Microsoft is about to release the next major change to Windows 10, the Spring Creators Update. While this release continues to refine the OS, there’s one area that’s still severely lacking and ignored – the taskbar.
While groups of apps have made their way into the Start Menu, groups of URLs into browser shortcut bars, surprisingly they haven’t made their way to the taskbar. The taskbar is the place where a major of our commonly used apps are launched from, but not much has changed (jump lists excluded) since the Windows of the 90s.
Windows Insiders have been testing a new feature called Sets, where applications are grouped together into single Window. The theory here is that to perform a task, you’re likely going to lean on multiple applications. If you do that or similar tasks often, you’d want to easily get to a set of applications to make that happen.
Here’s my question though – Why don’t we have Taskbar Sets? Wouldn’t it make sense that you pin groups of applications as to your taskbar, so one click could open all the required applications to perform the task? Having apps launch into a single tabbed window, or cascaded app windows should be a user setting to provide flexibility to accommodate user preferences.
It seems like a strange omission from the productivity improvements being made for creators (or just users of Windows). Have the idea for free Microsoft, just make it happen.
Above is a mockup of how the system would work. Application shortcuts (traditional and Windows Store apps) could be grouped together, either Sets for common job task or by application type. At work, you could have a one-click experience to open Outlook, OneNote, Chrome (to a set of favourite websites) and Windows Explorer, maybe a records management system and a finance app.
The screenshot shows all sets open at once, this is just to illustrate the idea. Practically, I’d expect Taskbar Sets to launch with a left click (assumes you created them and know what’s inside) or right-click to expand the set, then launch an individual app. Naturally, jump lists would have to be rethought to accommodate this, but it seems like a small impact for a big benefit.
At home, you may choose to create a set that spawns 2 Chrome windows, the first with TweetDeck, Facebook and Reddit tabs, another with Foxtel Now, as well as apps like Photoshop, Spotify and Steam.
Taskbar Sets would also solve the issue of horizontal space on the Taskbar. Depending on your display resolution, it’s actually quite easy to run out of space on the taskbar and exactly zero people use dual-height (or more) taskbars.
I can see some users (perhaps with OCD) would rather organise applications like productivity apps like Office and Adobe or entertainment options like Music and Gaming apps into a set each. If Microsoft wanted to be really nice, they’d offer the ability to create Taskbar Sets automatically based on application category.
Let me know what you guys think in the comments.