Yesterday, Alex Simons from the program management team of Microsoft Windows shed some light on the planned enhancements for Explorer in Windows 8. I enthusiastically welcomed the new Ribbonized Explorer that Microsoft showed off. Minutes later, I was left scratching my head as negative responses begun pouring in from across the web.
BetaNews compared the new Explorer with an overstuffed refrigerator” and dubbed it as “a maze only navigable by your home’s primary cook, while Laurie Voss concluded that Microsoft UI has officially entered the realm of self-parody. The overwhelming consensus is that the Ribbon for Explorer is a bad idea as its overly complicated, and plain unnecessary. Of course, my personal opinion is drastically different. I will try to tackle some of the most common complaints and offer my perspective in this op-ed.
It’s Useless: This argument couldn’t be any further from the truth. The tabbed interface makes it possible to expose a multitude of features in the GUI, without overburdening a novice user. Here are some of the neat little things that will be possible with the new Explorer:
- Compressing multiple files into a single zip file and emailing it with a couple of clicks.
- Single click sharing of files with networked users.
- Contextual searching that is both simple and powerful.
- Enhanced and simplified keyboard navigation.
The Ribbon interface also makes several nifty existing features more accessible and discoverable. Here’s a very brief list of stuff that’s easier to do with Windows 8.
- View hidden files and folders with a single click.
- Launch command prompt in admin mode directly from the Explorer.
- Rollback documents to a previous version with a couple of clicks.
Some of the buttons such as Copy, Paste, and Delete are redundant as most users perform these operations through context-menu or keyboard shortcuts. However, not including them also would have been quite controversial as they do represent the most commonly performed tasks by a user. Hence, even though almost everyone other than novices wouldn’t find these buttons of much use, it makes sense to feature them prominently. Microsoft also probably went overboard with the various selection options. However, on the whole, the Ribbon UI adds plenty of value to the Explorer.