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The Best and Worst of Windows 8 Ribbon and Other Explorer Elements

Exploring Windows contents has been modified in Windows 8, leaving users uncertain whether to hate it or love it. As you may have heard, Microsoft Office Ribbon concept was implemented, alongside some other improvements, and some were disappointed. The "good" thing is you can switch almost all elements back to the old Windows 7 view, but then what's the point of using Windows 8 in the first place? We will be presenting all Windows Explorer 8 elements in an objective view, to get you more familiarised and ready to embrace Microsoft's new concept.


Anyone who has seen or used Microsoft Office 2007 or 2010 components (Word or Excel the most), would be more than familiar with the Ribbons concept. You may not know it by this name, but you certainly used it. It's a horizontal menu right above the writing area, which contains the most used options in that program. Microsoft's developers thought to apply the same concept in the Windows Explorer 8 user interface, leaving users with the right options at hand. It did sound good on paper, but some disagreed.

If you have installed Windows 8 you may have experienced it first hand or if not, as you can see in the image below, Ribbons occupy a lot of the workspace. Considering that advanced users can do basic actions like copy, delete, or cut using keyboard shortcuts, this area is useless. On the other hand, there are some options here, like Sharing, which puts a power-user to shame. By simply clicking it you can send the file through email, zip it or even burn a disk. The Ribbon menu is not always the same, changing every time a popular file type is selected.

The Ribbon can be temporarily disabled by clicking the little arrow from the upper right corner as shown in the screenshot below. The menu will simply hide as shown below and can be brought back using a reversed action. Also, there are ways of permanently disabling it.

Quick Access Toolbar

You can consider the Quick Access Toolbar as a micro-Ribbon menu, where only a few options are at hand. The toolbar can be placed above the usual menu, right near the top of the window or, below the Ribbon. In the picture below we minimized the Ribbon and now Windows 8 explorer windows looks more or less like that in Windows 7. As you can see, we could add basic actions like Undo, Redo, Delete, New Folder, Properties and Rename. They are all displayed above the "File" button.

New Copy System

Quite a lot of improvements can be seen here in terms of enhancements in style and a bunch of new options. When you copy a file in Windows 8, the dialog will display a detailed graphic representing speed and time axes and some details about the whole operation, like the number of items remaining, the time remaining and the "Done" percent. You can pause a transfer and begin another in place or when the daemon encounters conflicts, manually express your opinion. For example, when you want to replace a file with another, a detailed window appears that let's you preview existing files and manually pick it.

Mounting Images

Windows 8 natively supports the mount of disk images, files with extensions like .iso, .bin and others. This can be done by right-clicking on the image file and clicking on Mount. The image will be mounted like on virtual drive, without actually needing a 3rd party application to handle the work.