Windows 10 May update will make your old PC faster — here's how

Windows 10 May update
(Image credit: Future)

The latest Windows update might be more of a tune-up than an overhaul, as it promises to make Windows run faster on older laptops. The upcoming Windows 10 May 2020 Update is changing how it indexes for Windows Search, reducing the high disk usage that slowed performance in older laptops that use traditional hard drives.

The update will benefit older systems more than new, since current laptops largely use faster solid-state drives that aren't slowed down as significantly by the older indexing process. Because Windows uses this indexing process for cataloging files, content and application files that are used for programs, it is a critical aspect to the operating system's functioning. But it also uses storage and processing resources and has resulted in sluggish performance in past iterations.

The new approach fine-tunes the indexing process by shifting the indexing away from peak usage times, so that more resources are available to you when you're actually using the machine. The indexing still gets done, but the system will feel faster and offer better responsiveness during regular use.

But the update will also slow or stop the indexing process when the HDD is being actively used to transfer or delete files. The result is fewer slowdowns when using a Windows 10 machine and less impact when doing anything that would conflict with the indexing process.

According to testing done by Windows Latest, the new features seem to work as advertised, delivering a faster overall experience, and functioning well on several different hardware configurations.

The new indexing approach will be part of the upcoming Windows 10 May 2020 Update that's set to roll out next month.

Other improvements rolling out in the next month include changes to the Cortana voice assistant which separate the assistant from standard desktop search, and will open up text-based chat interaction without having to speak aloud.

Another tweak is the addition of a Bing image search that lets you take screenshots and find more information about the image using Microsoft's search engine.

All of these changes are part of the upcoming May 2020 Windows Update – also referred to as Windows 10 20H1 and Windows 10 build 2004. The update is finished and available to some testers, and is expected to be available to the general public next month.

Brian Westover

Brian Westover is currently Lead Analyst, PCs and Hardware at PCMag. Until recently, however, he was Senior Editor at Tom's Guide, where he led the site's TV coverage for several years, reviewing scores of sets and writing about everything from 8K to HDR to HDMI 2.1. He also put his computing knowledge to good use by reviewing many PCs and Mac devices, and also led our router and home networking coverage. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he wrote for TopTenReviews and PCMag.