Windows Timeline support is being removed from Microsoft Launcher on Android

Ms Launcher Timeline Deprecation
Ms Launcher Timeline Deprecation (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Windows Timeline is being removed from Microsoft Launcher soon.
  • Microsoft recommends users use the Launcher's recents widget.
  • Recents can also be found in Office and Windows Search.

Microsoft's Timeline feature on Windows 10 has seen little success since it's debut, with only a handful of applications really taking advantage of the cross-device syncing capabilities that Timeline provides. While Timeline is still part of Windows 10 today, other Microsoft products appear to be moving away from it in favor of a more traditional "recents" UI.

In the latest Microsoft Launcher beta, a new notification is present that tells the user that Timeline support inside the Microsoft Launcher is going away, and that users should instead use the recents interface found in the Launcher feed, Microsoft Office, and Windows Search.

This doesn't paint a very good picture for the future of Timeline on Windows, but if we're honest, that's not a bad thing. Timeline was a neat idea that was executed poorly. A feature that's designed to surface recent documents and files should have been placed in the "start" menu from the very beginning, not Task View.

Best Android Phones in 2020

Microsoft hasn't announced that Timeline is going away on Windows, but it is going away on the Mircrosoft Launcher. Perhaps we'll see Timeline morph into something else on Windows 10 in the future, or maybe Microsoft will just leave it to stagnate further like they have for many other Windows 10 features (looking at you, My People.)

Are you an active Timeline user? How do you feel about it being removed from the Microsoft Launcher on Android? Let us know in the comments.

Thanks for the tip, Tiago.

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

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

  • Maybe if they remove Timeline from Windows 10 they can finally fix those goddamn broken animations in Task View.
  • You can disable timeline. (Also that last stutter on those apps annoys me too.)
  • I know you can, but as you said, that doesn't fix the animations. My hope is that if they remove Timeline they'll actually have to spend time on Task View again.
  • Timeline never worked well for me on Android and it's been hit or miss with the new Edge. That said, I hope they keep it in Windows for the benefits it brings Office if nothing else. Working across hundreds of documents and webpages per week is much more manageable when I can use timeline to search for things by day and see other things that were in use around the same time. It's an absolute game changer for research.
  • Interesting that you say that, I had never considered the possibility. On the other hand, I upgraded my ram to 64gb and got the Ryzen 3900x mostly so that I could run about 2000 tabs open (with all the firefox addons including session manager) at the same time without much performance degradation, which worked really quite beautifully, but as I think about your idea I wonder how much less effort would need to be expended with auto-chronological-sorting. Conversely, it seems as if it would take more time due to having to re-open things constantly. Even with my NVME drive, office, adobe etc. do not open instantly, and it would be tedious having to wait for each document to open.
  • Am I the only one that can't clear time-line? I've followed everything I could find and all the history comes right back up the next day.
  • Settings > Privacy > Activity history > Unmark both boxes and switch the toggle in "Show activities of theses accounts" for your account. There's a "clear" button there too. Doing this made them go away for me. edit: my laptop is in Portuguese, so I don't know if the menus are named exactly like that in English.
  • Never really used it much. Played around with it once awhile back, decided it provided no benefit to me, so always removed Task View from my taskbar on a fresh Windows install. Honestly didn't even know it was part of Microsoft Launcher. Speaking of the People App, that's another immediate removal on a fresh Windows install. I have to use the Windows 10 Store Apps Uninstaller program off Microsoft's TechNet site.
  • I for one will miss it. I've been waiting for web pages to be included again. It was so much easier to find a page than digging through the browser history. Most of the time the image in timeline was all that I needed to find the page. Timeline is one of the better ideas Microsoft had. And yes I frequently use/used it in the Launcher. Again, it made finding visited websites easier the somewhat cludgy history search in the browser.
  • You can use the chrome extension to reintegrate the web pages if you use Chrome or the new edge ;)
  • No, dammit I actually use this feature sometimes! This is totally Microsoft's fault. They put yet another feature out with ZERO communication on it. I know people only find out about it and get freaked out by it because a screen flys up with a bunch of information. They must think they did something wrong. WTF would devs support a feature that no one knows about?
  • Funny that when I told some people in my workplace how to use that Windows Timeline, they actually love it (as long as they use Edge legacy of course). It allows them to go back to their previous files and webpage they worked on more quickly and search were great. As they said, neat idea but sadly poor execution and little push to users and developers. I actually like Timeline but the lack of more supports from apps even from Microsoft themselves what kills it. Now wait for few years till Apple and Google implement this on their OS. Especially Apple now pretty much have Live Tile-like homescreen on latest iOS version.
  • Yeah, I kind of tried teaching at my work a bit, bit its hard enough teaching people basic computer navigation. 😜
  • The thing is your ecosystem benefits starts to fade off if you don't have your own physical device ecosystem. Due to lackluster presence on phones and most people having only one PC at home never made timeline very useful. Same goes for some of the nice features like nearby sharing. It doesn't work with android phones and I only have single laptop for my PC needs & there goes it's usefulness out of the window. One thing they should do is allow USB based your phone app connectivity along with wireless. I like wireless but usb connection makes so much sense. It is faster, Zero lag, better connection success, apps feature on your phone will really shine with USB as it would feel 99% native because of Zero lag and zero stutter & of course it charges your phone while working on your PC. A device like surface duo which has limitations on battery size and have to power dual displays battery tends to be drained faster than normal. It just makes so much sense. They can even make proper file manager builtin to the your phone app. I need that 😒 sometimes I just want to copy files to my PC small files like some 1-2MB pdf that would be really useful if I can see and transfer all my files to PC wirelessly and usb both.
  • For small file transfers you can use apps like roamit or even signal to send stuff to yourself. Also you can just put it into your onedrive and it syncs pretty instantaneously.
  • I actually use timeline with my android device and windows computer, pretty sad to see it go on android
  • Microsoft always creates useful and interesting features but then kills them
  • Now that they've removed Timeline, maybe they can start working on Live Tiles again and keep up with Apple's new OS...
  • It's just excellet how Microsoft keeps removing good stuff from its OS based on some funky telemetry. How about making sure that people can upgrade their OS to be able to use the feature in the first place. I jus "love" how Microsoft is removing a feature after one year or so lifespan while the majority of people out there had never even have a chance to see it.
  • Has anyone else ever noticed how Zac will tend to rationalize decisions MS makes, even when he ends up doing a complete 180 over time? In this article, he says that it's actually a good thing Timeline is being removed because it sucks so bad. Yet when Timeline was newly released, however, he called it "pretty great" and "incredibly useful" in his 1803 review article. This is not the first time I've picked up on it, but just find it a little disappointing...
  • To stand in line with Zac, I was very impressed by the idea of time-line when it got released. However while using it the anticipation faded away and now I'm fine with it to go away. The use case was good but performance and overall experience were not. Especially when they changed to the new edge and dropped the feature (or didn't include it, not even now). So I can understand the shift in view
  • Well sadly what a feature tends to get killed due to lack of support especially from its maker, Microsoft. Windows Timeline indeed lack of more apps support, but at least it was useful when using Edge and Office alot, now with new Edge still don't supporting it and likely will never will due to this news, Windows Timeline now has been largely useless unless you install 3rd-party Extension for Edge. Even on Office, when I click an Activity on the Timeline, it opens online version of Office, even though I have Office 365 desktop suite installed on my machine. What gives? Thus the experience of Windows Timeline is broken. But with great wisdom of fixing it, this feature is getting killed due to poor support from developers and users. Pssst.... because its broken and Microsoft don't even support it either.
  • I also called parts of it frustrating, let's not get ahead of ourselves. I like the idea, and was excited to see it evolve and improve. Thing is, it didn't evolve and improve. It showed promise, and I was excited to see what would come of it. Unfortunately, nothing came of it. I also really liked Windows 10's tablet mode when it first launched. I absolutely do not like tablet mode today. I liked it at first because it showed promise, a sign of things to come. But nothing else came. Tablet Mode was a good start. but a good start only lasts so long. Timeline was a good start, but without any improvements, it's slowly become less favorable over time. If I like something when it launches, that doesn't mean I'll like it the same in 2 years time if it hasn't gotten any updates. Things need to constantly evolve and improve, not remain stagnant. So that's why my views on Timeline are they way they are today, and not how they were two years ago. I still really like the idea of Timeline, and would prefer to see it move into the Start menu. I don't want it to go away, I want to see it evolve. Hope that clears things up for you :)
  • I see MS do new tings, then remove them again because of low usage. But, how do the expect users to start using these features when nobody knows about them? MS fails here every time, ppl never know what they are up to.
  • I found Timeline is useful for searching through browser history. It's not a task you'd do every day, but that function is (when needed) invaluable.
  • Used the time line sync with MS launcher all the time, though had to install the chrome extension into new Edge to get Web pages to show. In fact MS launcher has been getting progressively worse over the last few releases with features like continue on pc and favourite dialer contacts disappearing.
  • I never used Timeline on my computer, a lot of software I use do not support and I feel I do not need it, so I disabled it. As for it being on the Ms launcher, while I do not use the launcher, would it really be any use on that?
  • I think it is a real shame this feature goes the way of the dodo's. That said, I do hope something like this will be implentented into Windows Search, which is an absolute wasteland at the moment (at least for me). Maybe I am using it wrong? But why is my Office app history, Edge history and so on, not sync'ing inside Search? Why remove a feature first without serving up a hgood alternative? Why can't I pin Search to my desktop?
    Oh MS, get this stuff sorted. Windows can be so much more productive.
  • Timeline never really worked for me on my Galaxy A50 so after reading this article, I disabled it ( in advance :-).
  • I never used it because it was just a wasteland of websites I visited. And I agree with Microsoft, it's much easier to open a Word doc from the recents list than to wade through the Timeline.
  • Exactly. Timeline would be great if users can select file types and locations. You put it perfectly to call it a "wasteland of websites" visited.
  • "Timeline was a neat idea that was executed poorly." This sounds like Microsoft's unofficial tagline. "Neat ideas, executed poorly" Microsoft's MO seems to be:
    1. Show really cool feature.
    2. Release half baked version and watch usage.
    3. Usage is low, stop development.
    4. Abandon full development of cool idea because of lack of usage of the "soft opening." They should develop ideas out fully, then release. The idea of releasing half baked stuff to see if it sticks to the wall before putting the full effort needed to make it great seems to be a terrible cultural problem at Microsoft.
  • "Perhaps we'll see Timeline morph into something else on Windows 10 in the future, or maybe Microsoft will just leave it to stagnate further like they have for many other Windows 10 features ..." Maybe all W10 icons will become blank white squares. Maybe WaaS has become self-aware. Maybe Satya Nadella is a vampire. Speculating aimlessly is fun!
  • Timeline reminded me of a similar feature in macOS Time Machine. To which I also didn't use frequently. The difference? macOS continues to keep it and yes it had issues as well. Microsoft just needs to commit.
  • Too buggy on phones. Just like sticky notes are unusable on my duo. Disabled time-line on most of my PCs too.
  • I never used it. Doesn't impact my work flow on Windows. Having said that I do feel very sorry for those who do find value. It's one of those darker pages in Microsft services I wish they didn't have and would have learnt from. I'm sure this is already somewhere on the feedback hub. It also reminds me of the fragility of Windows as a whole. You never know what will be deprecated. And recent history has already has so many deprecations on Windows.
    Windows could use some fit and finish for once instead of this constant change with half baked features of an official product.