Microsoft began the development of their seventh feature update for Windows 10 back on July 25, 2018 when they released Build 18204 to Windows Insiders.

Since then, there have been a total of eight Skip Ahead and eleven Fast Ring builds released to Windows Insiders for testing. 

I have observed along the way in my weekly podcast that the focus for this feature update, which is being developed under the code name 19H1,  seems to be sticking with a fit and finish approach. What I mean by this is they are working on user interface and experience elements of the operating system instead of adding big new bell and whistle type features.

After the craziness of last year with the October 2018 Update, Microsoft needs a winner in so many different ways. By paying attention to the look, feel, and performance of the operating systems interface and experience, this could really help the company reach a solid release when 19H1 comes out in the March/April time frame.

Based on past development cycles, we are likely about 4 weeks away from Microsoft declaring Windows 10 (19H1) feature complete. What that means for all of us is that there will not be anymore changes made to the operating system. The remaining builds will be used to focus on stability and squash the final list of know issues and bugs.

Note: This week, beginning on January 23 and concluding on February 3, 2019, Microsoft will hold a Windows 10 (19H1) Bug Bash. As part of that event, the Windows Insider team will also host a Bug Bash webcast on January 29, 2019 at 1:00 PM Eastern Standard Time on their Mixer Channel

The remainder of this article will be used to highlight some of the work that has been done on Windows 10 (19H1) over this development cycle to bring you up to speed on what to expect when this feature update arrives in a couple of months.

Reserved Storage

This capability was added to insure that enough disk space is set aside so that it can be used during future feature update upgrades. One of the bigger issues that impacts feature update installations is a lack of disk space for files to be copied and moved during the process. 

Fiber Local Storage (FSL) Slot Limit Increase

This is one musicians will appreciate because it enables their Digital Audio Workstations to have more channels and capabilities by avoiding a previous limit on FLS on a single system.

Reset this PC User Interface

Changes to this allow for a more streamlined reset experience, i.e. fewer clicks, and it takes into account different hardware configurations to give a more consistent experience during a system reset.

Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) Command Line Tool

Additional options have been added to assist with WSL management include consolidated command line options, easier sideloading of distro’s to non-system drives, and an export option so you can save your WSL environment to a TAR file for distribution.

Windows Hello PIN Reset

You can now initiate a reset of your PIN which uses a similar process to resetting a password. The reset option now appears on the Lock Screen when using Windows Hello.

Using Password-Less Microsoft Account

This is a continued push to eliminate the use of passwords for logging into Windows 10 based systems. This option supports setting up and logging into Windows 10 using your phone number. No need to create a password with this configuration. You validate the phone number using an SMS code and then you can setup Windows Hello (Face, Fingerprint, or PIN) to log into your device in the future.

Accessibility

A couple of additions have been made to Accessibility in this feature update:

  • More voices for Narrator in other languages that can be used without downloading language packs.
  • Narrator Home navigation has been improved by replacing list view items with buttons so you can Tab between them.
  • Additional improvements have been made for reading of controls, table reading in PowerPoint, better navigation with Chrome and Narrator, and better interactions with Chrome’s menu with Narrator
  • Eleven new sizes for Mouse Cursors and Pointers have been added increasing the total number of options to 15.

Simplified Start Menu Layout

A one column design is now the default when setting up a new account, device, or performing a clean install on Windows 10. This is in addition to other enhancements for the Start Menu:

  • Ability to uninstall additional inbox apps
  • Easily unpin a folder or group of tiles together
  • Start Menu now runs in a separate service so that a desktop shell experience crash does not also impact your Start Menu and vice versa.

Windows Sandbox

This virtualized desktop is an environment which allows you to execute questionable executable files by giving you a walled off Windows 10 desktop to test within. Once you have used this temporary environment, just close Windows Sandbox and all of the related data that was created during that testing session is removed from your system.

Think of this as the Windows Defender Application Guard (WDAG) option that is available for Microsoft Edge except you get an entire desktop instead of just a browser window.

Windows Security App

A new protection history section has been added so that you can view detections by Windows Defender Antivirus and easily see additional information about the threat and what remediation actions are available.

Tamper Protection has been added to prevent changes to important security features and limit those changes by non-admin users.

Clipboard History

The Windows Clipboard, sometimes referred to as Cloud Clipboard, continues its development with a change in the UI to make the entries more compact. This means less blank space is displayed when the clipboard is invoked using the “WINDOWS KEY + V” keyboard shortcut.

Recommended Troubleshooting

These new troubleshooting options can be used to adjust your user experience in Windows 10 in case an app or feature crashes unexpectedly. A prompt will let you know that an option is available to troubleshoot that issue so that you can initiate the process. The interaction for these recommendations appear as a toast notification in the Action Center.

Task Manager

You can now designate any one of the tabs in Task Manager to be your default when opening the diagnostic and monitoring utility.

Settings Home

When you open the modern Windows Settings app on Windows 10, you will now see a new banner across the top with some key account information for quick and easy access. Currently what you see here is not configurable by the user.

File Explorer Friendly Dates

If you like the idea of seeing dates in your list of files and folders in File Explorer that are more user friendly then this change will give you that option by default. Instead of just seeing a list of dates and times, you will now see references like Just now, 38 minutes ago, and July 5 instead.

You can turn this new default view off in File Explorer if you prefer the more detailed view of dates and times.

Sign-In Options

Security for your accounts can now be setup directly from the Sign-in Options page in Windows Settings rather than having to use a separate settings page. This is part of Microsoft’s goal to streamline as many settings as possible.

Windows Light Theme

As dark themes/modes have continued to gain in popularity, Microsoft has added a new Windows Light theme as part of this feature update to give users an option that is in between Dark and Light modes in the current OS configuration. 

Windows Snip

The replacement for the popular Snipping Tool has added the ability to capture delayed snips and snips of the active window. I still would like to see the automatic saving of all snips instead of having to do so manually but eventually this will replace the deprecated Snipping Tool.

Windows Update

Windows 10 Home users now have an option to pause updates for seven days. This is a perfect setting if you need to make sure your system will not be disrupted for a week long period such as during travel. After the seven day pause period, a full Windows Update check must be performed with any pending updates getting installed before the system can be paused again for seven days.

Wrap-Up

This is not an exhaustive list of improvements and changes in Windows 10 (19H1). I have no doubt there have been under the hood see an exhaustive list of work that has been done over on the Windows Insider Program documentation page work and of course in other areas of the user interface. You can to get fully up to speed on what has been done since July of last year when development began on this feature update.

Update Caveat

As with all pre-release software, Microsoft could opt to remove any of these new additions to the feature update prior to its final release. With many of these, we are reaching a point that most of them are well tested and likely will remain but there is always an outside chance something could change leading up to release.

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