Sets was going to bring tabs to File Explorer and other Windows applications. An early version of Sets once appeared in Windows Insider builds, but Microsoft pulled it. Now, according to Microsoft’s Rich Turner on Twitter, Sets is “no more.”
We were really looking forward to Sets, as we’ve always wanted tabs in the File Explorer as well as console windows like the Command Prompt, PowerShell, and even Linux Bash shells on Windows. Tabs in other applications like Notepad would be really cool, too. Sets offered native tabs any application could use. Here’s how Sets worked when it was available in Windows Insider builds for a short time a year ago.
Back in June 2018, Microsoft removed Sets tabs from the Windows Insider build and thanked users for their “valuable feedback… as we develop this feature helping to ensure we deliver the best possible experience once it’s ready for release.”
Microsoft has been pretty quiet about Sets ever since. In December 2018, Windows Central’s Zac Bowden claimed Sets wasn’t “cancelled” according to his sources at Microsoft.
But, five months later, Sets is looking pretty canceled. In response to a question about when a tabbed console environment would arrive, Microsoft’s Rich Turner said “the Shell-provided tab experience is no more”—he’s referring to Sets here.
Turner also said “adding tabs [to the console] is high on our to do list.” Surely Microsoft wouldn’t be working on adding tabs to the console if those native operating system tabs were still their way any time soon.
The Shell-provided tab experience is no more, but adding tabs is high on our to do list.
— Rich Turner (@richturn_ms) April 20, 2019
It’s a bit crazy that we have to parse Microsoft’s plans from errant tweets, but that’s how it goes. It appears Microsoft has quietly canceled Sets without actually telling anyone outside of Microsoft. We’d like a more official statement, of course, but Microsoft may never release one and may let the memory of Sets quietly fade away.
It makes sense, really. Microsoft made Sets very complicated—it was more than just tabs; each tab could embed Edge’s browser engine. With the old version of Edge on the way out and a new Chromium-based version of Edge on the way in, Sets is now more complicated to implement. Zac Bowden said Microsoft was still “working on how best to implement it,” but that was back in 2018 and it appears plans have changed.
Of course, while many people wanted File Explorer and console tabs—features other operating systems have had for decades—no one really asked Microsoft to make Sets so complicated in the first place.
Users: “We want a tabbed file manager and command prompt.”
MS: “Okay, also we put them in every single app and built in a web browser”
U: “Great, we didn’t need all that but-“
MS: “Oops, it’s too buggy, we’re removing it.”
U: “Hey, what happened to our tabbed file manager? Hello?
— Chris Hoffman (@chrisbhoffman) March 11, 2019
Oh well, at least there are ways to get tabs in File Explorer today. But it’s 2019 and Windows really should offer this basic feature.
If we’ve misinterpreted Rich Turner’s tweet and Sets is still on the way, we would be happy to update this article with an official Microsoft statement about what’s going on with Sets.