Microsoft unveils more Windows 8 features

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Microsoft has given the public further glimpses of what it can expect from the next generation of Windows software.

According to Windows division president Steven Sinofsky, the software giant is making major improvements to a key Windows Explorer file management program. The changes are expected to improve how the program interacts with the upcoming Windows 8 operating system.

“Windows 8 is about reimagining Windows, so we took on the challenge to improve the most widely used desktop tool (except maybe for Solitaire) in Windows,” Sinofsky said atop a blog post detailing Explorer modifications.

“Windows Explorer is a foundation of the user experience of the Windows desktop and has undergone several design changes over the years, but has not seen a substantial change in quite some time,” he added.

Alex Simmons of the program management team said that Microsoft’s engineers had set out to “return Explorer to its roots as an efficient file manager”. The team also wanted to expose some handy commands that many people might not know about.

One way of doing this is through the use of a control “ribbon” for commands which makes them more easily accessible to people other “power users” familiar with Windows Explorer shortcuts.

Other developments announced on the blog include the addition of native Explorer support for ISO files. An ISO file is simply a disc image stored as a file made up of all the contents of a CDROM or DVD disc.

The added support means that users will be able to simply double click on an ISO folder or click “mount” on the action bar and a new drive letter will appear, indicating that the contents are readily accessible.

The blog on which the announcements were made is designed to act both as a forum for announcing developments on Windows 8, and as a point of dialogue between its developers and the general public “about design choices, real-world data and usage, and new opportunities that are part of Windows 8″.

The public was given its first taste of the upcoming OS in June, when Sinofsky demonstrated some of the features at a D9 technology conference hosted by All Things Digital.

Microsoft says that it is building Windows 8 to integrate seamlessly across personal desktop computers, laptops and tablets.

Sinfosky has previously stated that Windows 8 “will be the very best operating system for hundreds of millions of PCs, new and old, used by well over a billion people globally”.

Microsoft has promised that it will reveal more features of Windows 8 at its developers conference in Anaheim, California on 13 September.

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