One of the most requested features of Windows 10 was tabs in file explorer. Microsoft added tabs in Internet Explorer 6 way back in 2005 via a toolbar extension. However, after that, Microsoft has not added the tab in their file explorer or any other app, expect their Edge web browser. However, with Sets for Windows 10, Microsoft has turned the tables completely.
Sets are just like tabs for apps (including file explorers) except they are called by a different name and are designed to be used in a different way. Set, as the name implies, is a collection of related tasks. On a browser, you may have a lot of unrelated tabs open in a window. They are not grouped based on the task you are doing. However, it sets, it is exactly like that.
Windows 10 testers will first start testing what Microsoft calls “Sets” in the coming weeks, and the tab integration will be initially limited to Windows 10’s special Universal Windows Apps. Microsoft is planning to get as much feedback on the new feature as possible, before tweaking it and making it available to everyone. The software giant isn’t committing to a specific timeline for tabs.
Tab grouping is a feature in some browsers such as Firefox. The new Firefox Quantum also comes with tab containers add-on. Other browsers can also use a tab grouping extension. But then again, this grouping does not happen quite intuitively as it does in sets on Windows 10.
Initially, sets are limited to the Universal Windows Apps for desktop on Windows 10. Some special x86 apps that have been ported to the Store will get aces to Sets, such as Office. At the moment, Sets is available only to Windows 10 Insiders. It may or may not see daylight, but it is expected to release with the next version of Windows 10, that is Windows 10 Redstone 4, which will also bring Timeline, a related feature.
With Sets enabled on Windows 10 when you open an app, the title bar of the app contains one extra button other than close, maximize, minimize, and that is to add tabs. The interface is similar to the topmost bar on Microsoft Edge. Except you can get it on any app now.
The new tab page looks quite similar to the new tab page on Microsoft Edge. However, instead of websites, it now has frequently used apps that can be opened in a tab. A search bar searches through files, apps and also the web. This is same as the Cortana powered search in the Windows Start Menu. You can open any app, or open a file in the new tab. The new tab also has a feed containing all the recently used files.
You can even search the web which will open Microsoft Edge in the new tab. The tabs of Microsoft Edge will merge with the tabs of the Set of apps you are working on. So, in one set, you can have PowerPoint, Word opened, along with Wikipedia and Google as four distinct tabs.
What is more interesting about Sets is the syncing feature. If you sign in from a different PC and open any one of the apps that you were working with, it will automatically ask you if you want to open the other apps that were in the same set of the app that you opened. You get all the files and all the websites opened in a single window.
Sets are still a feature for Insiders and Microsoft is gathering feedback on making it available for more apps. This includes File Explorer and even on non-Microsoft apps, such as Photoshop. It would be quite a treat to have Photoshop and Lightroom running in tabs. With non-Microsoft apps supporting Sets, we can also have Chrome or Firefox running in the same Set as Microsoft Word. However, the real challenge for Microsoft would be to get developers on board. The experience will be limited only to Microsoft Office and Edge at the moment.
Sets seem like an extension to the Timeline feature on Windows 10. With Timeline, Windows can remember what you were working on and when. This also works across devices. So, if you were taking a note on OneNote on your Android tablet, you can come home and see it on your timeline on your PC and resume working on it. In between, you could be browsing the internet on your iPhone with Microsoft Edge. Windows will also remember that and show in a chronological order what you were doing and when.
This is already implemented in part as the shared devices experiences. With Cortana installed on all your devices, you can continue working even when you switch devices. The timeline will take that a level up. With Sets, you can resume working on a bunch of apps, even when you switch devices.