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Is Microsoft giving the Windows file explorer a makeover?

file explorer makeover quick access
Michael Crider/Digital Trends
For all of the changes to Windows over the years, just a few constants have remained. The control panel is largely the same, as is the command prompt, thanks to the DOS wiring underneath. Even the unassuming Notepad, first introduced in Windows 1.0, wouldn’t be unfamiliar to a user from that time period. Among them is the file explorer, a helpful utility with steadfast shortcuts, and a layout that’s only been incrementally changed over the years. But, as it turns out, Microsoft is planning to trade in the file explorer we’ve come to know and love for a more modern version.

It’s still not clear when it will launch, or what it will look like, but Peter Skillman, general manager of core user experience for Windows desktop, tablet, and phone, noted on Twitter that the remodel was in the works.

@HUGEMSFAN Yes we are working on a total update of file explorer! Can't articulate schedule yet. You are right.

— peter skillman (@peterskillman) March 18, 2016

But Skillman didn’t stop there. He also began chatting with Twitter users about what features they’d like to see from a revamped file explorer, and even responded to a few.

One of the first replies requested the addition of tabs, like those found in modern Web browsers. Skillman was quick to respond to the suggestion that tabs might be coming to Windows in a more meaningful way than just the file explorer.

@xX_LeVvE_Xx @Henrique9956 @HUGEMSFAN Super rich topic. Tabs have a potential to drive a task based OS. More on this topic in the future.

— peter skillman (@peterskillman) March 20, 2016

His move towards the more general idea of a task-based OS indicates Microsoft, or at least Skillman, is willing to think more broadly about changing Windows 10’s workflow fundamentally. That might look like windows where tabs can be different applications, or multiple desktops like those found on Mac OS X and Linux.

Skillman also took the time to address concerns about the Universal Windows Platform. He suggested that the new file explorer would likely be built on the platform in order to enable advanced features like proper DPI scaling and compatibility across many devices.

There’s a lot of other work to be done on Windows 10 still, and a complete overhaul of file explorer probably isn’t at the top of that list. Although it might upset users who are used to the old file explorer, it’s at least refreshing to see that Microsoft is willing to rethink the fundamentals, which could pay off in the long run.

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Brad Bourque
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Brad Bourque is a native Portlander, devout nerd, and craft beer enthusiast. He studied creative writing at Willamette…
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