It has been 28 days since Microsoft shipped a development build for Redstone 4 (RS4), that is the code name for the next feature update of Windows 10 expected in March 2018, to their millions of Windows Insiders for external testing.
We last saw a new build for the next feature update of Windows 10 four weeks ago, and that release contained the first elements of the much anticipated Windows Timeline feature with new activity history listed in the Microsoft Privacy Dashboard.
Remember, we first saw Timeline for Windows back at Build 2017, and it was initially announced that this feature would be released as part of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. It didn't make it into the update, but now the new Timeline feature is finally in the hands of Windows Insider Program member. This should line it up to be part of Redstone 4’s release early next year.
This latest build not only delivers the first live use of Timeline but it also provides a massive list of other new features and enhancements.
I have included a gallery with this article to highlight some of the other new features that are available in Redstone 4 Build 17063 however, I am going to layout the Timeline for Windows user interface right here on the main story page so we can cover it a little more in-depth.
Timeline is an extension of Task View, a feature in Windows 10 that enables you to easily move between programs and apps as you are using Virtual Desktops on your device. Timeline makes that movement a much richer experience by providing you a listing, by date, of your activity across all of the Windows 10 computers you access under your Microsoft Account.
Although the data it can share right now is limited to a handful of apps and software including Photos, Microsoft Edge, Word, and Notepad developers can begin adding the appropriate code into their own apps to take advantage of the Timeline feature themselves.
Timeline Privacy Control
Privacy is always at the front of everyone’s mind when a new feature is introduced that uses our data to help us with our work and Timeline is no exception so that is where I will begin.
In Windows Settings>Privacy>Activity history you will find controls for turning Timeline off, controlling what email accounts can be used to feed activity data into the Timeline on that device, and an ability to clear all of your activity history. I like that Microsoft makes it possible to connect with more than one Microsoft Account for Timeline activity because it allows you to get both work and personal data to display in the Timeline UI.
The Timeline for Windows UI
As I mentioned earlier, Timeline is an enhancement for Task View so it continues to display your active software programs and apps as part of the interface.
You still use WINDOWS KEY + TAB to open this view or you can click on the Task View button on the Taskbar
The new Task View UI, as you can see in the above image, shows you any Virtual Desktops at the top, open software and apps beneath that, and then your Timeline activities at the bottom. On the right side is a search icon (more on that shortly) and a scroll bar to move down through the activities on your Timeline.
Timeline is a continuum of your activity laid out in date order with the most recent at the top and oldest at the bottom. Obviously, as you use Build 17063 and its successors your activity history will fill out even more. In addition, as developers enhance their own apps that will add to the types of content that can appear on the Timeline.
Timeline and all of your activity is indexed and can be searched using the Search icon over above the scroll bar. This can help you find items that are back in your activity history much easier.
By default and depending on the size of your screen, only a certain number of your top activities are displayed on your Timeline. However, you can click on the See all XX activities link next to the time/date and scroll thru all of your activity in that time frame. Just click on the See only top activities to return to the default view.
Even Cortana plays a role in the Action Center to help you re-connect with activities you just left on another device. Selecting Resume all opens each item in its corresponding software or app and More activities will open up Timeline for you to review your recent activity.
For me, and I use multiple devices throughout the course of my day, this is a welcomed feature because it makes accessing other items very easy as I move between computers. I am really looking forward to the work developers will add to their apps to make them aware of the Timeline for Windows feature.