New Timeline and Sets Features are Coming to the Windows 10 Insider Preview

Coming soon: Sets

Microsoft announced today that it is bringing the eagerly-awaited Timeline feature to a Windows 10 Insider Preview build this week. And a future build will include another new feature called Sets, which had not previously been disclosed.

“We are hard at work on future updates to Window 10, and really looking forward to your feedback to refine our thinking,” Microsoft’s Terry Myerson writes in an email that will go out to Insiders today. “We will continue on our mission to empower the creator in all of us, with a new lens on exploring areas that help make the most of time, one of our most precious resources, and finding more time to create.”

That’s an interesting confirmation of a theory that both Mary Jo and I had that the next Windows 10 version, currently code-named Redstone 4, would focus on productivity. But here’s what Terry is revealing today.

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First, the Timeline feature that Microsoft showed off at Build earlier this year will make its first (official)appearance in an Insider build today.

“Timeline allows you to jump back in time, making it easier to find the files you’re looking for,” Mr. Myerson notes. “A visual timeline is integrated directly into Task View so you can easily move back into files, apps, and sites as if you never left.”

As interesting, Microsoft is revealing a new Windows 10 feature, provisionally called Sets. (The name could change.) This feature isn’t debuting today, but will appear in a future Windows 10 Insider Preview build instead.

Sets appears to target the same multi-device use that I wrote about yesterday in Yes, Microsoft Needs to Sell Its Own Phones (Premium). It’s a way to organize separate project elements and then return to them, all together, at a later time. (And it looks a lot like Stardock’s Groupy tool, for whatever that’s worth. Though I bet Sets only works with Store apps.)

“With Sets, what belongs together stays together, making it easier and faster to create and be productive,” Myerson explains. “The concept behind this experience is to make sure that everything related to your task: Relevant web pages, research documents, necessary files and applications, is connected and available to you in one click. Office, Windows and Edge become more integrated to create a seamless experience, so you can get back to what’s important and be productive, recapturing that moment, saving time. We believe that’s the true value of Sets. And with Timeline, it’ll be even easier to go back and find the Set you were working on.”

Sets will be released to Insiders as part of a “controlled study,” which basically means that not everyone will see it right away.


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  • Bart

    Premium Member
    28 November, 2017 - 12:37 pm

    <p>Spring Creators getting Productive Update. I am calling it</p><p><br></p><p>Liking both features. But fear Sets will indeed only be Store apps</p>

  • rameshthanikodi

    28 November, 2017 - 12:49 pm

    <p>…so it's multiple apps, as tabs, in one Window? Why couldn't one achieve the same thing with the virtual desktops?</p>

    • MikeGalos

      28 November, 2017 - 1:15 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#222089"><em>In reply to FalseAgent:</em></a></blockquote><p>At least partly because every time Microsoft has offered virtual desktops starting with the Windows Resource Kit for Windows 3.0 back in 1991 the telemetry showed that very few people used it. Virtual Desktop window management really only seems to appeal to people who learned it on X window servers on university Unix boxes and never learned other window management techniques.</p><p>Even the Sets model was tried a couple of decades ago by Microsoft by letting users group documents from multiple applications inside a single MDI window as a document group.</p><p>[edit] As others have pointed out, the similar old feature I was referring to was Office Binders.</p>

    • Jules Wombat

      28 November, 2017 - 2:05 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#222089"><em>In reply to FalseAgent:</em></a></blockquote><p>I would bet you can also pull those tabs away into separate Windows. (At least would hope so )</p>

    • Martin Pelletier

      Premium Member
      28 November, 2017 - 3:32 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#222089"><em>In reply to FalseAgent:</em></a></blockquote><p>There is a nice Stardock app called Tiles that could help too. But like karma77police, nothing beats a multi-monitor setup.</p><p><br></p><p>I have a 4k monitor, so I have space on the screen for Tiles.</p>

  • MikeGalos

    28 November, 2017 - 1:43 pm

    <p><em style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent;">"Though I bet Sets only works with Store apps"</em></p><p><br></p><p>You'll note that in Microsoft's video from the Insider email they're using the Win32 versions of Office Applications and not the Store-only versions. </p><p><br></p><p><br></p><p>See <a style="color: rgb(0, 102, 204); background-color: transparent;" href="; target="_blank"></a&gt; for the video.</p><p><br></p><p><br></p>

    • jimchamplin

      Premium Member
      28 November, 2017 - 1:50 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#222127"><em>In reply to MikeGalos:</em></a></blockquote><p>Those are likely the store-distributed versions of Office 2016, meaning they can have UWP extensions.</p>

  • pmeinl

    Premium Member
    28 November, 2017 - 1:50 pm

    <p>About Sets:</p><p><br></p><p>Weren't Office Binders something similar?</p><p><br></p><p>Personally I prefer working with docs side-by-side, preferably using multiple monitors, and not switch between tabs.</p><p><br></p><p>I cases like file explorer I would prefer the old two-pane design where one always had two panes with files in one Window being able to move and copy between them.</p>

    • MikeGalos

      28 November, 2017 - 1:59 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#222132"><em>In reply to pmeinl:</em></a></blockquote><p>And the nice thing about Windows is that you CAN work side-by-side OR in a Set OR on multiple monitors OR on Virtual Desktops without the vendor deciding how you MUST work. Now, compare that to window management in other operating systems…</p><p>And, yes, Office Binders were similar to Sets. There are a LOT of ideas Microsoft has had that were released before the market was ready. That's the cost of being innovative. Sometimes the customers adopt the new idea, sometimes it takes them a while, sometimes they never do.</p>

      • rbgaynor

        28 November, 2017 - 2:43 pm

        <blockquote>Now, compare that to window management in other operating systems</blockquote><blockquote><a href="#222146"><em>In reply to MikeGalos:</em></a></blockquote><p><br></p><p>macOS has tabs, virtual desktops and multi-monitor support – all under control of the user. </p>

      • hrlngrv

        Premium Member
        28 November, 2017 - 3:02 pm

        <p><a href="#222146"><em>In reply to MikeGalos:</em></a></p><blockquote>. . . Now, compare that to window management in other operating systems… . . .</blockquote><p>Picky, but at the moment not even Windows can work in a Set.</p><p>Sets, once available, will be the only one of these features Windows has which macOS, Linux and BSD lack. Unless they're really popular on Windows, I doubt the functionality would come to Linux or BSD.</p>

        • maethorechannen

          Premium Member
          29 November, 2017 - 12:31 pm

          <blockquote><a href="#222174"><em>In reply to hrlngrv:</em></a></blockquote><p>Sets looks at lot like KDE Activities.</p>

      • Winner

        28 November, 2017 - 4:00 pm

        <blockquote><a href="#222146"><em>In reply to MikeGalos:</em></a></blockquote><p><em>There are a LOT of ideas Microsoft has had that were released before the market was ready.</em></p><p><br></p><p>There are also a lot of ideas Microsoft released before THEY were ready.</p>

  • dallasnorth40

    Premium Member
    28 November, 2017 - 1:50 pm

    <p>If Store Apps by then includes Office, we're good.</p>

    • Darekmeridian

      28 November, 2017 - 6:15 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#222134"><em>In reply to dallasnorth40:</em></a></blockquote><blockquote><br></blockquote><p> Have the store versions of Office been released yet? I know they exist cause I was using them at one point. Plus the demo is clearly using Word and OneNote.</p><p><br></p><p><br></p><p> </p>

      • Dan1986ist

        Premium Member
        28 November, 2017 - 8:56 pm

        <blockquote><a href="#222326"><em>In reply to Darekmeridian:</em></a></blockquote><p>For those with Windows 10 S and those with Office 365 subscriptions, yes the desktop bridged store apps have been available. </p><p><br></p>

  • chrisrut

    Premium Member
    28 November, 2017 - 2:06 pm

    <p>Sounds like Sets is what I've been waiting for/expecting for quite some time… </p><p>Extend it conceptually: now I'm working on my networks; now I'm working on my photography; now I'm working on my ham radio station; now I'm working on a technical paper, etc. etc. each of these involves a different set of tools and documents. Keeping the bits together so they can be invoked as a group is an incredibly obvious need. Perhaps not at all coincidentally: I licensed various Stardock tools several years back trying to fake this for myself. Really looking forward to this one…</p>

  • hrlngrv

    Premium Member
    28 November, 2017 - 2:41 pm

    <p>Sets sounds like the resurrection of the Office Binder, but for more than just Office.</p>

  • dhallman

    28 November, 2017 - 3:11 pm

    <p>I already said this. It was not popular. The taskbar already groups this stuff. Want to sort it more? Use the 'new desktop' option and put a new project there. Who wants an even more bloated Windows that does the same thing in multiple ways? Not me.</p>

    • Winner

      28 November, 2017 - 3:58 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#222178"><em>In reply to dhallman:</em></a></blockquote><p><em>Who wants an even more bloated Windows that does the same thing in multiple ways?</em></p><p><br></p><p>Oh man you are late to the table.</p>

    • brentboylan

      28 November, 2017 - 10:11 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#222178"><em>In reply to dhallman:</em></a></blockquote><p>Check out the video on YouTube and you’ll see it’s more than just another screen. This follows you when you log in to another computer.</p>

      • dhallman

        29 November, 2017 - 12:18 pm

        <blockquote><a href="#222373"><em>In reply to brentboylan:</em></a> Would it not be better to cloud sync the desktops and open all of them on other PCs? But I'll watch the video. Maybe there is a benefit I am not yet seeing.</blockquote><p><br></p>

  • NoviceTechy

    28 November, 2017 - 3:44 pm

    <p>This to me actually seems pretty cool. Now I won't have to open multiple windows. And I know I'm probably in the minority (I honestly don't know if I am or not) , but I generally like Windows 10. Sure it has its quirks, but what operating system doesn't? Windows 10 breathed a breath of new life into my laptop from 2011; I installed it the day it came out. Honestly, my laptop was quite sluggish on Windows 7 (the OS it came with). All in all though, it does what I need it to do, and that's all I can ask of it. </p>

    • brduffy

      28 November, 2017 - 4:07 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#222216"><em>In reply to NoviceTechy:</em></a><em> I also like Windows 10. </em></blockquote><p><br></p>

    • fbman

      29 November, 2017 - 12:35 am

      <blockquote><a href="#222216"><em>In reply to NoviceTechy:</em></a></blockquote><p>I also like windows 10, It actually works very well. Its much faster and more efficient than windows 7.</p><p><br></p><p>I have even purchased some games from the Store and one or two useful apps as well. I think people that really hate it, as in the minority. You cant please everyone. </p>

  • SRLRacing

    28 November, 2017 - 3:50 pm

    <p>This is potentially really powerful when coupled with the cross platform nature of PWAs. Imagine being able to go device to device with the same exact apps you were using all together and ready to go where you left off. </p><p><br></p>

  • brduffy

    28 November, 2017 - 4:06 pm

    <p>I like the idea of "Sets", but if it only works with store apps as suggested then it won't be of much help to me.</p>

    • JimP

      28 November, 2017 - 4:25 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#222224"><em>In reply to brduffy:</em></a></blockquote><p><br></p><p>At this point, I'm planning to buy Groupy when it gets out of beta. Groupy will let you group both UWP and Win32 apps.</p>

  • fbman

    29 November, 2017 - 12:40 am

    <p>I really would like them to do more work on the virtual desktops feature. I use this feature alot. What would be cool, if you could customise the desktops. like different icons or even different backgroud for each desktop.</p><p><br></p><p>Then I could have one desktop for work and another for play. </p>

    • Aldey Wahyu Putra

      29 November, 2017 - 3:42 am

      <blockquote><a href="#222438"><em>In reply to fbman:</em></a></blockquote><p>I agreed, but I do love the addition of Sets. Current implementation of Virtual Desktop is really bugging me out, why can't I drag my opened programs between desktops like macOS?</p>

    • hrlngrv

      Premium Member
      29 November, 2017 - 4:07 am

      <p><a href="#222438"><em>In reply to fbman:</em></a></p><p>Give MSFT another decade and they may reach feature parity with what Linux's KDE provides today.</p><p>Thing is only KDE provides this under Linux. Either it's more difficult than it's worth, most developers just aren't interested in doing it, or there's a widely shared impression that most users aren't asking for it.</p>


    29 November, 2017 - 4:13 pm

    <p>Hiding windows behind tabs doesn't scream "Power User" – it's more like a Chrome-Book feature. Power users like big monitors (27" or higher) with virtual desktops or multiple displays, where they can have applications running side-by-side. </p><p><br></p><p>That being said, I don't think S<em>ets</em> are a bad idea. Most people using Windows for work are on laptops with smaller screens, switching between full screen apps to maximize the space available. But then… why not just add the persistence to the virtual desktop feature that exists today and switch between full screen apps using the task bar as you would today. That would eliminate the need for legacy applications to be updated. Trust me, I work for a software company and we have no timeline to update our legacy Windows desktop applications. Everything is moving to the web. </p><p><br></p><p>One last thing … I desperately want to have different wallpaper on different Virtual Desktops. It's such a simple request… Please just do it.</p><p><br></p><p><br></p>

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