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Microsoft bringing new 'People Bar' and night mode features to Windows 10 Redstone 2

Microsoft is now well into development of its next planned update for Windows 10 codenamed Redstone 2. Insiders have been testing early Redstone 2 builds for a few weeks now, and so far not much is new regarding features, as the company is focusing on under-the-hood changes right now.

Luckily, features should start to pick up soon, and two new features I hear are in the works involve the taskbar and screen brightness. According to sources familiar with the matter, Microsoft is working on a new People Bar that will show faces of recent/active contacts on your taskbar, down next to the System Tray.

In internal concepts (like the one seen above), contacts show up in circular icons similar to that in the People Hub. I'm told this feature will hook up to Skype, GroupMe and even Office for things like active collaborators within Office, with the ability to quickly message people by selecting their icon.

I'm told this is a feature planned for Redstone 2, even though it's been in development since before Windows 10 originally shipped back in 2015. It's been in the works under the name People Bar, and recent builds have seen code that represents this. However, Microsoft may opt to call it something different by the time it ships.

Speaking of code, some Insiders have spotted references to a new feature called Blue Light (placeholder name) that will be toggle-able via the Action Center. By the looks of things will act similarly to f.lux, an app that automatically changes the tone and color of your screen depending on your current lighting environment or time.

F.lux helps with eyestrain and is a favorite tool among power-users and those working long hours at computer screens especially late into the night. F.lux dims your display and gives it a yellow hue that reduces eye fatigue and lessens interference with your circadian rhythm that could affect your sleep patterns. This feature will be super helpful as a built-in option within Windows, especially if you're always operating in Microsoft Office all day. Since Office is playing a prominent role in Redstone 2 and Redstone 3, I'm honestly not surprised to see this feature is in the works.

Both Apple and Google have introduced similar blue-light omitting technologies in iOS and Android, respectively.

To refresh, I've already revealed that Redstone 2 and Redstone 3 will incorporate a new Office Hub and Working Sets feature that will make being productive within Windows far easier. We've also heard that OneClip is making a comeback, too. Check out our Windows 10 Redstone 2: What We Know bulletin for everything Redstone 2 related.

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

  • Sounds great. I just hope Blue Light gets feature parity with f.lux
  • I hope it does better with deeper integration than f.lux had in 7. I looked at a laptop with f.lux on it a couple times and it immediately made me queasy due to pixels looking different depending on the angle of view.
  • All I'm really hoping for is that Dark Room mode (Which inverts the screen in a way that looks cooler)
  • Yeah, I'm always have this concern that MS may implement something but rather half-baked. Hopefully it will be as good as f.lux at least, it's not that feature heavy to begin with and MS can have deeper integration to the whole OS and for individual apps.
  • About time they started paying attention to the people app itself, quite a step down from what it was on WP8/Windows 8.
  • Really they disappointed us a lot in this case...
  • Agreed. I cant even make use of the people app in Windows 10 because it won't load contacts from my MS account.  That means things like the "Share" functionality or Cortana "send a message to x" no longer work for me.  Everything works fine on my 950, but not on the Surface Pro 4 or desktop.  I'm really bummed that MS has managed to screw up things that were previously very well done.
  • The problem was public response I think, people didn't like the old people hub because it wasn't like IOS. It has the history which is useful but I would love to FB, Twitter and Linkedin back in there, as well as the contact options you had before. I used to us that all the time
  • How so?  I think it has more features.  I like the history pane on the right showing your last conversations.  Maybe it doesn't have Facebook integration as much, but otherwise it's pretty great.  I think they'll keep adding to it as well.
  • facebook integration doesn't work on pc though. I also wish you could search for people in Cortana.
  • No groups. That alone killed the app for me.
  • It's a huge step down and frustratingly they never given it much attention than it should be. For the whole year People app looks really like a pre-alpha project with UI that doesn't look like from a respectable multi-billion software company, even a undergraduate student that have both good design and good programming skills might even do way better. Idk why they haven't open up an API for 3rd-developers to integrate their apps to People app. Seriously though, there is so much potential to be literally a hub for anything social networking and people management if they just open a good set of API for devs to take advantage. This is something I honestly do not wish to be reminded about the bad things of MS. Releasing a good things that have tons of potential and killing it because of bad execution or abandonment. MS sometimes don't believe to their own potential and then later other companies implement something similar or better then MS try to catch-up horribly. This could be the reason why some people just hated MS or not enthusiastic about it because of wonderful ideas wasted for whatever reason. MS got more than having an ability to make things better but chooses not to.
  • That 8/8.1 People app was simply awesome, gorgeous UI and very useful. The new Wndows 10 People app just looks garbage in front of the old People app.
  • I use CF.Lumen on my rooted android phone, and I love it, because it fades the screen to deep red using the light sensor. So if the light sensor detects that you're in a really really dark room, it will activate. fantastic for movie theaters and just waking up in the morning. I much prefer it to sunset based timers like f.lux, which is great on my surface, because it's much more flexi bale. I wonder if they will implement something similar here. Would be awesome. I also wonder if they could ever make a feature where my surface light sensor will control the brightness of a secondary monitor. Because most monitors don't have built in light sensors, but they can get incredibly bright (mine is usually set to 25% brightness and it still feels incredibly bright most of the time). Would be awesome if a laptop with a light sensor (since macs have had them forever, and most other laptops are finally making them standard) could pass it's values through to the secondary display.
  • You would have to calibrate secondary monitors manually or wait for ms to officially support a list of monitors which will hardly cover a fraction of them considering how many models there are
  • I'd totally do the calibration thing, but you're right in that manufacturers probably all implement brightness functions in their own way
  • They should make use of sensors, which is a step up from f.lux as far as I know. Knowing MS, I have a bit concern about that how fully-baked the implementation will be. Still the potential is really great here since this feature have deeper integration to the OS and may have access to drivers to take advantage of those sensors, hopefully.
  • F.lux will make the screen redder if the backlight dims, which is nice. But it won't automatically turn on based on the light sensor.
    I'm hoping this will be well done, since they're starting on it pretty early, and there are many many examples on how to do it well.
  • The people hub looks good, though I'm not sure on the benefit over pinning them to start. Also, can we please have groups in the PC version of People already??
  • Start can stop the workflow if you want to just see who is active
  • "Both Apple and Google have introduced similar blue-light omitting technologies"??? On topic, good to see that we will start seeing new features soon. Hoping to see some helpful stand out features.
  • Apple introduced night shift mode in iOS 9.3; Google has it but hidden in Nougat for some reason (likely not fully ready).
  • Great. Just now binged why blue light emission in night is hazardous. Good to see that this will be coming soon rather than late. Microsoft, however, might be the first to get this feature to all screen sizes and not just mobile.
  • True. And yes, as a former sleep technician I encourage people to use f.lux (for now) if they work in front of a PC at night. I have it on all my devices.
  • I did not realize f.lux is available for Windows. I have it on an old jailbroken iPad.
  • f.lux is been in Windows forever, but yeah I recommended it to everybody to have. Hopefully MS will have feature parity to f.lux.
  • I did not realize f.lux is available on Windows until I read this article. Now I have already downloaded and installed it on my computer.
  • Exciting news! New features are already out for testing? I hope RS2 makes it on time.
  • Since they have not announced a date, it should be easy to be on time.
  • I think since most of the underhood stuff is already done, they can actually work on more features this time around. This is why Windows 10 as a service is so important they dont have to basically start all over again on a new OS. They just keep improving the old one.
  • As exciting as the Windows as a Service (tag) hanging up for the future release, it should work with ppl's preferences and devices.
  • Office Hub, Working Sets, People Bar and Night Mode are awesome features to have on desktop. But what about Mobile? Wasn't RedStone 2 supposed to have a focus on Mobile?
  • I would hope that Night Mode comes to Mobile.
  • Well the focus on Mobile maybe just means that they will release new better mobile devices hardware? Hopefully that its just too early to see the plan but we already have enough hope for this 2017 and it has to happen no matter what. They already generate enough lack of committment to this space. We already read tons of editorials to help us stay to not to hate MS and stay on this ecosystem for the most part. I'm still hopeful that there will be still a committment to this space and don't completely retrench into enterprise only (or mostly).
  • Blue light is very nice but People Bar doesn't really seem like something I want to use. I hope you'll be able to disable it.
  • Everything will have a choice.
  • OneDrive placeholders' never had a choice
  • So true. We got OneDrive app which is great for tablets, but what about Placeholders that is beneficial for any PC that have limited space for storage but have OneDrive space more than the device synced into. I don't really get the logic why remove it when there is no equivalent replacement. The only reasoning they gave is because they want consistent sync engine which means we are using the older Windows 7 ones. Instead of actually just use the Windows 8.1 engine and improve it from there and make it consistent.
  • @aXross; Because it was a good feature and worked. I never understood the great ideas are never forwarded to the next OS It just get cut even if it works great. In my opinion that is being dictatorial if not mean spirited which make no sense.
  • I'm not really sure either. I really think that MS doesn't have problem with talents but it has problem likely in their management and philosophy. Many awesome things produced in MS internally and some gets public, but somehow after a while many also gets killed because of several factors like lack of improvements, half-baked at start, no or poor marketing, or simply never gets past internally because "it doesn't align to their <whatever>". 
  • New features are nice but we are still lacking on current features we have always had and no longer have. I'll be happy when I can find (not text or email, just find) a contact using Cortana, which I can't. And I'll be happier when I can send an email to a group of contacts using the Mail App, which I still can't. I seem to take a lot of flak on this subject for some reason. I deal almost exclusivley with tech un-savy folks that have been forced into using the Mail App because WinLiveMail used with accounts, no longer supports full sync of Contacts, Calendar AND People. Well now that the Mail App no longer supports sending a F-ing group message to Book Club, my tech un-savy userbase gets a little flustered when i tell them to change interfaces altogether and "just" use the website to do that. It should not be that hard, the F-ing Mail App should be able to send F-ing group emails, like the F-ing WinPhone can before we get to Redstone 2 and new features. IMO. Microsoft has created a really good interface for un-savy users, but my god, contact groups, WTF? Clearly i'm just venting on a subject that has nothing to do with this post, so ignore this rant. :(  
  • You'll be able to search for Contacts with Cortana soon, I'm told :)
  • Jimmy, all those things you are asking for are new feature requests.
  • I get the new app model needs to mature. But sending to groups has always been on the phone currently and back thru Winpho 8, so why is it so difficult to put into the People App on the computer if its already on the phone? UWP? Not yet I guess. Sending to Groups is basic functionality. It would have been nice to have this in place before they removed ability to use WinLiveMail with @outlook accounts. Also tapping the start button and typing in 3 letters to find a contact was something I could do in 2010. When they removed this "feature" (indexing Outlook to work with Windows search) it was a giant blow to my particular brand of productivity which includes the constant and never ending looking up and dealing with Contacts. I am extremely happy with the Win10 app model and current direction. But if you look up these 2 particular issues in the forums, we have all waited long enough for this basic functionality. 6 years of missing: Start - Search - for a contact, is ignoring customer needs; and inability to send email to a group from the app is equally aggregious at this stage of the game. My job is to move people over to the new Apps as soon as possible, and when they can't email Book Club, it makes the job harder than it should be. I put in these forums, because these issues have been virtually ignored in the Microsoft Forums AND feature suggestions for YEARS.  
  • I'd just be happy if my People app would sync contacts with my account. That would be a really cool feature!
  • Ugh.  Shoving more Windows 7 garbage.  I do NOT use the Task Bar. I don't pin anything to it, it is set to Hide mode, and I do NOT use the stupid Notification Center.
  • Thank you for saying this. They need to spend more time walking people to what 8.1 was because we all know that is where we are supposed to be... That plus dynamic live tiles.
  • It must suck being less productive.
  • Relax dawg, windows isn't built specifically for you. People may have use for this. The feature shouldn't bother you since your taskbar is already hidden, right?!
  • For Windows 8, there were utilities to make the interface more like Windows 7. Stardock's Start8 and Classic Shell come to mind. Classic shell now supports Windows 10, and Stardock has an updated version (Start10), I guess for people who don't find Windows 10 enough like Windows 7. However, the fact that such utilities exist indicates that the Windows 10 interface can be modified. In that case I find it interesting that I haven't heard of a single utility that attempts to bring back the old Windows 8 style start screen or related interface elements. I would think that if the Win8 interface really had any significant popularity, there would be at least one.
  • Sooo.. don't use it then? What a pointless comment..
  • Ummmm Taskbar is a crucial Windows Shell component, even as basic as switching apps... This is not even Windows 7 feature. That OS is long stopped getting any sort of features.
  • Ummmm Taskbar is a crucial Windows Shell component, even as basic as switching apps... This is not even Windows 7 feature. That OS is long stopped getting any sort of features.
  • So don't use. Simple! What is your point again?
  • So because you don't use it they should ditch it for the rest of us. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • The taskbar is a Windows feature. It was there in Windows 8 and is still here. You have a terrible opinion on pretty much everything. This is the idiot who bought an Xbox One solely for Kinect gestures...not the actual content that's delivered on it.
  • i really like the idea of people bar hope to see it mature and in the final release build its going to be interesting 
  • It would be great if it worked with messenger app and so on (that you pick how to contact them).
    Also if it could work with calling by phone (like macOs)
  • After started using f.lux @4900k in day time I can see the difference when I switch the temp to 6000K BOOM the blue light. Happy to see this coming alongside.  
  • Can they please fix brightness on my release preview 950XL first? Auto 'suggested' brightness just fails to dark all the time and now since .103 the crap 'resume to just red hello led unless you press power button off and on again' thing has returned. And glance hasn't worked properly for many builds. Just fades to virtually black. Just me??
  • Sounds great! I hope they implement a system-wide way to switch online status, so that you could be "away" or "offline" in every messenger app installed.
  • Before the People bar (or any "people" oriented function) can be great, they will need to do a better job with their overall contact experience by bringing it into the 21st century. Skype still uses it's own profile page that is entirely independent from that of your Microsoft account. GroupMe is the same. Xbox is more closely tied to it, but still independent. Outlook/ doesn't offer any sort of "contact friending/following". All you can do is save someone's email address. Skype's friending system is awful (unless you like lots of sex chat bots friending you). GroupMe's system for adding contacts is great since all it requires is their mobile number but their profile's are entirely independent of Skype and Microsoft. ​I would like to see one contact/friends list and one central profile. Users would have the flexibility to display different information to different groups (eg a different profile picture for Xbox vs Skype or only show my cell phone number to Skype and GroupMe contacts). Likewise users would be able to set preferences like don't show me GroupMe friends on my Xbox but do show me Xbox and Skype users.
  • RS2 features I want to see
    1. Live tiles on desktop.  For the love of all that is good, why is this taking so long?!?!?  Give us a transparency option so we can see our wallpaper.  And give us notification badges on pinned tiles.
    ​2. A better "all apps" menu.  Yes, I know we got a refresh in RS1 ut it's not great.  I do't miss 8.1, but "all apps" was much better in that version. 3. A recycle bin on the trashcan.  As touch becomes more and more common, this makes more sense 4. An actual show desktop button that you can see and touch.  The show desktop invisible corner is a bad ui design element.  It is nearly impossible to discover unless you know it exists. 5. A refresh of the systray.  The systray has been in this current form since Vista.  It's time for an overhaul to include the peopletry, recycle bin, show desktop, etc.  ​6. Messaging Anywhere.  I don't really care if it is a stand-alone app (prefer it it be built into the OS) or as part of Skype, but it needs to be there.  Was disappointed they pulled it from RS1.  It needs to work with all phones and all carriers.        
  • Full screen start menu. Voila. Why people still use the desktop for anything is beyond me. :P Messaging anywhere is coming to skype, RS2 or no RS2. Don't see why it wouldn't work with certain carriers..?
  • I'd like to see that stupid little Show Desktop slice disappear. Using the Desktop is so 1999. I simply turned off desktop icons altogether, so I'd like the option to remove Show Desktop, since I always hit it when I'm trying to hit Action Center, which is you know... Actually useful.
  • Architect here. 8+ hours on computer everyday. Could really really use that blue light option. Fuzzy text from far away cause of the eye strain. Pumped.
  • Redstone 2 shaping up nicely!
  • I really wanted this
  • That wallpaper though! Anybody have a lonk to that??
  • I meant Link!
  • I had the impression RS2 would focus on Mobile. People Bar doesn't look like anything that consistently fits in the Mobile small screen ui. By the way, Notification and Action Center is a mere me too to Android and iOS. I feel they should at least blend the notifications into Cortana and having them cloud managed in order to have notification consistency over devices.
  • MS never said that. It's just a baseless rumor.
  • Just fix Cortana for Windows 10 education
  • Wow... I didn't expect them to want to catch up so fast :)
  • Maybe make my brightness button work? 
  • on a different topic....i feel in windows store....MS should show the download speed if a download or app update is in progress in win store :) 
  • No. A thousand times no. It shows progress, that's all that's really needed. We don't need everything to be covered in a mess of needlessly nerdy stats.
  • Link of that wallpaper, plz....
  • Jhatu log .....kabhi windows phone k lie bhi kuch karo sale chutie
  • cool beans
  • I think it would be really cool idea if with that new People Bar, if you have your Windows Mobile device synced up, your text messages and other message (i.e. Facebook Messenger, GroupMe, Whatsapp, etc) notifications would pop out from the People Bar instead of a notification from the Action Center. Think the W8.1 People Hub, but better.