Is Windows Anywhere the Future of Synching the Windows 10 UX Across Devices?

Is Windows Anywhere the Future of Synching the Windows 10 UX Across Devices?

Yesterday Microsoft released Windows 10 Build 14926 to members of its Windows Insider Program Fast Ring as part of the Redstone 2 development branch.

This was just the fourth build released to testers since the Redstone 2 development process went public with testers.

Redstone 2 is expected to be the third major update to Windows 10 and is due to arrive sometime in early 2017 but there are not a lot of details or a roadmap on what we should expect to see in this next big update right now.

However, Build 14926 has some of the first visual changes for Redstone 2 and it is one that was not even mentioned in Microsoft's release notes for this build that might be of great interest to many of you out there.

Thanks to a tweet I came across on Twitter last night, I found a new setting in the Windows Settings app under Accounts called Windows Anywhere that was not noted by Microsoft for this build.

Windows Anywhere Settings

If you take a look at the Sync your settings page listed just above Windows Anywhere you will find the top portion for each of these pages are nearly duplicates:

Sync your settings in Windows 10

Now this could just be a rebranding of the Sync your settings to let it be known as Windows Anywhere but a tweet from Walking Cat on Twitter gives some insight that this might be more than a simple rebranding.

In that tweet he shared a link to a new Microsoft job listing for a Software Engineer that was posted just a couple of days ago.

Here is part of the job description:

"The Windows user experience is moving to the cloud. We’re reinventing how users connect to their apps, files and settings across all their Windows devices. We’re making it possible for your user experience to follow you. We’re passionate about UX and transforming how users interact with our products.

As a member of our team you will: Design, develop and perfect new ways of interacting with apps and files across all Windows devices."

Just based on this description it would appear that Windows Anywhere is much more than a rebranding with their use of the term reinventing to describe their goals with syncing the user experience across Windows 10 devices. Personally, this is terrific news because one of the things Windows 8/8.1 did very well was to not only sync your settings but it also synched the Start Menu layout and queued up your installed apps for reinstallation after a restore or clean install.

In Windows 10 many of those same settings are also synched but the work required to get your system back up and running like it was takes much longer because most of your user experience and installed apps do not get synched across devices.

However, if Microsoft is about to undertake this as a project for Redstone 2 or maybe even Redstone 3 then I have some recommendations on how they can improve this process in Windows 10 and make it a truly seamless experience across devices.

The following items should be synched across all Windows 10 devices:

  • Everything in Windows Settings that is related to customization of Windows 10
  • The customized layout of the Start Menu
  • Taskbar layout including app/program shortcuts
  • Desktop shortcuts
  • System Tray and icon layout
  • Settings for Notifications and Actions
  • System customizations such as the storage location for folders like Documents, Pictures, Screenshots, Video, etc.
  • Implement the ability to sync app reinstalls upon system restore/reinstall and include their shortcuts in Start Menu layout, Taskbar or on Desktop

Of course, since this is a multi-device cloud based world an option in the Windows Anywhere UI to select which devices can sync all or part of these elements would be very useful along with a process/option for how often those settings should be backed up to the cloud.

Another consideration would be to add a step to the restore/reinstall process to select which devices settings you want to use on that system during the initial setup.

I am sure there are other areas that would be very useful if synched across devices so let us know in the comments what your thoughts are on that subject.

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

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