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Major New Windows Insider Build Introduces Timeline, Sets

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It’s only been a few months since the Fall Creators Update rolled out, but a new Windows Insider build (17063) with a number of new features just hit the proverbial streets.

First up is Timeline. This new feature makes Task View (Win-Tab) more effective by grouping previous applications or programs you were working with and offering them to you as a project, rather than simply displaying all open applications. Here’s the old Task View:

TaskView

The Task View view.

And here’s the new Task View with Timeline enabled.

Windows-Timeline

The new Timeline view can be organized by day or even by the hour if you need that level of granularity. If you know you were reading a story about cats, but can’t find the appropriate application, you can even search for the webpage you had open.

SearchTimeline

Timeline is grouped into Activities, which Microsoft defines as “the combination of a specific app and a specific piece of content you were working on at a specific time. Each activity links right back to a webpage, document, article, playlist, or task, saving you time when you want to resume that activity later.”

You can control which user accounts are tracked via Timeline and disable all activity collection from the Activity History menu.

ActivityHistory

It’s good to see Microsoft paying more attention to user privacy concerns from the start, rather than retroactively patching in capabilities it mystically forgot to implement.

Introducing Sets

The ability to switch between windows in Windows hasn’t really changed in decades. Task View (Win-Tab) may beef up search and activity capability, but switching back and forth between the various applications you’re using for a project can be a pain in and of itself. To combat this, Microsoft is introducing a new feature, currently called Sets. Here’s Microsoft again:

The concept behind Sets is to make sure that everything related to your task: relevant webpages, research documents, necessary files and applications, is connected and available to you in one click. Office (starting with Mail & Calendar and OneNote), Windows, and Edge become more integrated to create a seamless experience

This is an early test feature, so Microsoft didn’t have much more to say about it. It’s not clear if this is a Windows Store-only feature or not; Microsoft only mentions Office, Windows, and Edge as functioning in this fashion.

Other new features include various Cortana integrations, more applications that support Microsoft’s new design language called Fluent, Edge improvements (Ogg Vorbis and Theora are now supported), various gesture improvements, new text scaling options, display setting changes, and a number of UI updates. It looks like Redstone 4 will push a fair number of productivity changes, and some of them look fairly useful. We don’t have a launch date yet, but a late March or early April date seems likely.

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