Alongside many new changes and features, the Windows 10 May 2019 Update (version 1903) adds a few subtle but welcome improvements to the Start menu to make the experience more consistent and useful.
For example, beginning with the first semi-annual feature update, the Start menu becomes a separate app, gets proper light-mode support and receives several visual tweaks.
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In this Windows 10 guide, we dive into the improvements with the Start menu shipping with the May 2019 Update.
Start menu improvements with the May 2019 Update
These are the new improvements you'll find in the Start menu after upgrading to the May 2019 Update.
Start menu process
In previous versions, the Start menu was part of the Shell experience (ShellExperienceHost.exe), which is an essential process that also handles graphical elements and several other components. Starting with the May 2019 Update, the Start menu is an entirely separate app that runs in its own process (StartMenuExperienceHost.exe), even though it'll feel like it's part of the Shell.
Using this new approach brings some unique benefits. For instance, now that the Start menu is a separate app, it'll reduce the number of issues. It'll make the experience more stable, faster to open, and it'll simplify debugging for developers.
The updated version of the menu also ships with a new simplified default tile layout that reduces the number of columns from two to one, with top-level tiles for a cleaner look and feel.
In the new layout, you'll now only find two groups of tiles, including Productivity and Explore, each one with only six medium tiles. Also, each group features a folder with links to the online version of the Office apps, and another folder with links to download games from the Microsoft Store.
Although Windows 10 isn't reducing the number of default apps, with the new version, you'll be able to uninstall even more inbox apps (such as 3D Viewer, Calendar, Calculator, Paint 3D, Snip & Sketch, and others) directly from the Start menu or using the Settings app.
If you're upgrading from a previous version, Windows 10 won't change your current layout. Instead, the new default layout will be available on new devices after performing a clean installation and creating a new user account.
Although you've been able to pin and unpin tiles for a long time, it hasn't been possible to do the same for groups and folders. Instead of having to empty a folder or group to remove it, starting with the May 2019 Update, you can simply right-click a folder or group to find a new option to unpin from Start.
Left navigation pane
In addition, the May 2019 Update also updates the left navigation pane of the Start menu. For example, now the left pane expands automatically as you hover over any of the buttons, revealing their labels, which makes it easier to identify their actions.
Also, clicking the power button, you'll find new icons for Sleep, Shut down, and Restart, and if there's an update pending, the power button will now include an orange dot indicating that a restart is pending. (The indicator will also appear in the Windows Update icon in the notification area of the taskbar.)
Finally, opening the profile menu, you'll notice that each option (Sign out, Lock, and Change account settings) now has a new icon for a more consistent experience.
Light mode support
While in the past, you were able to use a system Light mode, it was very inconsistent, as elements like the Start menu didn't use any kind of light colors. Starting with the May 2019 Update, Windows 10 introduces a proper Light mode, and when enabled, the color scheme will expand across all the visual elements, including on Start and its context menu.
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Mauro Huculak is technical writer for WindowsCentral.com. His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.