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Windows 8: Major overhaul for Explorer and native support for disc images

Written by Rich Fiscus (Google+) @ 30 Aug 2011 14:39 User comments (7)

Windows 8: Major overhaul for Explorer and native support for disc images Microsoft is upgrading Windows Explorer in Windows 8 by replacing traditional menus and toolbars with a ribbon interface.
The ribbon interface is the biggest of several changes intended to make Windows Explorer more efficient for common activities, which Microsoft research indicates are currently performed primarily from the context (right-click) menu or keyboard shortcuts.

Thanks to an incomplete selection of options, Windows Explorer's buttons and menus account for less than 15% of all user operations, including copying/moving, viewing properties, renaming, and creating/deleting.

Microsoft concentrated primarily on those common operations in designing the Windows Explorer ribbon's Home tab. The percentages listed for each button indicates how often the operation is expected to be performed.

Other tabs will feature view options...

Sharing options and Compression/Archiving capabilities...

Library settings...

... and Search options.

Another focus in Windows 8 is widescreen layout. This can be seen in the revamped Windows Explorer.

Items which take a significant amount of vertical space in Windows 7 are removed from above and below the list of files and folders and any information they may have conveyed has been added to the status bar at the bottom.

In part this addresses the additional space required by the ribbon, compared to the traditional menu and button toolbars. However, it's particularly important to appeal to widescreen users for whom vertical screen real estate is scarcer than horizontal.

And Windows Explorer will make some additional use of horizontal space for displaying information like image properties. They will occupy a new pane to the right of the traditional file and folder display.

Some new features are designed primarily for power users, including keyboard shortcuts for every command on the ribbon. Microsoft's data, collected from Windows users, indicated nearly a third of all operations performed in Windows Explorer involved the use of keyboard shortcuts.

If using the ribbon for those tasks isn't appealing, people who prefer keyboard control will still benefit from the expanded options.

The File menu will also include a feature which should appeal to power users. There will be an option to open a command prompt with elevated privileges.

Besides general streamlining, Microsoft's goal in the Explorer redesign is making it more tablet friendly.

Does it do that? Almost certainly. But the bigger question is how much more viable as a tablet OS does it make Windows 8? Ease of file management seems like a pretty minor selling point for a tablet.

It's not entirely clear a strategy of building a common interface for desktop/notebook and tablet users is even workable. Can they design an interface which is good enough for both groups without making either feel like you settled for just good enough?

A different, but related feature announced on the Windows 8 team blog today may be of a little more interest in the tablet world. Windows 8 will have the native ability to mount ISO disc images as virtual drives.

ISO files are commonly used for images of entire CDs or DVDs.

The VHD Virtual Hard Drive format will also be supported.

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7 user comments

130.8.2011 14:46

I'm lovin it. So I wont need Magic Iso to mount my games anymore! :D


230.8.2011 15:13

I for one welcome the new changes. Windows has needed an overhaul/update to its interface for years now in my opinion. Time will tell how practical its execution is though.

330.8.2011 16:10

Fargin' HATE the 'ribbon interfaces' they started w/ Office 2007. Maybe that's why Bill Gates resigned...he hated it too. :-) I only care that they finally get Explorer to quit unexpectedly crashing.

430.8.2011 16:54

I hate the ribbon interfaces also. Ever since this so called "upgrade" i have struggled to figure out how to do simple shit in Office products. So much MEH in Windows.

530.8.2011 19:40

Ok, its official: Windows 8 is going to suck bad. What a horrible idea. It's painful enough to use this in Office (thats why I still use 2003 on my home machine) now in Explorer too? Wow. Fortunately there's to help us out. I use that in 7, hopefully they'll make a version for 8 too.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 30 Aug 2011 @ 19:40

630.8.2011 20:32

even if you tie ribbons on a hog, its till just a hog.

besides this isn't new news, i remember reading an article from AD about ribbons in the leaked alpha build few months ago.

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731.8.2011 0:48

For me this is the first bit of good news I have seen on windows 8. I definitely like the built in ISO support.

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