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Microsoft Tweaks Windows Explorer for Windows 8

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 95 comments

Windows 8 will bring with it a host of new improvements, one of which is a redesigned Windows Explorer.

Windows 8 Explorer

For over 99 percent of Windows users, Explorer is the tool used to manage files, be it moving, deleting, renaming, or even finding and opening. In Windows 8, Microsoft is giving Explorer the Ribbon UI interface that's slowly pervading the company's software offerings.

While realizing that the Ribbon UI isn't a popular design choice by its users, Microsoft program manager Alex Simons explained in a blog post why it was the best way to go for Windows 8. Here are some of his points in rapid fire form:

We set out to accomplish three main goals with this new version of Explorer.

  1. Optimize Explorer for file management tasks. Return Explorer to its roots as an efficient file manager and expose some hidden gems, those file management commands already in Explorer that many customers might not even know exist.
  2. Create a streamlined command experience. Put the most used commands in the most prominent parts of the UI so they are easy to find, in places that make sense and are reliable. Organize the commands in predictable places and logical groupings according to context, and present relevant information right where you need it.
  3. Respect Explorer’s heritage. Maintain the power and richness of Explorer and bring back the most relevant and requested features from the Windows XP era when the current architecture and security model of Windows permits.

 

We evaluated several different UI command affordances including expanded versions of the Vista/Windows 7 command bar, Windows 95/Windows XP style toolbars and menus, several entirely new UI approaches, and the Office style ribbon. Of these, the ribbon approach offered benefits in line with our goals:

  • Provides the ability to put the most important commands in very prominent, front and center locations.
  • Makes it easy to find commands predictably and reliably. Every important file management command could be given a home in the ribbon, and customers would always know where to look for them.
  • Exposes a large set of commands (~200) in one easy and consistent experience and organizes commands into scenario-focused groups without the use of nested menus, popups, dialogs, and right-click menus.
  • Aids command identification with support for grouping, a variety of button sizes and icons, and aids deeper investigation with live previews and expanded tooltips.
  • Takes a similar approach to Office, Microsoft Paint, and Windows Live Essentials, which means that many of our customers will be familiar with the model and not have a lot to learn.
  • Provides a consistent, reliable UI that doesn’t degrade over time like traditional toolbar and menu-based user interfaces do. See Jensen’s earlier blog on this topic from the development of the ribbon.

 

We knew that using a ribbon for Explorer would likely be met with skepticism by a set of power-users (like me), but there are clear benefits in ways that the ribbon:

  • Exposes hidden features that they already use but which require third party add-ons to use in the Explorer UI today.
  • Provides keyboard shortcuts for every command in the ribbon, something many people have been asking for.
  • Provides UI customization with the quick access toolbar, taking us back to a customization level that is basically equivalent to Windows XP.

What do you think of the Windows 8 Explorer changes? Current Windows 7 users may not like it; but if there's one thing to love, it's more files displayed in a same-sized window. That's progress for you.

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Top Comments
  • 25 Hide
    Randomacts , September 6, 2011 10:57 AM
    I hope that can be turned off.
  • 23 Hide
    shuffman37 , September 6, 2011 10:35 AM
    I hate ribbon IU, the right click context menu has EVERYTHING without moving the mouse to the top of the screen for every step. How about a tabbed browser? Can't they copy Nautilus or Xbrowser and be happy?

    I like Windows 7 because its pretty minimal, don't start wasting screen area with garbage that can't be removed. If I'm browsing through 1000's of pics I want them to cover the as much screen area as possible, not the toolbars at the top!
  • 21 Hide
    cryogenic , September 6, 2011 11:16 AM
    RandomactsI hope that can be turned off.

    It can be collapsed:
Other Comments
  • 11 Hide
    back_by_demand , September 6, 2011 10:23 AM
    Before anyone says "I hate ribbon", simple answer is DONT USE IT, whilst you are at it go back to using DOS.
  • 23 Hide
    shuffman37 , September 6, 2011 10:35 AM
    I hate ribbon IU, the right click context menu has EVERYTHING without moving the mouse to the top of the screen for every step. How about a tabbed browser? Can't they copy Nautilus or Xbrowser and be happy?

    I like Windows 7 because its pretty minimal, don't start wasting screen area with garbage that can't be removed. If I'm browsing through 1000's of pics I want them to cover the as much screen area as possible, not the toolbars at the top!
  • 15 Hide
    ravewulf , September 6, 2011 10:38 AM
    Great, the space-waster.

    I would like to point out that the W7 Explorer Window in the comparison screen shot is in "Libraries" mode with the "Documents Library" heading and what seems to be the large Details Pane/meta-info bar at the bottom. The "normal" folders mode and medium to small Details Pane would hold a lot more files than the W8 Explorer Window.

    Edit:
    I'd like to add that the only commands on the Command Bar that I use frequently are "New Folder" and the "Views" button. I put the "Move to" and "Copy to" commands on the right-click menu so nearly everything I need is easy to get to from the right-click menu
  • 3 Hide
    alexei1 , September 6, 2011 10:54 AM
    I really like the idea of the ribbon at Windows 8 (from what I see at the screenshot).
  • 25 Hide
    Randomacts , September 6, 2011 10:57 AM
    I hope that can be turned off.
  • 6 Hide
    Mystre316 , September 6, 2011 10:59 AM
    Windows 7 that looks like my Microsoft Word/Excel/Powerpoint/Access. Epic win(dows 8)
  • 21 Hide
    cryogenic , September 6, 2011 11:16 AM
    RandomactsI hope that can be turned off.

    It can be collapsed:
  • 3 Hide
    Archean , September 6, 2011 11:16 AM
    back_by_demandBefore anyone says "I hate ribbon", simple answer is DONT USE IT, whilst you are at it go back to using DOS.


    Absolutely!

    I think ribbon isn't a bad idea at all, just one which take getting used to, and once you are there everything is pretty much routine/easy.
  • -6 Hide
    plasmastorm , September 6, 2011 11:20 AM
    " we wanted users to feel like the commands were in a reliable place and easy to access"

    So they changed the whole damn layout, Derpedy derpa derpa derp....
  • 15 Hide
    stridernz , September 6, 2011 11:35 AM
    Of course it can be minimised... Isn't anyone using a newish version of Office... Who even needs right click context menu's when you can use shortcut keys for every one of the explorer commands in Windows 8..
    I like it!!
  • 6 Hide
    nightbreed , September 6, 2011 11:36 AM
    Looks nice, but who would select a file and then go to the ribbon and copy(or whatever) it?
  • 6 Hide
    Darkerson , September 6, 2011 11:41 AM
    Ill be willing to give it a shot.
  • 6 Hide
    darkxuy , September 6, 2011 12:39 PM
    "Provides keyboard shortcuts for every command in the ribbon, something many people have been asking for."

    this.
  • 1 Hide
    tolham , September 6, 2011 12:41 PM
    where's the goddman tabbed browsing?
  • 2 Hide
    izmanq , September 6, 2011 12:48 PM
    I don't see anything useful for me in the video :| i never use the tool bar to copy and paste for example, i rather use shortcuts or use right click.

    And for path, i believe in winxp explorer all i have to do is just copy from the textbox under the title menu, no need to do those steps in the video :|

    and for the ribbon, i used ms office in the past, but since they use the ribbon thing, i really got confuse with ms office, so i move to libre office now. they said the ribbon thing is more intuitive, i tried use them for sometime, to me it's suck.

    hell, now they want to put it in the explorer, they really want me to stop using microsoft product :|

    I wish software and hardware makers provide better support for linux (i get used to Ubuntu), so i can really leave microsoft products completely.

  • 9 Hide
    ojas , September 6, 2011 12:49 PM
    I have a funny feeling this is going to be a very successful OS, especially amongst people who're not very tech-savvy. There will still be people who'll say OS X is a "different experience" and BS like that, but i think Win 8 will be a Lion-tamer. 7's already taken care of the Snow Leopard ;) 

    I personally like a non-ribbon explorer (like in Win 7). Otherwise the rest of the stuff is good.
  • -3 Hide
    alidan , September 6, 2011 12:51 PM
    im useing xp, now lets go to my documents, on a 1920x1200 monitor, im able to see 59 and 1/2 files in detailed view, and im able to see the folder size of folders. if i want ANYTHING advanced, i use either the drop down menus on top, or right click.

    heres hoping its completely removable. that being said, was there any need to change it from xp? i mean seriously, ANY NEED?
  • 5 Hide
    amk-aka-Phantom , September 6, 2011 1:02 PM
    The only thing that pisses me off more and more in Windows is its increasing focus on "sharing" and such. I don't want to "share" anything with anybody, damn it! Remove that wretched word and I'll be fine.

    Oh yeah, and I hope I can get rid of tabbed browsing and bring back the top menu (File/View/Edit/Tools/etc) instead of these big buttons. Seriously, this looks like Office 2007... I don't like this. The Ribbon can go and rm -rf itself...

    The problem with ALL modern software products is that they try to add something new and unwanted before there's any kind of stability achieved. Ubuntu became a very stable OS at 10.10, then they threw in Unity and plymouth in 11.04 and look, it's full of bugs AGAIN. Same here; what was wrong with Win7 looks? Why can't they just freakin' STOP for once?!

    If at all, MS should finally port Compiz to Windows... I just discovered even more kick-ass effects there, and Win7 has nothing similar to offer, a shame. Why can't MS get their heads out of their a$$es and make a solid, stable OS that will destroy all opponents once and for all? Win7 was great, now improve it instead of introducing new flashy garbage! Improve loading times or something...
  • 7 Hide
    Netherscourge , September 6, 2011 1:04 PM
    Chrome gets it. Keep the menu stuff small, but convenient. Let the main browser window be the center of attention.

    Mozilla and Microsoft just don't seem to get it. Most people don't want almost a 5th of their browser junked up with buttons and menus and other annoying things.

    Thank JEBUS for Chrome!
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