Hands-on with the Windows 10 November 2019 Update (Video)

Through the years, quality control issues have stained the reputation of Windows 10 feature updates. Many people sat through the updates wondering whether or not their devices would continue working correctly afterward. In response, Microsoft is changing tack. This time around, performance and quality improvements are the focus for Windows Update.

Because this update is focused primarily on performance and quality enhancements, there aren’t a whole lot of exciting new features to look at. This update is so small that you may not even notice when it happens. Similar to the monthly cumulative updates, the November 2019 Update (version 1909) will download onto your device when you check for updates in the Windows Settings. The installation process will be significantly quicker. This update builds on top of the May 2019 Update, requiring only a restart to take place. Unless you’re a commercial customer or updating from an older version of Windows 10, you won’t have to sit through the extended update and installation process.

Start Menu

Of the visible changes in this Update, most of them are improvements to the user interface. On the Start Menu, the navigation pane will now expand automatically when the mouse pointer hovers over it. This change improves the discoverability of the items on the navigation pane, where users previously had difficulty finding the actions they were looking for.

Calendar

On the opposite side of the taskbar, the calendar flyout also comes with a couple of new features. You can now create calendar events right from the taskbar flyout without being redirected to the Calendar app. Select a date and start typing in the textbox to create a new event on that day. A form will appear on the flyout where you can fill out the time and location of that event. The ‘More details’ button will direct you to the calendar app like before if you need to enter more specific information.

Notifications

The November 2019 Update refines app notification settings. At the very top of Action Center, there’s a ‘Manage Notifications’ link. This link takes you directly to the Notifications & Actions section in the Windows Settings. The main section is more or less the same, adding a couple of extra tick-boxes for specifying what kinds of notifications can appear. Clicking on a specific app from the list below will reveal a re-designed per-app notification page. There aren’t any new features here, but the layout is somewhat different. Thumbnails at the top of the page help differentiate notification banners from notifications in Action Center, and switches appear where tick-boxes were previously.

Notifications

Digital Assistants

Microsoft is allowing third-party digital assistants onto the lock screen in the November 2019 Update. For instance, if you install Alexa from the Microsoft Store, you will be able to speak with her from the lock screen after granting her the proper permissions.

As for Cortana, Microsoft is currently working on moving her to a standalone app, separating her from the operating system entirely. This new app will not be shipping with the November 2019 update; however, you can install the beta from the Microsoft Store.

File Explorer

In the last major update for Windows 10, the Windows Search experience was updated with a dedicated UI and advanced indexing options. With the November 2019 Update, the File Explorer search is being updated as well. The search bar in File Explorer will now give you web-powered suggestions based on the files on your device and in the cloud. You can open files right from these suggestions, or press enter to populate the window with search results processed locally.

file exploere search suggestions

Getting the Update

Apart from the small list of new features, the November 2019 Update enhances Windows 10’s performance and reliability. This update will begin rolling out to the general public beginning November 12th. When that time comes, you can get it by checking for updates in the Windows Update section of the Windows Settings.

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