Windows 10 may be making the most important change in its history, but this week the platform came crashing back down to earth. Following serious new update problems, Microsoft is cancelling, arguably, the most ambitious redesign any Windows version has had in years.
In an exclusive, CNet’s well connected Microsoft specialist Mary Jo Foley has revealed Sets is no more. It follows a tweet from Microsoft Senior Program Manager Rich Turner suggesting the same thing over the weekend. Sets was announced in 2017 and would have revolutionised the way Windows 10 works.
The goal of Sets was to replace windows with tabs. Instead of requiring numerous windows to be open and tracked, Sets enables users to place all their programs into a single window organised in tabs. Just like browser tabs, these could be reordered, split into separate windows and rejoined as necessary.
Specific Sets could also be saved under file names and synchronised across PCs so users could jump between computers and taking all their organised programs with them at the exact points they left off in each. You can see an early demo of Sets in action in the video below, it’s simple but very powerful.
Interestingly, while the YouTube video carries 5,200 likes to 344 dislikes, Foley’s insider says “the feature generally wasn’t well received or understood”. Given its simplicity, this seems more like a smokescreen and her insider goes on to explain that the switch of Microsoft’s Edge browser to the Chromium engine broke everything and would’ve required the team to recode Sets from scratch. Apparently, it was that which “helped finalize the decision”. I have asked Microsoft to comment on this and will update if I get a reply.
On the bright side, Foley says Microsoft will keep a small remnant of Sets by building tab support into File Explorer. This has been on the wishlist of fans for years. Meanwhile, anyone wanting the full Sets experience can get a taste of it via third-party app Groupy. Wisely, developer Stardock has cut its $10 price by 50% right now, though it does beg the question why a small developer can code something which sent Microsoft into a tailspin.