Sets to reap­pear in au­tumn In­sider builds

If you’ve been pin­ing for a tabbed File Ex­plorer app, your wait is al­most over. Sets is re­turn­ing, re­veals MARK HACHMAN

Tech Advisor - - Contents -

If you’re a fan of Win­dows 10’s tabbed Sets in­ter­face, you may want to sign up for the Win­dows In­sider pro­gram this au­tumn, be­cause Sets is back.

Mi­crosoft has an­nounced Win­dows 10 In­sider Build 17618, a closed beta for the ‘Skip Ahead’ por­tion of the Win­dows In­sider pro­gram. Most In­sid­ers fol­low the de­vel­oper team work­ing on the cur­rent build; that team is wrap­ping up the spring up­date (Red­stone 4) that’s due in the next few weeks. The ‘Skip Ahead’ In­sid­ers fol­low another team of de­vel­op­ers work­ing on the next up­date, due in the au­tumn.

It’s in the au­tumn up­date, known as Red­stone 5, where Sets will reap­pear. We tested Sets late last year,

which re­places the tra­di­tional ‘one app, one win­dow’ user in­ter­face with some­thing that looks more like a web browser. Last au­tumn, the beta Sets in­ter­face al­lowed you to tack on an app as another tab, us­ing UWP apps like Cal­en­dar, Edge, and Mail.

Now, the ‘Skip Ahead’ In­sid­ers get to play with a beefed-up ver­sion of Sets, where sup­port for some legacy Win32 apps has been added in. In a month or so, the cur­rent In­sid­ers will get it, too. Now File Ex­plorer, Notepad, Com­mand Prompt, and Pow­erShell are also tabbed – great news for those who’ve been hop­ing for a tabbed File Ex­plorer in­ter­face for years.

Mi­crosoft also an­nounced that Sets will be in­te­grated once again with Time­line, Mi­crosoft’s re­place­ment for the vir­tual-ma­chine-like Task View. Time­line sees each dis­parate app you’re us­ing for a project as an ‘ac­tiv­ity’, and it gath­ers all your ac­tiv­i­ties into one vir­tual place. “When restor­ing your projects you’ll be prompted to re­store re­lated apps and web pages,” Mi­crosoft said in a blog post. “In Time­line you’ll see when a project has mul­ti­ple ac­tiv­i­ties as­so­ci­ated with it.”

While Win­dows users can switch from browser tab to browser tab us­ing Ctrl + PgUp/PgDn, Win­dows users can switch from ap­pli­ca­tion tab to ap­pli­ca­tion tab us­ing Ctrl + Win + Tab, or use Ctrl + Win + T to open a new tab. (To open a Win32 app in a new tab, hold down Ctrl as you launch it; oth­er­wise, it will launch in a new win­dow.) Un­for­tu­nately, you can’t use drag-and-drop to re­order tabs at this time, Mi­crosoft said.

Re­mem­ber, Sets is a long-term re­vi­sion for Mi­crosoft. Mi­crosoft tested Sets within the up­com­ing Red­stone 4

ver­sion for Win­dows In­sid­ers, then yanked it to pol­ish it be­hind the scenes. Mi­crosoft has said it could take years for Sets to roll out in a fi­nal form, with sup­port for all of Mi­crosoft’s own apps as well as legacy ap­pli­ca­tions from third-party de­vel­op­ers.

Pre­vi­ously, Sets was an op­tional ex­pe­ri­ence that could be tog­gled on and off, and that may be the case here, too. It’s very pos­si­ble you’ll like Sets; it’s very pos­si­ble you won’t. Mi­crosoft’s ex­pended a lot of ef­fort, though, in mak­ing Win­dows work for a va­ri­ety of users, from those who pre­fer us­ing Win­dows tablets with pens, to dif­fer­ently abled users, and hard­core gamers.

In­ter­ested in try­ing out Sets as part of the In­sider pro­gram? Go to Set­tings > Up­date and Se­cu­rity > Win­dows In­sider Pro­gram to get started. Just re­mem­ber that you won’t see Sets un­til April some­time, when the In­sider pro­gram and the cur­rent Skip Ahead de­vel­op­ment track will merge.

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