Microsoft Ditches Major Windows 10 Revamp

John Lister's picture

Microsoft has ditched Windows 10 "Sets," a feature planned as a major rethink of how Windows 10 works. In simple terms, it would have replaced traditional windows (such as File Explorer or a MS Word) with browser-like tabs.

The feature was first revealed by Microsoft in late 2017 and later went out to some users in the Windows 10 test panel.

The concept was simple: to offer an alternative to the current methods of switching between open applications such as using Alt-Tab to cycle between them, or clicking on icons in the taskbar at the bottom of the screen.

Browser-Like Experience

Instead, Windows Sets would have meant having a set of tabs at the top of the screen: one for each window. It would have worked in a similar way to a web browser. In fact, it would have meant web pages and applications would have effectively been treated in the same way.

The theory is that people are so used to working with browser tabs that it would have made it quicker to work with multiple windows. Indeed, that's already the case for people who use online tools such as Google Docs in place of traditional desktop applications such as MS Word. The tabs are also how everything works on a Chromebook.

Windows Sets would also have had the familiar feature from browsers where a new tab can display icons of commonly used pages. In this case it would have provided a quick way to open commonly used applications.

Testers Unimpressed

Not only has Windows Sets completely disappeared from the Windows 10 testing, but sources have reportedly dropped it altogether. That appears to be for a couple of reasons. (Source:

The first is that those people who did test it either didn't find it useful or simply didn't understand what it was meant to achieve.

The second was that the feature was largely "powered" by the code used for the Edge browser, which replaced Internet Explorer as the default Windows browser when Windows 10 launched. Microsoft has since revamped Edge so that it's based on the code behind Google Chrome.

That change means implementing Windows Sets would have meant a considerable amount of extra work. Microsoft seems to have concluded it's not worth the effort given the lukewarm testing feedback. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Does the idea of Windows Sets make sense to you? Would you have considered using it? Should desktop computing get closer to the web browser experience?

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Dennis Faas's picture

It would have been interesting to try the feature out, providing that I could still disable the feature if I didn't like it.

That said, I am used to the way that icons are displayed on the task bar and use alt-tab to change between running applications all the time. I don't group my tabs on the task bar (which has been the default since Windows 7). Keeping the task icons separate (not grouped) makes identifying which running applications I want to access much faster. With grouping, I have to hover my mouse over the icon and then figure out what window I want to click on based on a tiny thumbnail preview. This is extremely tedious and time consuming, hence I don't group my tasks.

Based on what I've seen, Windows Sets groups everything together, so I most likely would not have used it.

spiras's picture

...from Stardocks, which is an application that functions similar to what Windows Sets would have been: it enables tabbed "docking" of apps and windows as described in the article. I find it extremely helpful when using several apps simultaneously, or several windows of the same app, such as Excel files. It's very intuitive and flexible (e.g. you can move tabs around to rearrange their order). Very happy with it.

dan_2160's picture

Several companies have been offering the equivalent to "Sets" for a few years.

The most robust is "Groupy" from the good folks at ($9.99/two cmputers, sometimes on sale for $4.99; free 30-day trial).
You can use Groupy to combine just several applications into a single window with tabs across the top for each open file.

Or, more pragmatically, you can use Groupy with programs that open each document in a separate instance or window of the program (like Word, Excel, older versions of Adobe Acrobat, and most programs). You can easily set Groupy so that all Word files automatically open in a single instance of Word with a tab for each document -- much like in a browser. Heck you can set it so that your Word and Excel files will open in that single window with tabs for each open file. You can even set it up to have different programs share a window with tabs across the top. I've been using it for more than 18 months and so far it has worked flawlessly.

TidyTabs from - $9 with volume discounts that start with 25% for two computers (free 30-day trial).
TidyTabs pretty much does what Groupy does, but I don't think quite as seamlessly or elegantly. My guess is that it's all a matter of personal taste which program any one person would prefer to use.

If you only want to add tabs to Microsoft Office applications (going as far back as Office 2000), try OfficeTab which gives you even more powerful tab features. It's available from, including the ubiquitous 30-day free trial. It costs something like $25 per license (works on 2 computers), but it is extremely customizable and has a slew of commands with a right click on a tab that includes renaming the file without going through a "save as" routine.

I agree it's a shame that Microsoft appears to have terminated "sets" - I was looking forward to it.

But all-in-all, computer users have plenty of options to acheive all or part of what "sets" would have given us. Try them out; you might be very pleased.