Microsoft rolls out Windows 10 2004 release preview ahead of expected May release to mainstream users

Microsoft is in the final stretch of testing Windows 10 2004, also officially known as of today, as the May Update. If all goes well, OEMs and developers will get the final code late this month and mainstream users, in May.

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Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft is rolling out its Windows 10 20H1/2004 feature update to the Release Preview test ring today, April 16. That feature update, which Microsoft also will refer to as the May 2020 Update, finally is nearing the end of the testing finish line. My contacts say that next month will be when Microsoft begins rolling out this update to mainstream users.

Microsoft basically has been done adding features to its Windows 10 2004 release since late last year. Since then, it has been making fixes and enhancements to this feature update in the form of new test builds and cumulative updates.

In a blog post today, Microsoft officials said it will be build 19041.207 (KB4550936) which will be the Release Preview build. Microsoft officials said the 20H1/May 2020 Update only will be pushed automatically to a subset of Release Preview Insiders at first. Anyone else who wants it immediately can manually check for updates and install it.

Officials cautioned that anyone using Windows Mixed Reality might want to hold off on installing the update because it may not work correctly without a fix. (Microsoft is anticipating a fix will be released in early May.) 

Microsoft officials are not making public today a timetable for when and how they intend to release the final version of the Windows 10 2004/May 2020 Update. (I asked.) However, my sources say the current plan of record -- if no major issues are found during Release preview testing -- looks like this:

  • Release to OEMs/RTM: April 28, 2020
  • Availability to developers: April 28, 2020
  • General Availability: May 12, 2020

Update (April 30): As I mentioned on the Windows Weekly podcast recently, these dates were pushed back by Microsoft, possibly because the team wanted to patch a zero-day exploit before pushing the code to OEMs and users. I hear OEMs now are set to get the code May 5; developers on May 12; and general availability is slated for May 28. Again, Microsoft has not announced this officially and these dates may change yet again.

Here's a list of some of the more prominent features coming to the Windows 10 2004/May 2020 Update.

Given the current world health crisis, it's not too surprising the 20H1 release will arrive slightly later than planned. In November 2019, officials said Microsoft had decided to designate the 20H1 feature update as "2004"/the April Update. As customary, Microsoft uses the year plus the month the newest build is "finalized" (RTM'd) as the naming scheme. In the past, Microsoft has selected "03" as the marker for the spring feature update releases. But in order to avoid confusion with Windows Server 2003, Microsoft is decided to go with 2004, not 2003, to refer to 20H1, officials said.

Microsoft has been testing new features and updates with its Fast Ring testers that may or may not make it into the Windows 10/20H2/"Manganese" build. Officials have not said whether 20H2 will be a minor/cumulative update-type feature update to 20H1 -- the way that 1909 was to 1903 -- but my contacts said that currently is the team's intention.