microsoft has even confirmed that Cortana is no longer competing to be the top virtual assistant

With that in mind, it was removed was removed from the Start Menu in the May 2019 update. Cortana remains an important part of the Windows 10 experience, although from May 2020 onwards its services will be available in a standalone app. 

However, as Microsoft reported in an official blog post, Cortana has become much smarter. Some of the most notable improvements include integration with more Microsoft apps and a clear emphasis on productivity. Cortana can still tell a joke or answer trivia using Bing, but its most useful features arise from links to the Calendar, To-Do and Microsoft Office apps. 

As was the case with the mobile app, Cortana is also be much more conversational. You'll be able to type out commands in addition to using your voice too, while the window can be moved around your screen to fit in around your workflow. 

Updated File Explorer

The File Explorer is set for a long-overdue overhaul, although that didn't arrive in the May update. Instead there are a handful of noticeable changes, including an improved search function and rounded corners on the window. 

There's also been plenty of glitches in File Explorer recently, which Microsoft will aim to iron out for a more reliable user experience. 

Changes to tablet mode

With Microsoft's own Surface line leading the way when it comes to 2-in-1 laptops, it's perhaps understandable that Windows 10 is continuing to tweak its tablet mode. 

The update makes it less intrusive, no longer prompting you to switch to a tablet as soon as you disconnect a keyboard. Instead, it delivers a more intuitive experience for touch, with more spaced out icons and a touch-friendly version of the File Explorer.

Improvements to PowerToys

This is one for the OG Windows fans. Power Toys was reintroduced in 2019, having previously not been available the days of Windows XP. Despite being aimed primarily at power users, various shortcuts and customisation tools can be useful for anyone. 

Among them is the ability to rename files and resize images in bulk, alongside a host of additional keyboard shortcuts. If applied properly, they could be a huge time-saver. 

Check out our guide to PowerToys

Big changes in future updates

While they didn't arrive in the May update, some big cosmetic changes look to be coming to Windows 10 in the near future. 

The Start Menu will be redesigned to look more slick and modern. Live tiles will be refined, while the arrangement of apps will adjust more efficiently according to how you use them. This is one area of the operating system which has received little attention since Windows 10 was launched in 2015, so it's a welcome update. 

Windows Latest is also reporting that Microsoft has big plans for updates in 2021, which might include the revamped Start Menu. 

Alongside this, Microsoft has revealed brand new icons for some of its most recognisable programs. Office apps, Outlook and Teams all have a clean, fresh new look. It has been important for Microsoft to modernise the look and feel of Windows 10 without losing its identity. 

It's hoped that number of other upgrades under the hood will ensure the next version of Windows 10 is much more stable. A number of bugs in recent months mean Microsoft has a point to prove, with more people relying on its software than ever before. 

Still on the fence? Read why you should get the Windows 10 May update