Skip navigation

First elements of Windows Timeline appear in latest Windows Insider Build

Windows Timeline is a major enhancement -- and we think you can look for it in March 2018 time frame. Here's what we found when digging around our privacy settings.

With the release of Windows 10 RS4 Build 17040, Microsoft has introduced the underlying elements of the Windows Timeline, a feature designed to let users keep working on apps as they switch between multiple devices across different computing platforms.

You might recall that Windows Timeline didn't make it into the Fall Creators Update. However, it looks like the plumbing has been installed and Windows Timeline will be available in the near future.

There are no UI elements in this week's Windows Insider Fast Ring Build 17040 for Windows Timeline, but a new privacy settings option has been added, and it links directly to your Microsoft Account Privacy Dashboard. This is where you can see the data which will become part of your Windows Timeline.

Activity history in Windows Settings>Privacy

Additionally, there is an option from this settings page to clear all of your currently stored activity history:

Delete all activity history from your connected Microsoft Account

Hold off on deleting everything right away. This way, you can check out the interesting part of the data over on your Microsoft Account Privacy Dashboard. The activity history shown is an expansion of the privacy tools which were added to Microsoft Accounts prior to the release of the Creators Update. If you click on the Manage my activity info link at the bottom of the Activity history settings page, you will be taken to that Privacy Dashboard Overview tab. From here just click on the Activity history tab to see the data that will eventually become part of your Windows Timeline once the UI is added to Redstone 4.

Activity history listing on the Microsoft Account Privacy Dashboard

You will find cards that contain information connected to voice searches, web searches and browsing, plus various locations you have been with a connected device connected to your Microsoft Account. Each card contains data on when and how that information was obtained. For voice commands you can even play back what was heard by the system.

Activity history entries in the Privacy Dashboard

Remember that all of these items are listed here because you gave permission for them to be collected so this is not secret information that Microsoft is gathering. Your list of activity data will always reflect your permissions.

You can expand each entry in your activity history to examine the details, and you will find a full explanation about why this was collected along with an option to delete this specific entry.

Details view of an entry in your Activity history timeline

The information here demonstrates that users still have full control over what Microsoft has about your activities when using Windows 10 plus links to learn more about the data collection.

As I mentioned earlier, all that is missing at this point is the UI that will be part of Windows 10 to display all of this activity data on your system.

Back in May of this year at BUILD 2017, this was the interface that Joe Belfiore showed during his keynote demo for Windows Timeline:

If this was your live data, you would be able to compare this to the list of activity in your Privacy Dashboard.

We have some small elements of the ability to share information across your ecosystem of devices with the Share to PC feature that is part of Microsoft Edge on iOS and Android. In addition, if you are using Cortana on your iOS or Android handset you can also see activities between devices that you can use and pick up where you left off to continue that activity.

Windows Timeline is a major productivity element for Windows 10 Redstone 4 and I honestly would not be surprised to see Microsoft give the Spring 2018 feature update a marketing name that reflects that functionality.

Although the company does not talk about when we will see new features in pre-release builds of Windows 10, just having this data already in place and collected together is a good indication that we are closing in on the first iteration of the feature in an upcoming build of Redstone 4.

But, wait...there's probably more so be sure to follow me on Twitter and Google+.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.