Microsoft's Windows 8 Will Tweak File Management

Microsoft's Windows 8 will offer some tweaks to file management, particularly in how files are copied between locations, according to an official blog post.

Microsoft's trickle of official details about Windows 8 continues at a steady pace, with a new corporate blog posting that details the new-and-improved copy experience.

Small potatoes, you say? According to Microsoft, that's not the case.

"Copying, moving, renaming, and deleting are far and away the most heavily used features within Windows Explorer, representing 50 percent of total command usage (based on Windows 7 telemetry data)," Alex Simons, Microsoft's director of program management, wrote in an Aug. 24 posting on the "Building Windows 8" blog. Even though Windows Explorer could handle the larger copy jobs-i.e., the ones that take more than 2 minutes to complete-it wasn't "optimized for high-volume jobs or for executing multiple copy jobs concurrently."

Windows 8 will apparently consolidate pending copy jobs into a unified interface, with the ability to decide which jobs the system finishes first. Each copy job comes with a "real-time throughput graph," which helps give a more detailed view of "the speed of data transfer, the transfer rate trend, and how much data [is] left to transfer."

For all its tinkering with the copy experience, Microsoft's Windows 8 team apparently decided to focus on things other than improving the accuracy of the estimated time remaining for copy jobs to finish. In the post, Simons claims that estimating such a time with precision is difficult. "For instance, how much network bandwidth will be available for the length of the copy job?" he asked rhetorically. "Will your anti-virus software spin up and start scanning files? Will another application need to access the hard drive?" And so on.

Instead of refining Windows 8's underlying systems to provide an estimate "that would be only slightly improved over the current one," the team decided to focus on "presenting the information we were confident about in a useful and compelling way."

Windows 8 will also offer a clearer interface for resolving file name collisions (i.e., when you save a file as "Essay.doc" when one with that same name already exists on your hard drive). A tweaked window arranges the relevant information in a way Microsoft hopes is less confusing than in past Windows versions.

The "Building Windows 8" blog has offered a steady stream of new, sanctioned postings over the past few days. A previous entry focused on Windows 8's support for USB 3.0. Ones before that focused on some of the new features that will supposedly make an appearance, including an app store. Although Microsoft hasn't officially offered a release date, it's widely expected that Windows 8 will debut in 2012.

In the blog's inaugural Aug. 15 posting, Windows and Windows Live division President Steven Sinofsky offered a defense of Microsoft's decision to abandon Windows' "traditional" desktop-based interface in favor of large colored tiles reminiscent of Windows Phone.

"So much has changed since Windows 95-the last time Windows was significantly overhauled-when the -desktop' metaphor was established," he wrote. "Today, more than two out of three PCs are mobile (laptops, netbooks, notebooks, tablets, slates, convertibles, etc.). Nearly every PC is capable of wireless connectivity."

Follow Nicholas Kolakowski on Twitter