Microsoft detailed Windows 8's Windows Explorer ribbon in a corporate blog posting.
almost certainly reveal some significant details about Windows 8 at September's
meantime, the company seems content to dribble out tiny glimpses of its
upcoming operating system, courtesy of the Building Windows 8 blog. Overwhelmingly, the
blog's posts have focused much less on Windows 8's user interface, and much
more on structural elements such as support for USB 3.0 and revisions to Windows
8, Microsoft is largely abandoning the traditional "desktop" interface that
defined previous Windows editions in favor of a user interface centered on
large, colorful tiles. The new UI is heavily reminiscent of Windows Phone.
Through this revamp, Microsoft is creating an operating system that, at least
in theory, will operate on a wide variety of form factors, from tablets to
traditional laptops and desktops.
need to convince people that the revamped operating system is just as capable
of performing all the functions they need-hence, possibly, the blog's focus on
these under-the-hood elements.
posting focuses on Windows 8's revamp of Windows Explorer. Microsoft's Windows
team had three goals here: optimize file-management tasks, create a streamlined
command experience, and maintain the "power and richness" of Explorer while
bringing back some "relevant and requested features" from Windows XP into the
Windows 8 architecture.
In the end,
the team decided to embrace the ribbon as a unifying element for Windows 8's
version of Windows Explorer. "The ribbon would allow us to create an optimized
file manager where commands would have reliable, logical locations in a
streamlined experience," Alex Simons, Microsoft's director of program
management, wrote in an Aug. 29 posting. "The flexibility of the ribbon with
many icon options, tabs, flexible layout and groupings also ensured that we
could respect Explorer's heritage."
"the ribbon also provides a much more reliable and usable touch-only interface
than pull-down menus and context menus," he added, and meets the needs of power
users. Windows teams are apparently working to "mitigate" how much screen real
estate is taken up by the typical ribbon.
interesting side note: Back in April, Rafael Rivera and Paul Thurrott, two
bloggers with a track record of delving into Microsoft's proprietary code base,
wrote a posting on Rivera's Within Windows blog detailing the presence of a
Windows Explorer ribbon in Windows 8, which included an extensive file menu, as
well as tools for viewing libraries and managing drive assets.
soon have a chance to test the ribbon out for themselves. Earlier in August,
speculation erupted over the possibility that Microsoft, in a bid to generate
additional early buzz for Windows 8, would distribute an early build of the
operating system on quad-core tablets at BUILD.
largely originated thanks to Microsoft's TechEd New Zealand conference, where
Microsoft principal architect Patrick Hevesi offered up a glimpse of said
tablet. IT consultant Alan Burchill, attending the conference, snapped off a
couple of quick images, which he subsequently posted on his blog at Smartergeek.info.
the story broke into the larger blogosphere. Burchill's photos don't offer a
glimpse of the tablet's operating system, but bloggers chattered at length that
the device would be handed out to BUILD attendees loaded with a Windows 8 test
version. "Most Microsoft watchers are expecting Microsoft to provide paying
attendees with a test build of Windows 8," Mary-Jo Foley wrote in an Aug. 25
posting on her All About Microsoft blog, "and maybe some kind of PC or slate
prototype to use to develop applications for the upcoming operating system."
conference kicks off in Anaheim, Calif., on Sept. 13.
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Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.