This week we have finally heard an update about the next feature update for Windows 10 which is expected this fall.

The last official word we heard about Windows 10 (19H2) was around the time the Windows 10 May 2019 Update was being released about six weeks ago. At that time, Microsoft told us that 19H2 bits would be forthcoming this spring after the May 2019 Update development wrapped up.

Although the official end of spring was about ten days earlier, those first 19H2 bits arrived this week as July began the second half of 2019. Not only did we hear the companies plans for the second update of 2019, but the first testing build was also made available.

Windows 10 (19H2) Build 18362.10000

If that build number looks familiar, that is because the main build number, 18362, matches the main build number of the recently released Windows 10 May 2019 Update. It was released as Build 18362.145 and after its first two monthly cumulative updates, it is now on Build 18362.207.

The reason the first build of Windows 10 (19H2) shares the main build number with the May 2019 Update is that the fall update for Windows 10 will not be a full-fledged feature update but a cumulative update that focuses on stability and performance instead of a slew of new features. Over the course of Windows 10’s release history, cumulative updates have been made available monthly to address security, bugs, and performance. That is the planned delivery method for the 19H2 update instead of using a completely new Windows 10 build like past feature updates.

Since earlier this year, when Microsoft pushed the Windows 10 (20H1) feature update into the Skip Ahead ring to begin testing, the general belief has been that Microsoft might be looking to focus the 19H2 update on stability and performance. That is exactly what is happening and this is a huge benefit to both consumers and commercial customers. I wrote about the enterprise/education angle of this change over to ITProToday for my day job.

In that article, I talked about how this looks and smells like a service pack and that is basically what we are looking at come September when Microsoft is targetting shipping this update.

I don’t expect to see Microsoft come out and call it a service pack nor does it look like they are ready to say this is a change for the future of Windows as a Service (WaaS) as reported by Rich Woods over at NeoWin. Personally, if this upgrade cycle, with the focus just on stability and performance, goes well then it is very likely Microsoft will shift to this approach. Basically, it means a major feature update build in the spring full of new features and then a cumulative update in the fall for a minor update focused on all the things we have already mentioned about 19H2. This is a good thing for consumers and commercial customers.

We already know the 19H2 update is different from past testing cycles for Windows 10 because it is going to be delivered via a cumulative update. The other difference for Windows Insiders is the use of the Slow Ring for these testing updates instead of the Fast Ring like past feature updates.

It makes sense because currently Fast Ring is being used for 20H1, the first feature update for 2020, and Skip Ahead is closed after it was merged back into Fast Ring for 20H1 a few weeks ago. The Release Preview ring is used between Windows 10 updates to test apps, drivers, and firmware so it is not available for 19H2 either – that leaves it in the Slow Ring for now. 

If you want to test 19H2 you will have to move one of your Windows 10 May 2019 Update devices into the Slow Ring. If you only have devices in the Fast Ring for 20H1, then that means a clean install of Windows 10 (Version 1903) will be necessary to shift over to 19H2’s Slow Ring access.

Microsoft also stated that there could be some enterprise features made available in 19H2 but they would be pushed out as controlled feature rollouts (CFRs). That basically means they will be there but turned off and be activated by Microsoft during testing to make sure update quality remains solid. I just get the feeling that these are going to be small tweaks rather than full feature enhancements.

You can learn more about the new servicing approach for 19H2 from Microsoft and read the release notes for Windows 10 (19H2) Build 18362.10000 over on the official Microsoft blog.

Windows 10 (20H1) Build 18932

It has been two weeks since a new build was released for 20H1 so it was a nice bonus this week to not only here about 19H2’s future, but to also get a new build for the first feature update in 2020. 

According to the Windows 10 (20H1) Feature Update Client Build Tracker for PCs I maintain over on ITProToday.com, this is already the 18th build for 20H1 that has been released for public testing by Windows Insiders.

Considering that past feature updates at this point in the schedule would not normally be getting tested so far out from their expected release date, this feature update is likely to set a record for the number of testing builds which are made available publicly to testers. That is going to be a very good thing for this feature update because extensive testing is a plus for any major operating system update.

This new build, 18932, has quite a few enhancements to its feature set that can now be checked out.

Eye Control Improvements

Accessibility has been and continues to be a big focus for Microsoft in Windows 10. The eye controls that shipped with past Windows 10 feature updates were significant updates to what existed before but it looks like they are taking things to another level in 20H1.

Updates to eye control in Windows 10 being tested in this build include:

  • Drag and Drop support
  • Pause update for launchpad to allow better full-screen viewing
  • Switch to use physical hardware buttons to activate on-screen controls
  • Settings update to manage more eye control options
  • Gaze Interaction Library open-source library available for developers to create their own gaze enabled apps

Among other accessibility features in Windows 10, the Narrator can now be set to automatically being reading webpages and emails. Plus the Magnifier UI has been updated to work with Dark theme and text sizing options in font settings.

Notifications

There is now a shortcut on a notification toast so that you can quickly adjust what apps can show alerts. This prevents you from having to dive down into app settings to adjust these settings. Two click access to turn off those notifications now – very quick.

The settings page for app notifications has also been updated to add images to help explain the display options for banners (toasts) or alerts in the action center. Makes it much easier to understand what you are activating/deactivating.

One last thing changed is the ability to sort apps in the notification settings based on the last app to send you a notification – makes it much easier to find and turn off alerts from that specific app.

Your Phone

While not a part of the operating system itself, the Your Phone app is highlighted in these release notes because of some features being added or made more widely available to users. 

First, the ability to see Your Phone notifications on your connected PC is now available to all users of Windows 10 April 2018 Update or higher. 

If you are on the May 2019 Update or higher, this integration between Your Phone and your connected PC is being further enhanced. If your hardware supports the screen mirroring capabilities of Your Phone, then clicking on app alerts in the Action Center will activate screen mirroring so you can interact with the app using your PCs mouse and keyboard. According to Microsoft, texting notifications will still be in the messaging tab of Your Phone.

Finally, some touch interaction is now possible between your connected device with touch capability and the Your Phone app when using screen mirroring. One-touch taps and long presses are supported in the Your Phone app on your PC to interact with items on your phone.

There are some known issues which you can review in the Build 18932 release notes.

You will also see the list of general changes, improvements, fixes and known issues in those same release notes.

Bottom Line

As the heat of summer is settling in across the northern hemisphere, the testing is heating up as well. Dive in, poke around, and report all the bugs you find. 

Enjoy!

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