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Microsoft teases design overhaul of major Windows 11 app

Microsoft teased a design overhaul that is coming to the Windows 11 File Explorer app in a future update at its Build developer conference this week.

The new File Explorer design is based on WinUI 3 and will modernize the app’s folders, sidebar, address bar, and search bar to be more in tune with the overall Windows 11 style. This will bring to File Explorer a look and feel with more rounded and blurred designs, as well as mouse and touch optimizations, Windows Central noted.

Today, we announce new AI experiences and tools for #Windows11 to empower developers. Pumped to introduce you to Windows Copilot and Dev Home. #MSBuild

— Panos Panay (@panos_panay) May 23, 2023

Microsoft initially made small updates to File Explorer in Windows 11 and continually so in 2022, adding such features as tabs. Still, the legacy design of the app remained from years ago. The updated app is featured in a reel alongside functionalities for Microsoft’s Copilot app, in which you can see the notable differences in the File Explorer design, such as the action buttons being located below the address bar.

The brand is also said to be working on a Gallery feature that will get the same update to the WinUI 3 modern design as File Explorer.

Windows Insiders are currently testing other app updates, such as pane view, but not the updated File Explorer design. This is a feature that connects to Microsoft 365 and “shows recent activity on shared files, and even provides contextual information like where the file came from,” such as email or chat, according to Windows Central.

Since the File Explorer design update was inadvertently shown, users might have to wait a little longer for Insider testing and a general rollout.

Still, this update is sure to excite Windows enthusiasts who have long desired a new look for the File Explorer app. Many expected to have to wait until Windows 12 to see a real change. One such Microsoft fan earlier this month showcased his own concept of the upcoming Windows 12 system with a redesigned File Explorer featuring unique functions to match the updated look.

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Fionna Agomuoh
Fionna Agomuoh is a technology journalist with over a decade of experience writing about various consumer electronics topics…
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