Microsoft shows off Windows 8's new Ribbon Explorer Interface

If you think about it, Windows’s file explorer view has not changed much in the last decade – sure, the File, Edit, View menu has been done away with in Windows 7, but the user is still overly reliant on the right click mouse command. But with all the focus on touch based interfaces, the right click command needs to start taking a backseat in future Windows releases. Microsoft is focussing a lot on making Windows 8 a lot more touch friendly, and it is not all about their Metro based interface.
Going forward, all Windows Explorer windows will carry a Ribbon bar with the most popular file handling commands placed in the tabs we have gotten used to in Microsoft Office. Microsoft quite obviously states that drop down menus do not work well in touch environments, yet there is still quite a few commands in the Ribbon bar that relies on drop-downs. What gives Microsoft? But if you are not going to use Windows 8 on a touch device (we first have to wait to see a Beta which shows off the touch aspects more), you can hide the Ribbon bar.

Microsoft also shows off a few new ways in which traditionally difficult tasks are made a lot easier on Windows 8.One example I really like is the Share Tab which makes it very easy to quickly create Zip archives to send away, but most significantly, has a much better interface to quickly share files on your Homegroup or Domain. Often used people you share to are shown as well:

The Search tools are also a bit smarter – users are not forced to use text searches, and can quickly do context based searches like “Documents created in the last week” using simple buttons, and recent searches can be easily found as well:

Now you might be thinking that the Ribbon bar does not give a lot of added features to power users who anyway use keyboard commands to get work done – and that might be true. But one feature I especially like is that you can of course add your own favourite commands to the title bar, including a new “run as admininstrator in command prompt” button. So then it is as easy as clicking a file (say some batch job), then clicking your newly created button. Then watch the actual process in the command prompt box. Great.

All in all these changes look very good, but some might argue that it needlessly complicates the interface, especially if you compare it with other operating systems out right now. My opinion is that old hands at Windows will be very comfortable with these changes, but my interest is still in the touch based Metro interface for slates / tablets. That is where the innovation lies right now, and that is where Microsoft needs to impress us…
Here is hoping we will see more of this at Tech Ed Africa. Bandwidth Blog will be there…

  1. To be honest here. I think it sucks. They have the right intentions by making sure the most used commands are on the ribbon, but the visual design is just needlessly cluttered.
    The small icons such as “cut” and “new item” I would move to their own dropdown boxes. All the big icons should be next to each other in a row. Then a simple dropbox under each category to reveal the rest of the functions such as “cut”.
    What do you think?

    1. Luckily this is all still a work in progress. My big issue is that all OS’s are moving towards simplicity – like in your Lion article. Then why is MS making the OS more busy?

      1. Especially considering the Windows 8 start screen (which looks sleak). It is like they have different designers for different sections without someone spearheading consistent design. Let’s hope it turns out okay!

        1. Yeah – and the Metro interface will require a big rethink from devs. I really wonder how it will be approached. Will an app have a Windows and Metro interface? Almost like “universal” apps in iOS?

    2. I didn’t like the clutter in the previous version of Windows and disliked it intensely in the MS Office of 2007 and 2010.  I spent all my life reading text  and now I have to go back to deciphering heiroglyphs. These funny little pictures just take up valuable space on my computer screen.  I wish I could jsut flush them down the drain.

  2. We don’t NEED another Eff-ing Windows! It’s just money making for them. Boycott it! 

    1. I agree with you.  If only MS could get it right once without the “improvements” it would be so nice.  I am so sick of MS and their “upgrades” which are worse than the last.

    2. You can always, like, not buy the new version…
      I ran quite happily on XP skipping the abomination that was Vista until Win7 came along which is actually quite good.
      I have to chuckle at all the Apple fanboys out there. Haven’t they realized that the mantle of “#1 Evil Corporate Empire” has been passed from Microsoft to Apple? They should be venting their vitriol against their army of patent lawyers, closed systems, propriety technologies, censorship and iTunes.

      1. I agree with you 100%. Apple has a totalitarian view of software. F#@k them. no flash, no access to your own file system and images / documents. Unable to attach files in a browser, etc. The only reason they are still alive is because they do make some pretty stylish hardware. Other than that Steve can go to hell.

          1. skattie, you are ill-informed….
            stick with windoze, you deserve each udder

      2. I’m not an apple fan by any stretch of the imagination (I tend to spend the bulk of my days elbows deep in Unix systems), but you have to give it to them, when the do it, they do it right. Yes, they are the kings of closed systems and proprietary tech, but it all just works; and works together – mac talks to itunes, itunes to iphone/ipod, iphone/ipod to apple tv, appl tv to mac etc etc etc…the only way they can get everything to ‘just work’ is by holding on to proprietary tech, closed systems and the like.
        The lads at MS on the other hand constantly bring out cr@p (and closed systems at that!) that just doesn’t work.  Windows 7 IS quite good, but only insofar as it’s quite good compared to XP and Vista.  It is still bloated, slow and desperately unstable compared to an ever growing number of alternatives.
        The excuse?  Well, Windows runs on all kinds of hardware from all kinds of providers and therefore can’t guarantee component compatibility.  Do me a favour!  How then is it that Linux, in its hundreds/thousands of guises is able to consistently run rings around Windows?
        Please quit slagging off the “Apple fanboys” everytime someone out there has a go at Windows.  Apple and MS are not in the same league, never have been and never will be.  It’s like comparing apples and beach-balls.
        Rather have a go at the “Linux fanboys” (to coin a phrase), although I suspect you’ll find yourself dealing with a whole different crowd!

        1. And why should anyone be having a go at the Linux fanboys? We keep to ourselves, and only convert the truly deserving into followers of our sacred network of operating systems.
          All hail Linux! May your X windows manager guide us, and may your kernel protect us from the evil of Microsoft. We also pray for the our lost brothers, followers of the heretical abomination that is OSX. By your light, return them to BSD, and make them pure once more. Amen.

          1. If for no other reason than to run in to a bit of intelligent debate and for the sake of comparing like for like… 😉

  3. bla bla bla…. Windows can go DIE a slow and painful death…. APPLE’s the way to go boyz!!!
    And BootCamp for those dedicated gamerz that need nothing more than Windows XP and DX11 🙂

      1. Def not better on the backend than Linux… But far superior than Apple OS systems. But then, Apple was not created to be a customisable system… It was designed for people who do single tasks and that’s all they are interested in doing… Shouldn’t really compare the two of them.

      2. What”s to catch up?  Never did understand the Win/Apple hate debate – I use both; just happens that Windows seems to crash more often, but I don’t hate it.. just live with it.

    1. Apple hardware looks cool but that’s where it ends. Like it or not, Windows is supreme even to backend tasks better than Linux. The only reason people rate Linux is because they hate Microsoft, nothing to do with the product.

  4. the only thing i can see that they have introduced is the UP ONE LEVEL.
    i always liked that in windows explorere, but they did away with it in vista and 7

    1. Up one level is there, it’s just two clicks this time – click the address in the address bar, then click the folder before.  Nice thing about that is you can go up three or more levels with two clicks.
      Funny how lazy we sound when you read that out loud lol.

      1. i know what you mean but the feature i liked was the up one level icon instead of using the address bar.
        agreed the address bar was great to go back a few levels at a time.

  5. Wow! Impressed with that! BUTTTTTTTTT When you sell MS Windows CD/DVD/BluRay, PLEASE reduce the prices because we already got WinVista and Win7, I know you copied from old windows to new windows and edit everything and then compiled before shipping them out! I disagree!

  6. windows 8 will obviously be crap! waiting on 9 for all the bugs to be sorted, but then again whats the use………

  7. I still wait for the day when Microsoft will re-establish the XP Package, I mean SP2 is the best to date!

  8. Massive delete, rename and properties buttons?? Nice one microsoft, if anything you should be designing your new OS’s for more computer literate people and not for grannies..? If I cant make that incredible waste of space disappear, i’m switching to an alternative to MS just on principle. On top of this any HCI person should realise that screens are getting wider, so use the bloody extra space there and dont make our viewing area even narrower! clowns..

  9. I appreciate the new features but lately these differences does not make a whole new OS viable. I mean it should be possible to add all these features in a 500-1000 MB service pack 2 for Windows 7. The only time it should be released as a completely new and independent OS is when the core programming changes.
    They also tend to do something to force you to upgrade to the new version. For example DX 10 and 11 not being available on XP forcing gamers to upgrade to Windows 7. For the retail price of a brand new Windows release one should expect more longevity to their product. I mean is there really a need for a brand new OS or just for a patch incorporating these touch screen features?

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