Microsoft intends to make a major visual overhaul in the Windows 11 File Explorer, aligning it with the new system design proposal. The manufacturer must update the main areas of the app and bring features to optimize integration with OneDrive and the Microsoft 365 suite (formerly Office).
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Screenshots leaked by the Windows Central website reveal what the Windows folder browsing utility should look like. What you can say right away is a cleaner look, with fewer icons and more like an internet browser, like Chrome and Edge.
The header should be redrawn with the tabs separated and the buttons to maximize, minimize and close the window. There will be written the name of the folder with the respective icon next to it, following the existing pattern since Windows 10.
It is possible to notice an unprecedented Home button and a search box with a more modern look. The shortcuts to advance, go back, update or go up one level are present, but in a more spaced way.
File Explorer with more modern look
The second shortcut bar will now only contain those elements mentioned above. The copy, cut, paste and other buttons will be moved to a new area positioned just below, before the display of files and folders. It may not seem like much, but this relocation has created a much larger breathing space for File Explorer.
As mentioned above, the Home page should contain a series of integrations with Microsoft 365 files. At the top, there will be a feed of recommended files, based on those that the user has recently opened or that they interact with frequently. These shortcuts will be represented with thumbnails for easy viewing, without requiring the person to have to open the files to know what it is.
The folder navigation bar, positioned on the left side, should remain similar to what it is today in structural terms. In the visual part, the icons are more prominent, the font has been modernized and there are more spaces between each element on the screen.
More integration with Microsoft 365
Another change is the details of each file displayed in Explorer. Before, there were already many options available, but all of them were related to offline data of the file, such as the size and the last time it was modified. Now, modernization now displays the exact location, including files in the cloud and the people who edited the document.
For those who work using shared OneDrive, you will even be able to see files shared with your profile. You can view documents hosted on the account of others or attached to email conversations. This can all be accessed by Windows 11 itself, without having to open a browser or manually connect to the cloud storage, as is the case today.
The new File Explorer is also expected to have a dedicated gallery area, displaying photos directly within the utility. In previous versions of Windows, you had to open a dedicated application to view photos or videos, which required extra computer processing.
When does the new File Explorer arrive?
There is no release date for the new File Explorer at this time. As this screen was leaked, there is a possibility that the company is still making adjustments, which may change until the release for testing those registered in the Windows Insiders program.
A guess based on past situations would be a release in Windows’ big yearly update, versions 23H1 or 23H2, both slated for release sometime in the first or second half, respectively. It is possible that Satya Nadella’s company will present something at the Microsoft Build 2023 event, scheduled for May of this year.
What is known, for sure, is that this could be the biggest File Explorer update since the failed Windows 8 attempt. It is a necessary adjustment to keep up with the modernity standard preached by the company with the arrival of Windows 11 on the market.
Microsoft has been working to tweak Windows 11, including making updating less time-consuming and more streamlined. Microsoft revealed that the .NET update and the optional January package will arrive with the 22H2 version of the operating system, a change that, in practice, will allow installing updates by restarting the PC only once.