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Windows 8 to offer easier file management

The company is giving its basic file management a much-needed overhaul in Windows 8.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
3 min read

Ever find it frustrating trying to copy or move files in Windows? Then some long-overdue improvements in Windows 8 should be welcome news.

Admitting that file management or the "copy jobs" feature now in Windows can be confusing, Alex Simons, a program management director on Microsoft's Windows engineering team, yesterday revealed four enhancements destined to surface in Windows 8.

Contributing to the latest installment of Microsoft's ongoing "Building Windows 8" blog, Simons said that copying, moving, renaming, and deleting files are the most heavily used features in Windows Explorer, accounting for 50 percent of all file management tasks.

But studies done by Microsoft confirmed that parts of the Windows 7 copy experience can be "cluttered and confusing." This is especially true if you're are copying or moving files and folders with the same names or copying or moving multiple files one after the other.

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To offer a more user-friendly file management experience in Windows 8, Microsoft came up with three goals: 1) create a single place to manage and monitor all files being copied; 2) remove distractions and give people just the information they need; and 3) put people in more control of their copy operations.

As as result, Windows 8 users will see four new features in the upcoming operating system designed to simplify the chore of copying and moving files.

First, in past versions of Windows, a separate progress dialog box would pop up for each new file that you were copying or moving. This could sometimes result in dozens of different file copy boxes floating around the screen. Windows 8 consolidates the process into one dialog box for all files being copied or moved where you can more easily view and control each individual file.

Windows 8 will display a single dialog box even when copying multiple files.
Windows 8 will display a single dialog box even when copying multiple files. Microsoft

Second, users will be able to stop, pause, and resume each file being copied or moved and view the source or destination folder while the process is running.

Third, Microsoft's estimates on how long a file will take to copy or move have always been something of a joke, which Simons even admitted in his blog. We've all seen file copy messages that keep changing the estimate dramatically, jumping from something like 5 minutes to 1 hour and then to 15 minutes and then back to an hour.

Instead of guessing how long a file will take to copy, Windows 8 will offer a new graph detailing the data transfer speed, the transfer rate trend, and how much data is left to transfer. Though that sounds more complicated than a simple estimate, it promises to be more accurate.

Fourth, people can sometimes be confused by filename conflicts or collisions, which occur when the same filename exists in both the source and destination folders during a copy or move. For Windows 8, Microsoft has redesigned the box that pops up during a file collision, which Simons feels will be more efficient and easier to understand.

Windows 8 will present a clearer dialog  box in the event of duplicate filenames.
Windows 8 will present a clearer dialog box in the event of duplicate filenames. Microsoft

As one final tweak that should please a lot of people, Microsoft is doing away with some of the redundant and often annoying dialog boxes that appear when managing files, such as, "Are you sure you want to delete this file?" or "Are you sure you want to merge these folders?"

All of the new file management improvements add up to "building a significantly improved copy experience, one that is unified, concise, and clear, and which puts you in control of your experience," Simons added.