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

Maybe next time

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 a privileged platoon in the army of Windows Insiders to group applications together in a tabbed interface, a little like tabs in modern browsers.

The vision, first espoused by Microsoft's senior program manager Brandon LeBlanc back in December 2017, was aimed at helping the workflow of users by connecting apps being used for a specific task. After the tech was prodded at by a select few Insiders, Microsoft wisely pulled it from the April 2018 Update.

It now appears to have been pulled from the expected autumn release too. The post by Microsoft's Dona Sarkar and Brandon LeBlanc hints that Microsoft have had some problems getting Sets to work with the Office suite and Edge browser.

Problems there would certainly be an embarrassment, so a sad-faced Microsoft engineer appears to have once again done the decent thing and led the tech around the back of the barn for a short conversation with a shovel.

With the "Bug Bash" under way, where Microsoft sets Insiders off on a series of scenarios in the hope of finding OS problems, it would be unlikely to see Sets reappearing until at least after the next release.

Users desperate for a Sets-like function could do worse than taking a look at Groupy by Stardock, and also gaze with nostalgia at Stardock’s recreation of the venerable Windows 7 Start Menu.

Now Sets is likely gone, there is little in the way of major tentpole features in the next version of Windows 10.

More of the interface has been hit with the fluent design shtick and there are numerous small tweaks and improvements. The latest build includes additional Windows Defender protections and at some point the much-vaunted Dark Theme will actually work over more elements of the Windows common dialogs.

Another piece of technology trailed in 2017, the Cloud Clipboard, is also still present.

Microsoft has improved its diagnostic data viewer to allow users to see what is being sent back to the software giant. And no, you still can't turn off the slurpage, no matter how much you want to. It's for your own good, m'kay?

Ultimately, ordinary users are going to be hard-pressed to notice much difference when the release is finally emitted, and this is a good thing. Pulling technology such as Sets is a sign that Microsoft is focusing more of its efforts on quality this time around.

After the delight of the April 2018 Update, that is the feature that will please users the most. ®

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