Microsoft wraps ribbon around Windows 8 Explorer interface

Think Windows 8 is all about tablet-centric tiles? Think again. The Building Windows 8 blog has an interesting post on changes Microsoft is making to Windows Explorer. The old look is out, and an Office-style ribbon is in. Before you get too worried, note that Microsoft has attempted to "respect Explorer's heritage" by bringing back some features from the Windows XP Explorer, including the "up" folder navigation button.

The post has quite a lot of information on how frequently various Explorer commands are used and whether those commands are invoked via the toolbar, hotkeys, or right-clicking. According to Microsoft, the new ribbon UI will put the most commonly used functions up front, while keeping the rest of Explorer's commands in "scenario-focused groups" that won't require users to drill down into multiple menus. As an added bonus, everything in the ribbon will be accessible via keyboard shortcuts. The ribbon can be minimized if you don't like it, and users will be able to configure a single-line Quick Access Toolbar to serve in its place.

Tabs feature heavily in the new Explorer interface, which has sections for sharing, viewing, and managing alongside a default "home" view. Microsoft has also optimized the UI for wide-screen displays, moving the details pane over to the right and getting rid of headers entirely. The end result, Redmond says, makes better use of available screen real estate. The ribbon purportedly works better with finger-based input than traditional nested menus, too. You didn't expect Microsoft to hype Windows 8 features without at least mentioning tablets, did you?

As an old-school Office user, I've never liked the suite's move to a ribbon interface. That said, I'm digging Microsoft's approach for Windows 8, if only for the keyboard shortcuts and Quick Access Toolbar. Thanks to TR reader Dave for the tip.

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