Windows 10 has rolled out a new feature that allows you to group together tasks on virtual desktops. While the feature leaves a lot to be desired compared to other OSes – it’s not without merit for its usability. The purpose for most would be to separate open tabs in browsers and other applications by task, or by work and play.
Setting up the feature doesn’t take much effort – it’s already enabled for you, and pinned to the task bar in a default install of Windows 10. If you hover over all available icons in the task bar, look for the one labeled ‘Task view’, that has a picture of three rectangles with one centered in front of the other two. This task view will bring up two things – first being all the open applications arranged in a view for your currently selected desktop. The second will be below all this content – Desktop 1 and Desktop 2 (only one if you haven’t set up another yet). You can click the ‘New Desktop’ button on the far right to create extras as you please.
You can use the task view button to switch between your desktops – or the keyboard command of CTRL+WIN+ARROW (left or right). When you flip to another desktop you’ll note that there are no open applications. All your apps, files and settings are available to you from this virtual desktop. You can open up a set of tabs to work on a certain task for a while – and switch back to what you were doing on the other desktop instantly. Well implemented by MS, if simple.
The biggest missing feature from this service is the ability to map shortcuts and other files to the virtual desktop permanently. Unfortunately, MS missed the mark on this spot. If you remove a shortcut on the desktop from Desktop 1, it will be removed from all other Desktops you have opened. This hinders the ability for you to set up a desktop for yourself that is geared toward managing photos – with all those apps pinned to the desktop – and another with all your mail, office suite and personal links. Certainly not the end of the world, but it’s been available as a feature in Linux for a number of years.
Hopefully we will see this in an upcoming update soon – Windows 10 v 1511 and subsequent updates to it have yet to resolve the ‘problem’. I would suggest submitting feedback to Microsoft via the built in Windows 10 tools if you want this feature as much as I do. It requires that you sign into your MSFT account – but its well worth the effort to let the MSFT team know you want Virtual Desktops to work better. Click the start button, search for ‘Windows Feedback’ and click on the link. Follow the onscreen prompts to let them know what you think.