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Windows 10's Timeline isn't going away, but it is losing a big feature

Windows 10 Timeline
Windows 10 Timeline (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft clarified that the Timeline feature for Windows 10 isn't going away.
  • It is, however, losing the ability to sync activity across devices when using a Microsoft account.
  • AAD-connected accounts will continue to be able to sync activity across devices.

When Microsoft announced Windows 10 build 21359 for Dev channel Insiders, one change started making the headlines. Starting with that build, the Windows 10 Timeline feature stopped having the ability to sync activity across devices when using a Microsoft account. This led many to believe that the timeline feature is on the way out. That doesn't exactly appear to be the case, though some major functionality of the feature is going away.

Microsoft has since included bolded text in its blog post to clarify what's going on with the Timeline feature (emphasis by Microsoft):

If you have your activity history synced across your devices through your Microsoft account (MSA), you will no longer have the option to upload new activity in Timeline. AAD-connected accounts won't be impacted. To view web history, Edge and other browsers have the option to look back at recent web activities. You can also view recently used files using OneDrive and Office. Note: Timeline and all your local activity history still remain on Windows 10.

If you're using a Microsoft account, you'll no longer be able to sync activity across devices. This could greatly hinder the effectiveness of the feature for people who want a shared timeline of activity between multiple PCs. AAD-connected (Azure Active Directory-connected) accounts won't see any change.

To replace some of the functionality of the Timeline feature, Microsoft points people to the ability to view recent activity in OneDrive, Office, and Edge. These aren't exactly the same, but they do allow you to locate and jump back into previous activity.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

16 Comments
  • Just leaving more bloat in Windows 10 that no one really uses, like Cortana. Nice.
    Just move it all to optional windows features were the rest of the 'cool' stuff lives.
  • Just because you don't use it, doesn't mean nobody uses it. It has a small number of users, but power users really benefit from it. I really like using it because I'm frequently hopping between two desktops and a laptop. It's really nice being able to open up timeline and hop right back into what I was doing. It's especially useful when I remember when but not where I was working on something. Could it have been improved? Yes.
    Was it's user-base tiny? Definitely.
    Is it useless bloat? Absolutely not.
    Make it optional? Why?
  • Yeah, its great for those of us with at least two Windows PCs, then it used to have Android integration through Microsoft Launcher, though it was mainly only for Edge which is redundant now. Problem is that Timeline never got any improvements or change since they released it. All the complains and users asking for change were never experimented during Insider builds. Heck the animation stutter still remains to some people (mine is perfectly fine, but I understand that some config may need further optimization). Many complain about the clutter, but because Microsoft never put more settings to customized it, especially for Edge. Though since Edge nowadays don't even support it except for Timeline extensions. Its pretty much not used due to little to no apps supporting it, even from Microsoft themselves. Office 365 shows up in the Timeline but it opens a freaking web browser and not the desktop app already in the PC. Why? Who knows from the logic from Microsoft. Its simply stupid that even I can't use.
  • Yeah completely agree (iirc for me it does open Office apps though and not Office,com). I like the idea of timeline, shame MS seemed to have forgotten it.
  • That’s basically the crux of Timeline. It’s iust even more useless now.
  • Timeline remains a mess, particularly when it comes to Office documents that are synced through OneDrive. Removing this (apparently useless) feature may help. But what I really want is Timeline to give me quick access to local files I closed recently, not an utterly useless link to the Office.com version.
  • True, idk why Microsoft did this behaviour. I rather use desktop Office but everytime I click the Activity in the Timeline, it opens Office.com instead and use the web version of Office, even if I have desktop app installed on that machine. It would be also nice for local apps to fully support it, at least from Microsoft themselves. If they are not synced on OneDrive. But hey, its even more useless now except for AAD accounts which is only an enterprise thing.
  • The absolute least they could have done is allow desktop Office apps to open links to office.com by default. That at least would have solved the workflow problem. But it's strange that Office.com is even involved here. Ugh.
  • I don't even get it why Office.com is even involved here either. Unless uer don't have Office apps instead, or anything associated for it, then Office.com make sense. This work flow problem just makes the Timeline unusable, and no wonder why few use it. They ever fix the issue and improve it since then. Shame really, Timeline has a very good potential, if it wasn't abandoned pretty much abandoned long before this state. Ever since Edge Chromium don't support Timeline, it was already doomed.
  • Timeline was destined to fail from the start as who in his right mind would install Microsoft Launcher on his Android phone just to see his phone browser history on his Windows PC? No one knew what Timeline is for or how it works unless he already had a phone with the same Microsoft Account as his Windows 10 PC, and that was only possible with a Windows phone. Cortana failed for the same reason.
  • I was using it on Android. Dunno where you get the idea that it required Windows Phone.
  • Nothing new with Microsoft. All excited to release something that has potential, but is released in a clunky state that's a usability and visual mess. So people try it and think well this sucks, maybe they'll improve it in time. Meanwhile, MS looks at the stats, sees no one is using it, never improves it, and lets it die a slow painful death.
  • Ugh another anti-consumer decision from MSFT.
  • So basically, still useless pretty much the rest of the users except in Enterprise who did take advantage of them. Pretty much killed anyways. I wished they did something with Timeline to make it more useful and redesign some of its functionalities. First the clutter complains has to do with using Edge before putting visited sites pretty much everything in there. I think its better if they have made sessions instead, where you can go back to the last session, restoring tabs with its own history with it. This way, we can jump to the last session as we open Edge. Just leave the option for those who still prefer having each site visted visible in Timeline. 2nd, Idk what Microsoft efforts are in here, but they could've have partnered at least one or two developers to take advantage of Timeline for productivity purposes, such as Adobe. Though this is sort of works already as I can open previous PSD through Timeline. It would be nice to have something you can open a Premiere project for example as a whole or show Adobe Cloud recent projects on it once you connect Adobe and MSA. Related to 3rd, Microsoft themselves to blame not really taking advantage of it as most other apps don't really support it except from Microsoft Office. Even then, what's frustrating is that when I open Word file for example, it opens a web browser using Office web instead of desktop applications I already have. This myself unable to use it due to this stupid behaviour. Timeline demise is already been seen to get killed a while ago, due to Microsoft simply again just release this feature and pretty much never touched it again to improve, change some behaviours for the better, and fixing bugs like the animation issue. The last time they did something is where they planning to put the Acrylic effect then reverse that decision, its not even a functionality change but just cosmetic. Timeline had a great idea and conept, but failed due to lack of continued support, improvements and push even from Microsoft apps themselves. Its doomed to failure because of this. Shame as much as I want to use it further, its only been a web history feed for a while. Sadly some UWP apps do use this like myTube. Alas that's gone.
  • I don't understand Microsoft, while I do not use Timeline or even have a MS account, I know a few people who find time line really useful, for the software it works with, which to be honest is not much. It is ok for Ms to say they can use one drive, but unless you pay extra, yo only have a limited amount of space in Onedrive.
    I wonder if that is why they are doing it, try to get people to pay one drive.
  • Timeline is good in a calendar.
    Timeline is good for know organisation.
    Timeline must be useful to anything.
    And we keep anything of tiles UI for later.