Microsoft unveiled on Monday its new ribbon powered Windows Explorer interface.
Details on Microsoft’s ribbon use have been well documented over the past few months thanks to a variety of leaks. Microsoft plans to use the ribbon across the Windows Explorer user interface to make it easier for end users to complete a variety of tasks. There are over 200 commands in Explorer but Microsoft has found that the top 10 commands represent 81.8% of all usage. Microsoft program manager Alex Simons revealed Microsoft’s goals of the new Windows Explorer in a blog post on Monday.
Essentially, Microsoft wants to optimise explorer for file management tasks whilst creating a streamlined command experience and keeping the user interface and heritage of previous versions of Windows. “We evaluated several different UI command affordances including expanded versions of the Vista/Windows 7 command bar,” explained Simons. “The ribbon approach offered benefits in line with our goals,” he adds. Microsoft outlines the benefits of the ribbon interface:
“These strengths fit well with our three goals – the ribbon would allow us to create an optimized file manager where commands would have reliable, logical locations in a streamlined experience,” says Simons. Microsoft’s new Windows 8 ribbon interface includes a home tab that hones in on the main file management tasks, these include Copy, Paste, Delete, Rename, Cut, and Properties. These commands make up 84% of what users in Windows Explorer do.
Next up is the share tab. This is designed to let users quickly share files and folders by making it easy to email, zip, print and fax their data. Windows 8 users will also be able to quickly share files with other home group members of their network.
The view tab provides access to a number of options to customise the view inside Windows Explorer. “We’ve enabled one-click access for turning on/off the Navigation pane, Preview pane, and Details pane, a live preview gallery for the different icon display sizes, quick access to sorting and grouping by column, the ability to quickly add columns, plus easy access to three hidden features: show file name extensions, show hidden items, and hide selected items,” explains Simons.
Microsoft has also created a number of contextual tabs that activate themselves relative to the context of specific files and folders. Searching in Explorer will activate the new Search tab to provide a number of different ways to filter searches.
Microsoft also describes its work to ensure the new ribbon interface is power user friendly. “We also wanted to make sure we were giving our more sophisticated users a good experience as well,” says Simons. “One of the top requests from more advanced users is for more keyboard shortcuts,” he adds. Microsoft has made sure that all 200 commands in the ribbon now have keyboard shortcuts. Advanced users will also be able to customise the quick access toolbar to provide quick access to their favourite commands.
The final improvement is the return of the “Up” button in the explorer user interface. “This is far and away the most requested improvement to Explorer, and a great opportunity to bring back some of Windows Explorer’s heritage features,” explains Simons.
Microsoft also confirmed the “Windows Developer Preview” branding for its current Windows 8 builds. Simons reveals his desktop during a video (see below) and shows that the build in use is 8059.winmain.110729-1857. WinRumors previously revealed that the latest 80xx builds of Windows 8 are now named “Windows Developer Preview” in anticipation of a release at next months BUILD conference in Anaheim, California.
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