Sets is one of the biggest changes to the Windows desktop interface in years. Almost every application now has tabs in its title bar. You can have tabs from different applications—like File Explorer, Microsoft Word, and Edge—in the same window.
This feature is available now in the Redstone 5 Insider Preview builds. Redstone 5 will be released sometime in Fall 2018 with a different final name. Microsoft says Sets will only be released when it’s ready, so it may or may not arrive this year.
What Is Sets?
Sets is a new feature that gives you tabs in almost every application window’s title bar. This means that you can finally get tabs in File Explorer, Command Prompt, Notepad, and other applications that never offered tabs. It also lets you open a Microsoft Edge browser tab in nearly any window. For example, you could be working on a document in Microsoft Word, open an Edge browser tab to look for something on the web, and then switch back to your document—all from the tab bar, without switching windows.
You also can mix and match these tabs, so you could have a File Explorer tab in the same window as a Notepad tab and some web browser tabs. Think of Sets as a new way to group “sets” of applications that would normally be in separate windows into sets of programs that make sense for your workflow.
In other words, Microsoft knows people love tabs in their web browsers, so Microsoft is putting tabs into every application on your system. Tabs are now just a core part of the Windows desktop interface.
Microsoft has even changed the way Alt+Tab works. By default, it now switches between tabs as well as windows.
Which Applications Support Sets?
Sets work in any traditional Windows desktop application—in other words, Win32 application—with a normal Windows title bar. Sets also work in Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps from the Store. The latest versions of Microsoft Office support Sets, too.
Desktop applications that don’t use the standard Windows title bar—for example, applications like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Steam, and iTunes—don’t support Sets. Developers would have to modify such applications to make Sets work in them.
How to Use the New Tab Bar
Sets is easy to discover. Most desktop apps now have tabs in their title bar. Click the “+” button on the bar to open a new tab.
In the current Redstone 5 builds, clicking this button opens a new Microsoft Edge tab showing Edge’s New Tab page. You can browse the web normally from here, just as if you were browsing in Edge. In future Redstone 5 builds, there will be a way to open applications from this new tab page, too.
For now, opening new application tabs is a bit clunky. When you open several different application…
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