Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 3rd Apr 2011 11:06 UTC, submitted by Debjit
Windows Yes, the Windows 8 rumour mill is really spinning up now. This time around though, they're not really rumours, since the information is coming from Rafael Rivera and Paul Thurrott, long-time Microsoft enthusiasts with loads of insider access. They've got a bunch of screenshots showing a work in progress of... A ribbon in Explorer. And yes, it looks just as bad as it sounds.
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Give me back my XPlorer
by Moochman on Sun 3rd Apr 2011 13:59 UTC
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I must take issue with your opinion that the Explorer in Windows 7 is an improvement over that of Windows XP. On the contrary, it has become a bloated, unnavigable mess that just so happens to have a few nice features (favorites, previews, thumbnails). Sure, Explorer in XP wasn't as pretty as in 7, and it certainly had its faults, but by and large (when you turned off the "Simple folder view" and turned on the status bar) it was a pleasure to use. Of course I never realized how nice it was until I moved to Windows Vista/7....

A few examples of what is still broken:

-When I have a folder selected on the left-hand side and I try to right-click a file on the right-hand side, it shows me the context menu for the left-hand-side folder--while visually for all intents and purposes looking as if I have selected the right-hand-side file. This leads to lovely scenarios born of this confusion, for instance if I try to delete I suddenly realize I am deleting the whole "C:" drive!

-The default settings are all wrong. The folders in the folder pane (left side) are all collapsed by default and when you navigate through folders on the right-side, your current place in the hierarchy is not reflected in the folder pane on the left side. This is fixable by changing a couple of little-known settings within Folder Options (see here:)

but even then, it ceases to work when navigating hidden folders (for instance anything within the C:\Users\username\AppData folder). The folder navigation pane used to "just work", but with Vista/7, Microsoft messed it up.

-The old menu bar and status bar are still available, and contain features that overlap with the "new" UI, so enabling them just duplicates functionality while taking up screen real estate. The menus still offer a more comprehensive selection of options, though, and the old status bar actually takes up a lot less real estate than the new one, but it's completely unskinned and fugly. Shouldn't they have integrated the old features and eliminated all the cruft by now?

-Libraries suck. When you drag something to a library, which of the subfolders of that library does it really go into? It's a mystery. I'd estimate that 95% of users have no idea how libraries work and just get confused when they see that for every library folder, there is another folder with a duplicate name inside of it. (Pictures->Pictures, Documents->Documents etc.) So for the vast majority of users, the library folders are just confusing and have no advantage over simply showing the folders that are *actually* present inside the home folder. As for me, most of the time they just get in the way. They take up vertical space in the folder pane (they are always expanded by default), blocking me from seeing the *actual* folders I am interested in, and they make navigating within the "Open file" dialog's drop-down file list a PITA.

-Certain actions are inexplicably only shown on the toolbar in certain contexts. Prime example: "Map network drive" is only available when "Computer" is selected. Not when "Network" is selected. And not when you're already looking right at the network folder you want to map. How intuitive is that?


As for the ribbon, I'm not entirely opposed to it. Fact is that Explorer gets more new features in every new version (e.g. Libraries, smart searches); maybe the ribbon will help new users navigate them. Just think about the amount of functionality that is currently all done in context menus, and think about the fact that not everyone uses them....

MS should think long and hard about those dynamic ribbon tabs though. Take a look at this picture:

Why have two extra sets of tabs for "Library Tools" and "Picture Tools", when each has just one sub-tab called "Manage"?? It's horribly confusing. Just add two *normal*, but dynamically appearing tabs called "Libraries" and "Pictures" and be done with it.

This misappropriation of good UI reminds me of the monstrosity that is the Office 2010 File menu. They took a perfectly good concept, the Office 2007 menu, and used it the wrong way, making it needlessly cover up the whole screen (blocking the view of the current document) and eliminating its most useful feature, the Recent files list that was shown by default.

MS has a lot of great ideas, but there seems to be this problem where in each successive release, the once-great designs fall victim to feature bloat....

Edited 2011-04-03 14:12 UTC

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