Microsoft Adds Much Awaited Timeline And More Fluent Visual Updates To Windows 10 Insider Builds

After announcing it a few months ago, Microsoft has finally launched its much-awaited Timeline features in the latest insider preview build of Windows 10. These features are currently in the fast ring for users who have opted to skip ahead, here is the complete changelog:

What’s new in Build 17063

Introducing Timeline

Timeline is here! We know that it can be difficult to get back to stuff you were working on in the past. If you’re like us, you might sometimes forget which site or app you were using or where you saved a file. Now you can finally close apps without worrying—with Timeline, you can get right back to where you left off.

Timeline introduces a new way to resume past activities you started on this PC, other Windows PCs, and iOS/Android devices. Timeline enhances Task View, allowing you to switch between currently running apps and past activities.

The default view of Timeline shows snapshots of the most relevant activities from earlier in the day or a specific past date. A new annotated scrollbar makes it easy to get back to past activities.

Figure 1. Task view has been enhanced to include a Timeline of past activities.

There’s also a way to see all the activities that happened in a single day—just select See all next to the date header. Your activities will be organized into groups by hour to help you find tasks you know you worked on that morning, or whenever.

Figure 2. Browse all your activities for a single day.

And if you can’t find the activity you’re looking for in the default view, search for it.

Figure 3. Search Timeline to find exactly what you are looking for.


In Timeline, a user activity is the combination of a specific app and a specific piece of content you were working on at a specific time. Each activity links right back to a webpage, document, article, playlist, or task, saving you time when you want to resume that activity later.

App developers are working hard to enhance their apps by creating high-quality activity cards to appear in Timeline. In this Preview release, you can see and resume web-browsing activities in Microsoft Edge, files you opened in apps like Microsoft Office including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, and updated UWP versions of Maps, News, Money, Sports, and Weather.

We encourage app developers to update their apps to support timeline.

The new activity history settings page allows you to control which accounts appear in Timeline. This is most relevant for users with multiple accounts, such as a personal Microsoft account, and a work or school account. Settings here also let you disable activity collection and clear your activity history.

Figure 4. The activity history settings page lets you choose which accounts you want to appear in your timeline.


In addition to resuming past activities through Timeline, your personal digital assistant Cortana will suggest activities you might want to resume to help you stay productive as you switch between your phone, laptop, and other Cortana-enabled devices. This experience is powered by the same activities that appear in Timeline.

Figure 5. Cortana helps you resume activities when switching between devices.

Getting started

Use your PC normally. After a while, select the new Task view icon in the task bar. (You can also open Task view by pressing Windows logo key + Tab.) Below your running apps, you’ll see past activities in Timeline.

Figure 6. The Task view icon has been updated to reflect new timeline capabilities.

If you have more than one PC, try using Timeline on all of them—you’ll see the same activities no matter which PC you’re using. And if an activity from one PC used a modern app that you don’t have installed on another PC, Windows will help you install that app.

We’d love to hear your feedback, so please press the feedback button in the upper-right corner of Timeline if you have any problems or suggestions.

Microsoft Edge Improvements

Fluent updates in Microsoft Edge: Microsoft Edge now supports an updated Dark theme, with darker blacks, and much better contrast with all colors, text, and icons. This addresses many accessibility contrast issues, making the Microsoft Edge UI easy to navigate and more visually pleasing. As well, Microsoft Edge now supports Reveal on our navigation buttons, action buttons, buttons in the tab bar, as well as on lists throughout Microsoft Edge (such as in the HUB: Favorites, Reading, History, Downloads), making navigating Edge UI even easier. We’ve heard your feedback and have also updated the Acrylic in the tab bar and in-active tabs, allowing more color to show through.

Bookmark button and flyout become one: With this build, Microsoft Edge has also simplified adding and managing bookmarks for EPUB and PDF books. Based on your feedback we now allow you to add bookmarks and manage your list of bookmarks from the same location. This provides a very consistent experience across the different book formats and makes it really easy for users to manage their bookmarks from one location.

Offline web sites and push notifications: Microsoft Edge now supports Service Workers and the Push and Cache APIs. These new web standards allow web pages to send push notifications to your Action Center or refresh data in the background, even when the browser is closed. In addition, certain web pages can now work offline or improve performance, by using locally cached data when the cache is up to date, or when your device has a poor connection. You can learn more about these features in our post Service Workers: Going beyond the page. These features lay the technical foundation for Progressive Web Apps on Windows 10 – we’ll have lots more to share about this topic soon on the Microsoft Edge Dev Blog!

Web Media Extensions Package: This build installs the Web Media Extensions package for Microsoft Edge, which extends Microsoft Edge and Windows 10 to support open-source formats (OGG Vorbis and Theora) commonly found on the web. Try out your favorite OGG content (such as Wikipedia videos or audio)! We will be monitoring feedback from this feature in Insider flights to eventually expand to broader availability to Microsoft Edge customers in the Current Branch.

Gesture Improvements for Precision Touch Pads: This build introduces a new gesture experience for Precision Touch Pads (found on Surface and other modern Windows 10 devices). You can now use gestures like pinch and zoom, or two-finger panning, to achieve the same interactions on web sites that you can do with a touch screen today. For example, you can now pinch-to-zoom on a map in Bing Maps to zoom in the map without zooming the entire page. Developers can learn more about how this change is implemented and how to make sure your sites are ready for modern input experiences over at our blog post, Building a great touchpad experience for the web with Pointer Events.


A few weeks ago, we announced a new Windows 10 feature called “Sets” (we may end up calling it something else by the time it ships) which would be coming to Windows Insiders as a controlled study. The concept behind Sets is to make sure that everything related to your task: relevant webpages, research documents, necessary files and applications, is connected and available to you in one click. Office (starting with Mail & Calendar and OneNote), Windows, and Edge become more integrated to create a seamless experience, so you can get back to what’s important and be productive, recapturing that moment, saving time – we believe that’s the true value of Sets. Starting with today’s build, Sets will be available to Insiders however because it is being introduced as a controlled study, not all Insiders will see Sets. For more on this – see my blog post here.

Cortana Improvements

Cortana’s Notebook has a new look: Notebook has undergone a UX transformation to be more responsive to Cortana’s evolving capabilities and allow users to easily complete their tasks.

  • Your content has a new home called Organizer that lets you access your lists and reminders with ease. And all Skills are together, so you can easily configure Cortana to suit your needs. Configuration experience has also been significantly simplified.
  • Tabbed view to cleanly segregate your content and configuration and single page to manage Cortana’s Skills and easy way to discover more.
  • Simplified configuration experience page with easy interest management.
  • This is a server side change currently rolling out for those using English (United States) and will be rolled out to other markets with time.

Account entry point in the navigation menu: To improve discoverability and consistency, we’re moving the account entry point out of Cortana’s Notebook and into the navigation menu (that’s the side bar that contains elements like Home, Notebook, and Collections).

Lists and Collections – better together! Cortana Collections have been merged with Lists, so you get personalized suggestions and help with List creation – all in a rich, attractive interface. Cortana helps you track your To-Do’s and manage Grocery lists. She also suggests items of interest –  restaurants to try out, recipes to make, books to read, movies & shows to watch, things to shop for – and makes it easy to add them to your lists.  See and use your Lists and suggestions in the List home:

You can access it from Notebook:

For now, this feature is only available for Insiders using English (United States), who are logged into both Windows and Cortana with their Microsoft Account.

A note about Collections: We’ve made an underlying breaking change to how Cortana’s Collection works – if you’ve been using this feature in previous builds we need to migrate your data to our new collection APIs. Because of this, once you upgrade to this build you’ll notice all of your existing saved list items have moved under suggestions. If you want to keep these suggestions, please drag and drop them back into the list. Thank you everyone who’s given us feedback so far about the Collections experience – please continue doing so!

Cortana loves music: You can now use Cortana to control music playback on more of your favorite music apps (EN-US only). Starting with this build, we are enabling natural language compatibility for Spotify just like the Harman Kardon Invoke! This will work on both, above the lock screen (PC is locked) as well as below! You can try queries like…

  • Play Christmas music on Spotify
  • Play my discover weekly playlist on Spotify
  • Play <Artist/Track/Title/Genre/Mood> on <AppName>
  • Play some Drake
  • Play focus music
  • Play rock music
  • Play my tracks

Once music is playing you can ask Cortana what’s playing like this:

  • Hey Cortana, what’s playing?

Cortana will keep you posted on your tracks.

To start rocking to your favorite tracks just get the latest app update and sign into Spotify in the notebook under the music section.

NOTE: For the above to work, you need to have a Spotify account (free or premium).

Windows Shell Improvements

Bring on the Fluent! Today, Start and Action Center support acrylic to align with Fluent design principles. And now we’re bringing the next wave of Shell UI to the party by applying acrylic to the taskbar, Share UI, Clock & Calendar flyout, Network flyout, Volume flyout, and Input flyout. Try it out and let us know what you think!

Note: The acrylic background is disabled if you enter battery saver mode. We’re also investigating an issue where if you have scaling > 100% the blurred background may appear distorted.

Save notification drafts: Notifications are inherently transient – one thing we’ve heard from you is how it can be frustrating to have started writing a response into a notification (such as one from Skype), only to have the response disappear if you didn’t submit it before the notification went away. Well, no more! If a toast gets dismissed with unsubmitted text, we will now save the draft; open the action center and your text will now be saved with the notification.

Simplified letter grouping in Start for East Asian languages: One of the top feedback items from our users is that it’s too hard and takes too long to find apps in the all apps list because of the way the apps are grouped when using East Asian languages. We hear you, and we’re happy to announce that with this build we’ve simplified the grouping of apps in the all apps list for Chinese (Simplified), Japanese, and Korean. This change is most noticeable for Chinese (Simplified) and Japanese, where we’ve reduced the number of groups by 29 and 36, respectively. If you use Windows in these languages, please take a moment to check it out once you get the build and let us know how it feels.

Chinese (Simplified) previous and new all apps list sections

Japanese previous and new all apps list sections

Cloud states for the Navigation Pane: In an effort to further keep you informed about the state of your OneDrive files and folders on demand, we’re looking at adding a state icon to use in File Explorer’s Navigation Pane. If you’d like to turn this off, there’s an option in the File Explorer ribbon View tab – click the Options button, then in the dialog that appears go to the Navigation Pane section of the View tab and uncheck “Always show availability status”.

A consistent Network flyout on the login screen: Continuing our work to modernize all the elements of Windows 10, we’ve now updated the network flyout on the login screen to use the same familiar network flyout you’ve grown to love in the taskbar.

Improving your update experience: In an effort to keep you informed about the state of your PC, if Windows Update Settings shows a warning or alert, we will now echo that via a new Windows Update system tray icon. If you right click the icon, you will see options relevant to the current state, such as restart, schedule the restart, or go to Windows Update settings. If visible, this icon can be turned off from within Taskbar Settings.

An improved My People experience

Based on your feedback we’ve been working on evolving the My People experience and taking it to the next level. This build brings with it a number of requested features, improvements and changes including:

  • Drag and drop rearrange: Checking off one of our top feedback requests – you can now drag and drop contacts to rearrange them in the taskbar! You can also drop contacts into and out of the People flyout. Note: as part of this feature change, when you upgrade, if you have multiple contacts pinned to taskbar you will notice that their order will reverse direction on the taskbar

  • You decide how many contacts to show in the taskbar: With the Fall Creators Update you could have a maximum of 3 people pinned to the taskbar, with any additional pins appearing in the People flyout. We’ve heard your feedback and today’s build brings a new setting so you can decide how many you’d like to show – from one to ten, or you can choose to show them all in the overflow. You can find the setting with the other People settings under Settings > Personalization > Taskbar.
  • Animations for people in overflow: To improve discoverability you’ll now see an animation across the People icon to let you know when someone is pinned to the overflow list in the flyout. In addition, previously you could only receive emotive notifications from contacts that were directly on your taskbar – with today’s flight this experience is now available for people pinned within the People flyout as well! Here’s a glimpse of how it looks (showcased using our favorite “windows10” Skype emoji). Want to try it? Get one of your pinned contacts to send you a “(poke)”, or add, pin, and ping our emoji bot.

  • Fluent in the flyout: As part of our larger ongoing effort to reach our Fluent Design goals, you’ll notice that the People flyout now makes use of acrylic, reveal, and light effects.
  • Improving app discoverability: As developers work to integrate My People support into their apps, we’ll now suggest apps that you might be interested in. There’s an option to turn this on or off in the People settings under Settings > Personalization > Taskbar.

Add a new dimension to what you capture in Snipping tool

This build brings a new “edit in Paint 3D” button to the Snipping Tool so you can take your snip to the next level via Paint 3D.  Move (or remove) objects with Magic select, augment and annotate with a variety of options, bring in 3D objects from Remix 3D, and more!

Windows Settings Improvements

Settings gets a new look: You’ve already seen we say “bring on the Fluent!” in other areas of Shell, and Settings is no different. With today’s build you’ll find not only have we refreshed the Settings UI leveraging Fluent Design principles, but we’ve also taken a look at the Settings homepage and redesigned it with an eye for visual acuity. As you explore the plethora of new and improved settings below, take a moment to get a feel for the updated design as a whole and let us know what you think.

Security questions for local accounts: With the Fall Creators Update, we started working on self help solutions for password recovery from the Lock screen. Today, we’re adding this functionality to local accounts as well, through the newly available use of security questions for local accounts. If you already have a local account, you can add security questions by going to Settings > Accounts > Sign-in Options > “Update your security questions”. If you’re installing a new PC using a local account, setup will walk you through adding these questions and answers right there in the workflow. Once your security questions are set up, if you find yourself unable to remember your password on the lock screen, you will see a link to reset your password, whereupon clicking you’ll be prompted to enter the answers to your security questions.

View your display info in one convenient location: Beginning with Build 17060, you can now view detailed information about your display by visiting the new “Advanced display settings” page linked at the bottom of Settings > System > Display.

Most of the information should be self-explanatory, but here are a couple of pieces that you might want more detail on:

  • Desktop resolution vs active signal resolution. Typically, your desktop resolution and your active signal resolution will be identical. To provide a smoother experience, Windows prefers to keep your display running at its native signal resolution. If you change your display resolution under Settings > System > Display > Scale and layout > Resolution, you may see a difference between your desktop resolution and your active signal resolution.
  • The mysterious 59 Hz refresh rate. Display enthusiasts may remember this conversation from the Windows 7 days. You may see 59 Hz listed as your refresh rate even though you have set it to 60 Hz, but rest assured that this is by design for monitors and TVs that report only 59.94 Hz but not 60 Hz. Learn more about it here.

Stay tuned for more improvements to display settings! Your feedback is important to us – if there are new features you would like to see in display settings in the coming releases, please let us know through the Feedback Hub. Search for and upvote your favorite features, or file your suggestion under the Desktop Environment > Settings.

Improving your scaling experience: In this flight we’ve made it easier for you to fix apps that become blurry if you dock/undock, RDP, or change display settings. Some desktop apps can become blurry in these scenarios. When this happens, you have to log out and back in to Windows to have these apps render properly. In this flight, you can turn on a feature that will enable these apps to be fixed simply by re-launching them. There are three components to this feature:

  • A new setting in the Display Settings page: Under Settings > System > Display > Advanced scaling, you’ll find a new section called “Fix scaling for apps” where you can enable a setting to let Windows try and fix apps so they’re not blurry.

  • A toast that pops up when we detect that you might have blurry apps on your main display.

  • A per-app override of the global setting. By right clicking on the exe for a desktop apps and choosing properties, you can select “Change High DPI Settings”, then “Override System DPI”, then configure the behavior.

NOTE: This won’t work for all desktop apps and it only improves blurry desktop apps while they’re on the main display. If you’re using multiple displays with different scale factors and running in “Extend” display mode, these apps might still be blurry on secondary displays.

A new Keyboard Settings page: We’re introducing a new Keyboard Settings experience on PC! Now found under the Time & Language Settings, you’ll be able to easily add new keyboard layouts, switch between Japanese 106/109 and English 101/102 keyboard layouts, turn on and off settings like key sounds and autocorrect, and other advanced keyboard-related settings. Additionally you can now change the default keyboard independently of the display language, for example using the French display language and having English as the default keyboard (this option was previously available in Control Panel, but has now been moved to Settings). Duplicate settings from Control Panel have been removed.

A new and improved Region & Language Settings page: As part of our ongoing effort to converge Settings and Control Panel, as well as improve Settings usability, you’ll find with today’s build that we have reimagined the Region & Language Settings. We’ve added icons to each language entry to indicate when language support is installed for display language, text-to-speech, speech recognition, and/or handwriting. We’ve also added an entirely new language selection experience – enabling you to quickly identify available language features per language. This also marks the initial integration of Local Experience Packs, native AppX packages, that with Microsoft Store to enable us to regularly update language resources with translation improvements collected from Windows Insiders and other feedback channels. We’re still fine-tuning the UI, so expect some small changes over the next few flights.

Set data settings to prefer cellular usage: In Cellular Settings you can now choose to use cellular instead of Wi-Fi always or when Wi-Fi is poor. This updated Windows feature allows people with fast LTE connections and large/unlimited data plans to favor cellular whenever available and avoid being stuck on poor Wi-Fi connections.

NOTE: The Cellular Settings page will only be visible for people using PCs with cellular connections.

Improved Data Usage Management: You can now configure data limits and/or place background data restrictions to Wi-Fi and Ethernet connections, in addition to cellular connections, in the Data usage page. The updated settings page aims to support a diverse set of devices and users. Whether you have a PC with cellular connectivity or a metered ethernet network connection, tailor your data usage to your budget and needs. Want to see your data usage at a glance? Right click on the Data usage tab in Settings and pin it to the Start menu to see a data usage live tile.

Reset your Game Mode Settings: Under Settings > Gaming > Game Mode there is a new option called ”Reset Game Mode Settings” that allows you to restore Game Mode settings for their PC back to the default values for the feature.

Improved Per-app Settings: When we added a new context menu option to go straight from the app in Start to the per-app settings in Settings, we mentioned turning this page into a one stop shop for settings related to each app. In today’s build you’ll notice that we now bubble up any permissions the app has asked for, along with an easy option for you to toggle them. We’ve also added links to check background usage, lock screen notifications, and defaults, and options to terminate and/or uninstall the app.

Windows Defender Improvements

Windows Defender Application Guard (WDAG) update: You spoke, and we listened. Microsoft is bringing Windows Defender Application Guard to Windows 10 Professional in the next feature update of Windows 10. Now, like Windows 10 Enterprise users, Windows 10 Pro Users can navigate the Internet in Application Guard knowing their systems are protected from even the most sophisticated browser attacks.

Windows Defender Application Guard provides unprecedented protection against targeted threats using Microsoft’s industry leading Hyper-V virtualization technology. Check out this recent RSA talk on Window Defender Application Guard if you’d like to understand this feature in some more detail.

You can read rest of the changelog on Microsoft’s blog.

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Saurabh Tripathi :Saurabh is Founder of Getting Geek and is an all around computer nerd. Currently Saurabh is at his home messing up with some ugly looking code. Send him your Questions, Suggestions and Pizzas at saurabh@GettingGeek.com