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Microsoft details Explorer layout for Windows 8

The software giant discusses changes to the Explorer interface, which Windows 8 users will see, and lessons learned from previous versions.

Christopher MacManus
Crave contributor Christopher MacManus regularly spends his time exploring the latest in science, gaming, and geek culture -- aiming to provide a fun and informative look at some of the most marvelous subjects from around the world.
Christopher MacManus
2 min read

Windows 8 sports an upgraded file management area with an added ribbon interface. Microsoft

Windows 8 will usher in yet another revision to the file management system used by millions of people.

Some of the top commands used in Windows Explorer. Click to enlarge. Microsoft

A blog post today by Microsoft Director of Program Management Alex Simons details at great length the future of the new Explorer interface, and lessons learned from previous versions.

One fascinating aspect brought up from Microsoft collecting hundreds of millions of anonymous usage reports (from Windows users) is that despite having over 200 commands in Explorer, "the top 10 commands represent 81.8% of total usage" (such as paste, properties, copy, and delete). Many commands go unused.

Microsoft found that the context menu from right-clicking an object is usually the main method of entering commands at 54.5 percent, with keyboard shortcuts coming in second at 32.2 percent.

It was found that the command bar--the most visible feature of Vista and 7's Explorer menu--contains two of the top 10 commands used overall in Explorer, and was only used a measly 10.9 percent during file management sessions. Therein lies the opportunity for change, Simons said.

The new share menu in Windows 8 Microsoft

The ribbon interface, first introduced with Microsoft Office, aims to change several inefficiencies present in the current version of Explorer. With Windows 8, Microsoft hopes the ribbon will transform file management by making the most-used commands more prominent in the user interface, while displaying more helpful commands with sensible grouping (such as File, Home, Share, View, and Manage menus). The new Explorer interface also has live previews for files, expanded tool tips, and keyboard shortcuts for every command in the ribbon to satisfy power users.

Windows 7 vs. Windows 8 Explorer interface Microsoft

The Up button is back. Microsoft

Some of you may groan at the addition of the ribbon user interface to Explorer, perhaps fearing less real estate for the actual files themselves. Well, Microsoft has studied the most popular resolutions used in Windows and is keeping all users in mind, especially those with widescreens. The details panel in Windows 8 uses less space than Windows 7, which enables several more files to be visible. The popular "Up" button of yesteryear is also back for quicker directory navigation.

Thankfully, if the ribbon is too large for your liking, the new quick access toolbar allows you to customize buttons and has an option for smaller icons.

To learn more, watch this video posted by Alex Simons.