Windows Explorer to Feature Ribbon UI in Windows 8

Microsoft has introduced two types of UIs that have been praised very much. Metro UI, which it is using on various websites and software and the Ribbon UI, which was first introduced in MS Office 2007 and then made its way in various applications of Windows 7 like Paint, Wordpad etc.

Now it looks like both of these are going to be integral part of Windows 8. First we got a glimpse of Windows 8 with an overdose of Metro UI. Now yesterday Microsoft, in a blog post on the building Windows 8 blog, showcased Windows Explorer sporting the Ribbon UI.

The blog post says:

We set out to accomplish three main goals with this new version of Explorer.

  1. Optimize Explorer for file management tasks. Return Explorer to its roots as an efficient file manager and expose some hidden gems, those file management commands already in Explorer that many customers might not even know exist.
  2. Create a streamlined command experience. Put the most used commands in the most prominent parts of the UI so they are easy to find, in places that make sense and are reliable. Organize the commands in predictable places and logical groupings according to context, and present relevant information right where you need it.
  3. Respect Explorer’s heritage. Maintain the power and richness of Explorer and bring back the most relevant and requested features from the Windows XP era when the current architecture and security model of Windows permits.

We evaluated several different UI command affordances including expanded versions of the Vista/Windows 7 command bar, Windows 95/Windows XP style toolbars and menus, several entirely new UI approaches, and the Office style ribbon. Of these, the ribbon approach offered benefits in line with our goals…

And so Windows explorer now has the Ribbon UI. Here’s a screenshot of what Windows Explorer will look like in Windows 8:

Windows Explorer Ribbon UI in Windows 8

The first thing I noticed in this screenshot is that the famous UP button is back. Thank god!

If this screenshot has made you curious and you want to know more about the Ribbon, here are some more screenshots:

Home Tab of Explorer in Windows 8

The home tab contains the most used commands like copy, paste, delete, rename, New folder etc.

Share Tab of Explorer in Windows 8

The Share tab contains common sharing options like Zip, Email etc. It also enables sharing on the local network

View Tab of Explorer in Windows 8

The view tab is what I disagree with. It’s a very good thing putting all viewing options under one tab, but I would say, at least for me, switching through layouts is one of the most used commands and should have been under the home tab. However, this option has been placed in the status bar and hence there is no reason to complain. Of course the way I prefer is mostly Ctrl+Scroll.

Search Tab of Explorer in Windows 8

It also claims to have an improved search feature. This tab is what I like the most. The search features were not very well designed and took some time to filter. This layout will make it easier to find file. If you use Windows Search, that is!

Just like in MS Office, there is also a quick access toolbar on the Title bar which is of course customizable. You can also place this below the ribbon for quicker access. I suppose I would be minimizing the ribbon and using this only because I always use keyboard shortcuts for copy, paste, new folder (Ctrl+Shift+N, if are unaware) etc.

A few days back, the blog also showed improved file handling. Explorer will now be able to handle multiple copy paste operations from a single dialog. And finally there will be a pause button.

Multiple copy paste dialog in Windows 8

The conflict resolution dialog is also being improved. Honestly, the Windows 7 dialog is very confusing with that much of text and definitely needed an improvement.

Copy paste conflicy resolution dialog in Windows 8

You just need to check the file you want to keep. If you check the original, file will not be copied; if you check the one you are copying, file will be replaced; if you check both, copied file will be renamed.

However, as much as Microsoft thinks they are completely revolutionising the user experience in Windows 8, I’m not fully satisfied. After all this time, I had at least expected a tabbed interface if not a multi pane approach. I have said earlier and I will say it again, just because the ribbon is good looking, it doesn’t become the answer to every problem. The ribbon is only suited to apps which have a lots of commands and Explorer definitely isn’t one of them. Even though there are talks about the start screen changing everything, we have already seen that the start menu will still be there and that’s what most people will be using. So I still expect to see more radical improvements. Sorry Microsoft, I’m not a very big fan of the Ribbon.

You can follow the links below to the complete post

Improvements in Windows Explorer

Improving our file management basics: copy, move, rename, and delete


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