Favorite Windows Feature: Timeline

Desktop showing timeline view

Switching between multiple apps during the day? Wishing you could easily access that cool website you saw earlier last week on your phone–but on your PC? You can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that with Timeline, your “stuff” will be easily accessible by chronological view. Just press the Task View button.

Before the release of the Windows April 2018 Update, Windows Insiders had a chance to check out upcoming features by downloading Previews. (Check out details on what’s inside the latest Preview here). We asked Insiders to vote on their top 10 favorite features, and Timeline, a new feature to help keep you organized, undoubtedly made the list.

Short of time traveling through a wormhole, Timeline is the next best thing for users who want to go back and access activities from the past. Tom Alphin, a Microsoft engineer who has been working on Timeline, recently explained via our podcast the problem that his team wanted to solve.

“We identified some years ago that people were struggling to find their stuff. It used to be that I knew where all my stuff was. It was on my one laptop on the hard drive. And now with a world of cloud services, OneDrive and Dropbox or whatever your favorite storage solution is….it’s like, ‘Where’s my stuff?’”

Tom pointed out that even though Microsoft is “investing in making OneDrive a great place for your stuff, we also recognized that people are going to use a mix of things.” Users might have their stuff even on a different laptop and on mobile. Timeline helps make “All the Things” accessible through a single, chronological view of all the documents, web sites, etc. that you may want to get back to.

Users can still find their stuff via File Explorer and Search, but Alphin’s team saw a clear value in organizing documents and web sites chronologically “in a predictable, consistent way,” rather than by application or even “some sort of relevance algorithm.”

Tom anticipates that Timeline will increase its productivity boosting powers as app developers write more activities into roam APIs. “As developers embrace the platform that Timeline’s built on, you’ll see more and more high-quality activity cards in Timeline coming from the various apps you love,” Tom said.

What’s in the future for Timeline itself? “It’s the beginning of a whole host of ways to infuse the Windows operating system with exactly what you need next,” Tom said. “I can’t speak to exactly what we’re going to do with that, because we’re still kind of inventing the future, right?  But we know that these activities—that the Microsoft first-party applications and our third-party partners are creating—are at the center of a new type of productivity in Windows.”

Want to try out upcoming Windows features before they’re released? Download the latest Preview, share your feedback, and help shape the future of Windows.