Microsoft Revamps Sets Feature for Smoother Windows 10 Multitasking

Microsoft adds new task switching and management options to Sets and introduces a multi-device clipboard that remembers.

Windows 10

Microsoft’s next major Windows 10 feature update, code-named Redstone 5, is starting to take shape. Whereas helping users make the most of their time is the theme of the recently released Windows 10 April 2018 Update, early indications are that Microsoft is focused on reducing friction between application experiences for multitaskers for the next release.

Sets, one of Redstone 5's hallmark features, has been revamped in preview build 17666 of the operating system, available now to members of the Windows Insider early-access program as of May 9. Borrowing from the web browser playbook, Sets allows users to group various applications into a single window using a tabbed interface.

In build 17666, Sets will offer users the choice of opening apps and websites in a new tab or window. If a webpage within a Sets grouping begins to play audio, a volume icon appears, allowing users to mute it, another feature borrowed from web browsers.

Blurring the lines between web and application experiences somewhat, the Alt + Tab keyboard shortcut used to switch between applications can be configured to show recently visited websites using the Edge browser in addition to the currently active website.

Restoring Sets tabs is snappier, due to a change in the way Sets tabs are loaded and managed in the background. Outwardly, the most noticeable change is the addition of the acrylic Fluent Design material to the title bar, lending a translucent appearance to inactive tabs, and a new gray border.

Windows 10 is also getting a clipboard that both remembers and can be accessed by other devices.

"Not only can you can paste from the clipboard history, but you can also pin the items you find yourself using all the time," blogged Windows Insider lead Dona Sarkar and Senior Program Manager Brandon LeBlanc at Microsoft. "This history is roamed using the same technology which powers Timeline and Sets, which means you can access your clipboard across any PC with this build of Windows or higher."

Users can access their new, cross-device clipboard history and pinned items by hitting the Windows Key + V shortcut.

A Smarter Snip Screenshot Tool

Separately, Microsoft took the wraps off Snip Insights, a screen-capture utility that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to extract information from screenshots.

Based on the existing Windows Snipping tool, which is getting a major upgrade this fall, the open-source software can translate text and automatically detect and classify image content. Microsoft envisions folks using Snip Insights to convert textbook scans into editable text with one click or turn social media feeds into a virtual shopping list, among countless other uses.

Snip Insights is a Garage project developed by a group of interns at Microsoft Vancouver who used the company's cloud-based Cognitive Services suite to extend the tool. Microsoft Garage is the software giant's experimental, multiplatform app unit that pumps out software like What Dog for iOS that can identify a dog's breed.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...