Microsoft's Popular 90s Era PowerToys Utilities To Make A Triumphant Return To Windows 10

Few things rarely go out of style for good. The best stuff has a way of coming back into view, like vinyl. This also applies to computers, apparently. No, the floppy disk is not making a glorious comeback, but something that dates all the way back to Windows 95 is—it's called PowerToys, and it is being rebooted for the modern era.

PowerToys was a set of freely available utilities designed for power users, which Microsoft first developed for Windows 95, and later Windows XP. it included over a dozen tools. One of the more widely used among them was TweakUI. This made it easy for users to dig deeper into Windows and play with its fine grain controls without having to manually alter the system registry.

Some of the features have become permanent fixtures of Windows, while others are being implemented in a new version of PowerToys for Windows 10.

"PowerToys is a set of utilities for power users to tune and streamline their Windows experience for greater productivity. Inspired by the Windows 95 era PowerToys project, this reboot provides power users with ways to squeeze more efficiency out of the Windows 10 shell and customize it for individual workflows," Microsoft states on GitHub.

There are two that Microsoft is working on initially. The first is a "maximize to new desktop widget," or MTND. This consists of a pop-up button that shows up when a user hovers the mouse cursor over the maximize/restore button. Clicking it creates a new desktop, and sends the app to that desktop, fully maximized.


The second is a "Windows key shortcut guide." It's designed so that when a user holds down the Windows key for more than one second, available shortcuts appear, as shown in the screenshot above.

Microsoft is considering a bunch of other functions for inclusion into the PowerToys reboot. They include the following:
  1. Full window manager including specific layouts for docking and undocking laptops
  2. Keyboard shortcut manager
  3. Win+R replacement
  4. Better alt+tab including browser tab integration and search for running apps
  5. Battery tracker
  6. Batch file re-namer
  7. Quick resolution swaps in taskbar
  8. Mouse events without focus
  9. Cmd (or PS or Bash) from here
  10. Contents menu file browsing
How many of them make the final cut remains to be seen, and will depend in part on user feedback. "Please use issues and +1's to guide the project to suggest new ideas and help us prioritize the list," Microsoft says.

Microsoft intends to release the first preview of PowerToys (along with corresponding source code) sometime this summer.