A controversial decision by Microsoft to make changes to the Windows Insider program

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Recently Microsoft announced Sets coming to the Windows Insider Program. Well it’s just a temporary name, so if you don’t like it, don’t worry, they will probably come up with something worse, or maybe better. 😛

Anyway, Sets is coming to Insiders, but it also gonna go wider in 2018. There’s no final release date for it yet. It may come with Redstone 4 or Redstone 5. Microsoft is not committing any longer to any firm release cycle for this feature. Because they learned their lessons from My People, Timeline which both are pushed back.

To be honest this is a very smart move from Microsoft, they keep working on new productive features and whenever it’s ready, they will ship it with whatever release cycle is at the time.

WHAT IS IT?

Sets previously known as Tabbed Shell is an interesting and exciting feature. It allows you to open multiple instances of the apps in a same window. You open a new tab within a window by clicking the plus button in the title bar. Then you’ll see a landing page with a list of frequently used apps, recent documents and a search bar for local files and the web. So let’s say you are working on a project report and you need some information about certain topic, now instead of opening the web browser window all you have to so hit plus button in title bar and search for whatever information you are looking for and it will open an instance of Microsoft Edge browser.

Image source: microsoft.com

This might feel similar how Chromebooks handle multitasking. For time being it will be limited to the Universal Windows Platform apps, eventually it will support win32 apps, including Office, in early 2018.

Of course not all of users will find it very productive but once you start using it on regular basis you’re gonna be familiar with it. Along with sets Microsoft introducing an advance version of Windows 10’s task view: Windows Timeline. Windows Timeline feature would make it easier to keep track of things on which you are working on. While the two features were conceived separately, according to Microsoft, they could make for a powerful combination.

We also heard that there will be an option to turn it off, if you don’t like it. However it will be global, so it just turns off across the system. Eventually, the option will be available for per app which will prevent you to open instance of certain app in Sets.

WHY?

Why is Microsoft doing a limited rollout of the new Sets feature for Windows Insiders?

With the announcement of Sets and Windows Timeline Microsoft also making changes to Windows Insider Program. Microsoft is not gonna roll out this feature to all Fast Ring Insiders. Initially, it will only be available for a small group. The reason why they are doing is because it is on very early stage of development. Normally when a new feature comes out, it’s around 70-75% complete. With Sets, it’s gonna be different. What they are releasing to Windows Insider is a prototype. So it’s gonna be rough, because it is in super early stage of development cycle.

Image source: Windows Insider Program telemetry data dashboard (via YouTube)

Here they are not looking for how much you like this feature or not, but instead what they are looking for is whether it actually works, How efficient it is, How many apps you are embedding, How much time you are spending switching between apps, or not using it all?

Once they collect telemetry data, data center process this into something that’s intelligible for engineers. And based on this data they decide whether it matches the expectations or not and whether or not to ship.

FINAL THOUGHTS

In other words, with new development cycle, instead of putting a feature out there into the public and getting feedback on it later on only to roll it back, they’re starting much earlier in the development process to see if it’s actually effective and people are using it.

You can say that Microsoft is taking a step back in their development cycle. And that’s actually a smart move.  After all, no company would like to release something, only to have to roll it back later on. Later on, when it becomes more complete, they will make it available for more Insiders. And starts polishing it based on self-report features and getting feedback from users.

So there’s a good reason behind the decision by Microsoft to make changes to the Windows Insider program. And it’s actually a thoughtful move.