A new leak suggests that Windows 11 will fundamentally change its appearance with a major overhaul of File Explorer, the core element of the operating system (where you deal with the nuts and bolts of folders and files). So could this help more people update (or adopt) Windows 11? We’ll get back to that question in a moment, but first, let’s look at the spill itself.
FireCube on Twitter, a developer and leaker, posted details of the alleged File Explorer redesign, complete with illustrative screenshots (as featured by Windows headquarters (opens in new tab)). Note that these grabbers are just mockups of what the UI might look like based on hidden code unearthed in recent preview builds of Windows 11 and as such are filled with placeholders (and are generally very crude) .
Reconstruction of the WIP File Explorer home page UI by Microsoft. It contains the upcoming “recommended” articles. Everything is clearly very WIP, which is why the Vive ID doesn’t work. Note: image is placeholder, text is placeholder except “Danya edited this”January 9, 2023
We were told that File Explorer will come with a home page and a details pane that will contain a bunch of additional information such as: B. Insights, Recommendations, Activities, Properties, Related Files, Conversations, and Sharing Status.
The latter tells you, for example, whether a document is shared and whether another user has recently edited the document (as shown in the provided grabs).
As Windows Central further points out, File Explorer’s overall design will also be modernized (to match the header, which has already received a modern design). Additionally, our sister site’s sources say that the revamped File Explorer aims to be more touchscreen-friendly, using larger hitboxes (areas that register clicks, or rather touches) and an overall simpler and cleaner interface.
Analysis: Please don’t bloat File Explorer…
This might just be some exploratory work to examine potential redesign elements, which of course never see the light of day. Just because there’s code hanging around in the background of a preview build doesn’t mean it’ll ever do anything. First off, we need to see how the redesign actually previews, and even then it’s entirely open to change or significant tweaking based on feedback.
In short, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, but it certainly makes sense that Microsoft would need to adapt File Explorer to the modern Windows 11 look, especially after the header has already changed, so we’re now left with some sort of hybrid of modern and traditional design – not a very satisfactory situation. (But of course not uncommon in Windows 11).
It seems that part of Microsoft’s goal here is to create a tighter connection between Windows 11 and Microsoft 365, with this example of the status of shared files – and updates when other users edit them – underscoring that.
This new design could have many advantages, the most obvious being the overall coherence and integration with the rest of Windows 11 in terms of modern looks and also in terms of productivity. This could provide users with a lot more information directly, and that’s something people really appreciate.
This apparent direction, however, harbors equally obvious dangers. First of all, the danger of all the whistles and bells mentioned above that make File Explorer become a source of information overload. Bloated control panels certainly aren’t what we need, but hopefully there will be options to disable features (this was true for the Start menu site recommendations, which were tested but ultimately discarded to single out a recent example).
Microsoft clearly needs to take steps to persuade people to adopt Windows 11, and as long as the company treads cautiously enough here, there’s no reason a brand new File Explorer couldn’t prove to be a useful boon and encouragement up front.
It’s a good bet that if the outlined plan goes ahead – or anything like that – we’ll see the results this year. File Explorer has already benefited from some significant changes, including a big one with the introduction of tabs (which work just like browser tabs) late last year.
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