Microsoft’s Windows 10 development team seems to have abandoned the implementation of Sets, a system-wide feature that was promised to not only bring tabs to most Windows 10 applications, but also let users create multiple tabs for different programs within the same window. The feature was supposed to bring a whole new paradigm to the Windows desktop, which would have represented a major change to how the world’s most popular desktop operating system is used. Windows users have been clamouring for tabs at least in Windows Explorer, and the Sets feature would have been far more powerful.
The concept was first introduced in late 2017, and even at that point it seemed to have been well thought out, with several keyboard shortcuts and behavioural elements designed. It was intended to help people group activities by task and purpose. The company noted at the time that the name “Sets” was not final and might change upon release. Microsoft began rolling the feature out to small numbers of Windows Insider beta testers in what was described as a “controlled study” to gather feedback.
In June 2018, the feature was removed from builds released to Windows Insiders in order for more background work to be done on in. Specifically, release notes stated that developers would be working on the visual design of the UI, better workflow, and better integration of Microsoft Edge and Microsoft Office programs. It was promised that Sets would reappear in a future build. However, the feature did not appear again in time for the Windows 10 October 2018 update, and seems to have missed the new Windows 10 May 2019 Update as well.
Now, Microsoft senior product manager Rich Turner has tweeted that the feature has been dropped entirely. In response to a question on Twitter, Turner who works on the Windows PowerShell Console, has stated that “The shell-provided tab experience is no more”, referring to the system-wide Windows Sets feature. He went on to state that there is still an effort in progress to add tabs to PowerShell, which might look and behave more like the tabs in other programs such as Web browsers.
The statement also leaves some hope that tabs will come at least to Windows Explorer in Windows 10, which has been a huge demand from Windows power users for a long time. Microsoft seems to have resisted due to the potential for confusion, but it did take time for multiple virtual desktops to become a native Windows feature, so there could still be hope.