Windows 10 will feature built-in support for multiple desktops when it launches later this summer, but Microsoft isn't banking on only that feature to help users organize their workspaces and stay productive.
The advent of wide-screen monitors and Windows 7's Aero Snap feature helped make it easier to work with two windows side-by-side. For example, office workers can keep a business application open on the left while working with Excel on the right. Similarly, a Web developer can preview changes in a browser without having to reposition the code editor.
Now, as 4K resolution becomes more popular, Windows 10 will boast a new feature called Snap Assist that will help users arrange their application windows in a more intuitive manner that's also faster, according to Microsoft Senior Program Manager Miron Vranjes.
"When arranging two windows side-by-side, we noticed in practice that this scenario frequently involved snapping the first window and then spending time wading through other windows on screen to find the second one to drag and snap," blogged Vranjes. Snap Assist in Windows 10 helps makes alt-tabbing or previewing the taskbar a thing of the past.
"Snap Assist significantly speeds up the process of snapping two windows side-by-side by offering you a choice of windows to snap," stated Vranjes. Once users snap a window into place, Windows 10 populates the remaining screen real estate with shrunken preview windows that users can then select to occupy the other half of the screen. Based on experiences of early testers, Microsoft appears to have cracked the code to efficient multitasking.
"Through our Windows Insider Program, we've seen that 90 percent of the time, users have chosen to take advantage of this improvement and pick the second app directly from Snap Assist rather than hunting for it manually," he reported.
For users of today's expansive, pixel-packed screens, Microsoft has added a new Corner Snap feature that allows users to quickly set up three- and four-window layouts.
Vranjes said the Windows 10 team "built upon the success of snapping to edges by extending the gesture to work with corners. To snap a window to a quarter size of the monitor, just drag the window to a corner and let go."
The feature also works with the Windows + arrow key shortcuts. "Simply hold down the Windows key, then hit Left, then Up to snap to the top left quadrant, for example. With these combo moves, snapping is a breeze," he said.
Snap also works better on multi-monitor setups. Users can now drag a windows to a shared edge or corner, and Windows 10 will snap it into place as expected. Previously, users had to use keyboard shortcuts or drag a window across displays.
In addition, Windows 10 borrows the Snap Fill feature used by Windows 8, which automatically fills up the available display area when Windows Store apps share screen space and brings it to the desktop. "When you snap a window and resize it, the system takes note of your action. When you then snap a second window, the system will optimize its size to automatically fill up the available space," said Vranjes.