Windows 8 Explorer Adds Ribbon, Returns Up Button

One of the most common complaints about the Explorer interface in Windows 7 was that it dumped the ‘up’ button used to move up in the directory structure. The good news is that it’s returning in Windows 8. The perhaps more controversial news is that Microsoft will achieve that by using the often controversial Ribbon interface.

The Building Windows 8 blog offers a detailed look at how Explorer will be updated in Windows 8. It’s a lengthy post but well worth the read if you’re a regular Explorer user. The key changes that will be coming include:

  • Adding the Ribbon in order to make the most common commands more easily accessible. (Remarkably, of the 10 most commonly used features in Explorer, just two are visible in the current interface.) The three tabs on the Ribbon will be Home, Share and View (all seen above).
  • Showing the Details information for folders at the right rather than the bottom. That minimises the impact on vertical space of adding the ribbon and takes advantage of widescreen laptops, which are now the most common option.)
  • As in Office, incorporating a Quick Access Toolbar so you can add commonly used commands to the interface.
  • And as we’ve already mentioned, the Up button is being returned to the interface.

Those changes won’t necessarily address all the features which Explorer replacements can handle, but as we noted in a recent post about the Windows 8 copy experience, only a small percentage of Windows users actually install that kind of software (though I suspect the number is higher amongst Lifehacker readers). Third-party software developers will continue to be able to add options to right-click menus, but won’t be able to access the Ribbon interface.

Ribbon addition aside, the most interesting thing I learnt from that post was that the most popular way of accessing features in Explorer is via a right-click menu, followed by keyboard shortcuts. On the latter point, it’s also good to have it confirmed that existing shortcuts will continue to work in Windows 8, while there will be ribbon-based shortcuts for everything else. Ribbon shortcuts are a lot less effective than single-key shortcuts, but still good to have around if, like me, you’re a keyboard junkie.

What changes would you like to see in Explorer? Tell us in the comments.

Improvements in Windows Explorer [Building Windows 8]

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