back to article Ready, get Sets... no? App-grouping whizzery for Windows 10 killed

Microsoft dropped another Insider build of Windows 10 last night. Hidden away among the long list of tweaks in build 17704 was news that the anticipated Sets function is unlikely to see the light of day. Sets was one of the more visible changes expected in the next version of Windows (currently known as Redstone 5). It allowed …

  1. Hans 1

    Just buy stardock, already. Cheaper than getting your code monkeys to write compileable code ...

    1. elDog

      Classic Shell is still working in Windows 10 1803.......

      Don't know for how much longer, tho.

    2. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Gods no!

      They'd ruin it in seconds.

  2. AMBxx Silver badge

    More tabs?

    I think I've reached peak tab. I have a tab for each remote desktop connection. Within a RDP session, I may have Visual Studio running - it shows my documents as multible tabs. I can even have multiple groups of tabs. then the browser bits and tool thing are split using tabs.

    When I use SAP BI, it even has multiple tabs for the simplest of tool bars.


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: More tabs?

      Yeah... after 8.1... and now 10... seems like MS is doing the carnaval roundabout quicker than phones!

      "Smaller is better... bigger is better..." ad infinitum.

      Now it's "no windows, tiles instead... no, tabs now, no windows, um tiles?"

      Who has not caught on that they are just deleting and reintroducing "features" with the adage that it is "new"?

      Granted there are some nice real improvements under the hood. Like compressed RAM memory access . But AFAIK the likes of MacOS (and thus hopefully Linux too) can do In-kernel memory compression also!

      1. TheVogon

        Re: More tabs?

        "But AFAIK the likes of MacOS (and thus hopefully Linux too) can do In-kernel memory compression also!"

        Linux can via ZRAM but unlike Windows 10 it's not on by default,

  3. big_D Silver badge

    No news here...

    At their developer conference last month, they announced that it would be unlikely to make it into Redstone 5.

    So it is hardly a surprise that it is disappearing from Redstone 5 builds.

    That isn't to say it is totally dead, Microsoft said they would deliver features when they are ready... That said, I saw sets on the last build and it is useless to me, I couldn't see any plausible reason to "tab" together different applications.

  4. LenG

    Why tabs?

    I just put shortcuts to all the related apps in a folder then put the folder in the pulldown menu,

    Pulldown menu? Yes, still using classic shell.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Why tabs?

      Theoretically, you can "group together" a bunch of related applications or application "windows" in one window. They act just like tabs in a browser, so you can switch between Word, Excel, browser, Notepad etc. Why you would want to do that is anybody's guess.

      1. Geoff Campbell Silver badge

        Re: Why tabs?

        Per-project related files, I guess. I'll take a look at it before passing judgement, it seems like it could be potentially useful.


        1. AMBxx Silver badge

          Re: Why tabs?

          Oooh - Microsoft Binder returns?

          1. hplasm

            Re: Why tabs?

            "Oooh - Microsoft Binder returns?"

            Or, apparently, doesn't...

        2. big_D Silver badge

          Re: Why tabs?

          @Geoff Campbell but then is the point where I don't want them in tabs, I want to read one window whilst working on another...

          1. Geoff Campbell Silver badge

            Re: Why tabs? @big_D

            I have no idea how the function will work, which is why I said I'd take a look before passing judgement. I mean, I know that's not a popular approach to life, but it seems to work out OK for me, most times.


      2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Why tabs?

        Why you would want to do that is anybody's guess.

        As stated in the article, the nominal reason is so that users can group together related applications, presumably to simplify task-flow.

        For instance, I can see a use-case for having, for instance, Visual Studio, Fiddler, Management Studio and Notepad++ grouped together when debugging a web application with a SQL Server back-end, especially if you were to have multiple instances of each for the situation where you work on more than one thing and have to switch between those things.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: Why tabs?

          @Loyal Commenter but that would be a case, for me, for having them in a "launch" set, but not tabbed, I'd have them open in separate windows spread across my main monitor at home (34" ultra wide) or spread over the three Full HD monitors at work, I wouldn't want them grouped in a tab, because if that is the case, I can only see one piece of information at a time, I can't compare the content of different windows or look at the contents of one windows (E.g. report) whilst working on another windows (E.g. Report Generator) to correct the output and a third window with the data sources in it.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge

      still using classic shell.


      see icon

      1. Andy Mac

        Re: still using classic shell.

        I’ll stop using Classic Shell the day MS stop forcing a terrible touch-first UI on me. i.e. never.

  5. onefang

    You think Microsoft are having trouble with all its technical debt, coz they just kept saying "put it on my tab, barkeep"?

    I'll get my coat, it's the one with all the ribbons hanging off it.

  6. dhawkshaw

    What is it about KDE's 'Desktops' feature - that's worked brilliantly for as long as I can remember - that MS are finding so difficult to implement ? <snark>

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      They might be finding it difficult doing major releases every six months, driven by marketing.

      Perhaps they go crazy and release when, you know, done and tested and found to be satisfactory*.

      * I'm deliberately not setting the bar very high. It is Windows after all.

    2. Geoff Campbell Silver badge


      Windows has had virtual desktops since forever (WinKey-Tab, New Desktop). Sets is not virtual desktops.

      If KDE Desktops is something else, please tell the class - Google was not forthcoming.


      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Desktops

        By forever, you mean for about the last year on Windows 10, right?

        1. Geoff Campbell Silver badge

          Re: Desktops

          No, I mean since XP (and probably before, my memory fades...)

          They haven't always been available to the casual user, older versions required MS utilities to enable them, but they were there.


          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Desktops

            I can't speak to when Windows had virtual desktops as I wasn't using the Microsoft implementation. My nVidia cards going back to the GeForce 2, at least, had that as a feature of the drivers. These days, with the 30" WQXGA display, I just use one desktop.

          2. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: Desktops

            @Geoff - I think you are getting confused between functionality MS included in the Windows distribution and what was available from elsewhere.

            Mark Russinovich released the (basic but functional) Sysinternals Desktops utility that supported 4 virtual desktops in 2008 for XP. I suggest the only reason for Mark releasing this tool was because Windows (XP and prior), didn't include virtual desktop functionality in-the-box.

            Before XP, there were several third-party virtual desktop utilities, for Win3 (eg. Xerox Rooms for Win 3.x) and Win95/98 (for examples see ). Obviously, there is a selection of solid third-party desktop utilities for XP/Vista/7/8, however, it wasn't until 2015 with Win10 that MS included the capability in-the-box...

            1. TheVogon

              Re: Desktops

              "Mark Russinovich released the (basic but functional) Sysinternals Desktops utility that supported 4 virtual desktops in 2008 for XP. "

              Microsoft purchased Sysinternals in 2006 so whilst it might not have shipped with the OS, it was an MS product.

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge

      MS - 'majoring' in the 'minors'

      "What is it about KDE's 'Desktops' feature" "MS are finding so difficult to implement"

      I really like the multi-desktop feature in open source desktops, which showed up OVER 10 YEARS AGO in various desktop managers (like KDE, gnome, vtwm, fluxbox, ...). MS had a 'hackish" multi-desktop attempt-thing for XP back then, that I tried, but it stank.

      virtual desktops is the ONLY feature of Win-10-nic that I would say something nice about. That should be *THE* way to organize applications together. Just open the windows up in the same desktop. What's so hard about that?

      Anyway, I'm not surprised that Micro-$#!+ is busy "majoring in the minors" again. The article mentions 'fluid design' [and when I remind myself what that means, it's exactly the WRONG DIRECTION - make applications look/*feel* the SAME on ALL platforms? Like dumbing the desktop down to be a PHONE interface, because phones will *FEEL* bad about having OTHER platforms run BETTER than them?]. The 'fluid design' concept is 'Deja Vu' of the *INSANE* design "feature" of Win-10-nic in the FIRST place, that "one application, everywhere" concept that can NOT work unless applications are "dumbed down" (in the UI, in the functionality) to work on teeny-processor teeny-screen PHONES.

      It's why UWP is *JUST* *PLAIN* *FAIL* !!!

      So I ask this: **WHY** can't Micro-$#!+ deliver what the CUSTOMERS want (3D skeuomorphic as an OPTION, no SLURP, no ADS, no strong-armed MS LOGIN, no FORCED UPDATES, ...) instead of *CRAMMING* what *THEY* want up our as down our throats?

      Instead, they bit-fiddle, tweak, use market-speak to re-brand what they've tried several times (and failed at) aka 'fluent design' and 'UWP', yotta yotta yotta I'm sick and FEELING tired of it.

      (I wish there were a 'vomit' icon but this one will do)

      1. Teiwaz

        Re: MS - 'majoring' in the 'minors'

        I really like the multi-desktop feature in open source desktops, which showed up OVER 10 YEARS AGO in various desktop managers (like KDE, gnome, vtwm, fluxbox, ...).

        Over 10 years? Been twenty plus years KDE being 20, and others in the TWM lineage were there first (CTWM, with up to 32 multiple virtual screens).

        Time flies and we're all getting older, but ignoring decades won't make us younger.

    4. Teiwaz

      What is it about KDE's 'Desktops' feature

      KDE have moved onto 'Activities' and have been encouraging it's 'it's a replacement, but not' status for some time.

      It's kind of the same as Desktops, but not. I 'm not sure most users know what to do with them (with or instead of desktops).

      Doesn't Pekwm have tabbed windows? (or is it Fluxbox?) or both? drunk to look it up.

      1. JohnFen

        "KDE have moved onto 'Activities' "

        Yes, my understanding of Sets is that it's basically KDE's Activities, but made worse via a tabbed interface. Since I've never found a use case for Activities, Sets is certainly nothing that I want.

  7. Cyberneticist

    Netelligence - an option for people wanting Sets!

    I've been working on a project that is a bit similar to "Sets" for quite a while now! The client isn't quite ready for public viewing yet, but you can see the status of it all at - It's functional, and in fact I'm using a browser tab in it right now to write this comment!

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Netelligence - an option for people wanting Sets!

      maybe not a bad idea to announce early, so MS can 'Embrace Extend Extinguish' your company. Don't worry, you'll be well paid for it.

  8. GIRZiM

    Malibu Stacey has a new hat!

    Program Groups, Virtual Desktops, Tabs, Activities, Sets, Teasmade, Cuddly Toy, Redesigned Wheel.

  9. elDog

    How come nobody's mentioned running multiple VMs on a desktop?

    I really do this for production work - VMWare Workstation and VirtualBox. On Linux and on Windows hosts. It sorta fits the workflow that this article is talking about. When you want to work on project XYZ then switch to the appropriate VM - either windowed or full-screen. Shared folders and clipboards makes this pretty seamless.

    There are so many benefits to encapsulating particular environments in a "container" or VM that they don't really need listing. But they include isolation, snapshots, pausing/stopping the whole environment, granular allocation of resources, etc.

    1. Geoff Campbell Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: How come nobody's mentioned running multiple VMs on a desktop?

      Yes, I do that for some projects, especially the ones that require a big selection of tools installed directly onto the machine. Helps corral projects, as you say, and also stops the build-up of cruft in the base OS.


    2. GIRZiM

      Re: How come nobody's mentioned running multiple VMs on a desktop?

      Because nobody does VMs any more. It's 'containers' and 'microservices' now - didn't you get the memo?

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