We already know that Microsoft is working on improving the file management capabilities of the Windows 8 operating system. Back when we published the story we suspected that Microsoft would improve other core areas of the operating system as well. Today, Alex Simons posted a large, and I mean very very large, article on the Building Windows 8 blog that demonstrates how the new Windows Explorer will look like in Windows 8.
Microsoft engineers basically took a look at how Windows Explorer is used under Windows 7 to come up with a streamlined version of the program that will improve the workflow for the majority of users. In particular, the goals where the optimize the program for file management tasks, to create a streamlined command experience and to respect Explorer’s heritage.
After evaluating several user interface concepts, Microsoft made the decision to go with a ribbon style UI that many Windows users are already familiar with. The interface is not without criticism though, and it will be interesting to see how users react to the new layout of Windows Explorer. Lets take a look at one of the screenshots that Alex posted in the announcement.
You see the ribbon interface at the top. It is only natural that the interface takes up more screen estate with the possibility to minimize it with a click on the minimize button.
The most common commands are displayed as buttons in the interface, from copying and pasting information and files to deleting and renaming them. Microsoft has created a screenshot that demonstrates how often select commands are used in Windows Explorer.
Paste is the most used command with 19% of all activities in Windows Explorer followed by Copy and Properties with 11% each, Delete with 10% and Rename with 8%.
The tabbed design means on the other hand that some elements are only accessible after switching tabs.
The share tab lists sharing options that include zipping, emailing or printing files.
The View tab lists all common view modes settings, for instance to hide or display the preview pane, change the file listing mode or hide or display columns in the listing.
Some of those features are not as easily accessible anymore as before, which includes the ability to change the view mode of a folder.
Depending on the folder, other tabs may be displayed. This includes a Library Tools, Picture Tools or Disk Tools tab. It will be interesting to see how users get along with the Disk Tools tab for instance when they open computer, as it allows them to format, cleanup or optimize a drive.
Windows Explorer under Windows 8 displays more visible files and folders than Explorer on Windows 7. This is mainly due to the minimalistic status bar. Microsoft has furthermore changed the font to a more readable one judging from the screenshots.
Here is a video that announces the new Windows Explorer.
Even better, power users get their way as well. They can minimize the ribbon ui if they want to save up space, use one of the more than 200 keyboard shortcuts for nearly every function of the file management software and customize a quick access toolbar with buttons that they want to access.
You can read the whole announcement over at the Building Windows 8 blog.