A consolidated dialog box showing multiple files being copied in Windows 8. This optional, detailed view shows transfer progress and throughput graphs. (Image Credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft tonight showed a new approach to copying and moving files in Windows 8, the next version of its PC operating system — aiming to clean up, clarify and consolidate the jumble of dialog boxes that Windows users have dealt with for years.

It’s not the type of thing that will get people to line up around the corner, but it suggests an attention to detail that bodes well for Windows 8 overall.

Windows 8 will show users the progress for multiple files in a single dialog box, rather than opening one dialog for each action. From the same unified dialog, users will be able to pause, resume and stop files from copying, and opt to see more details including a real-time throughput graph that plots the data-transfer speed over time.

Microsoft also is simplifying the process of resolving “file name collisions,” when a copied file has the same name as a file in the location to which it’s being copied. The confusing menu of options in Windows 7 will be replaced with a simple dialog with checkboxes for selecting the files to keep.

The changes are outlined in a post tonight on the Building Windows 8 blog by Microsoft’s Alex Simons. Watch this Microsoft video for demos.

[Follow-up: Microsoft ties a ribbon on Windows Explorer in Windows 8]

The Building Windows 8 blog was launched last week by Steven Sinofsky, the Windows president. He wrote in the introduction to tonight’s post that basic functions such as file copying are being impacted by the rising volume of digital storage — with people now able to store terabytes of photos, music, videos and other files on their local machines.

“These changes, along with consistent feedback about what we could improve, have inspired us to take a fresh look and redesign these operations,” Sinofsky wrote. “Of course this is just one feature among many, but we wanted to start with something we can all relate to.”

Microsoft previously showed a default, tile-based interface for Windows 8 that’s a dramatic departure from the traditional Windows appearance, although a classic view will also be available.

Microsoft is due to give more details about Windows 8 next month at its Build conference in Anaheim, Calif. The company hasn’t given a release date for Windows 8, but it’s widely expected in 2012.

Comments

  • http://www.thoughtful.co Chris Lynch

    There’s been a trend to obscure details from users more and more, and it’s interesting because this goes against that. It does show attention to detail, but most users won’t know what MB/s is, what the light vs dark green is, or why it’s not just percent complete. To me this looks like an addon that a poweruser might do.

    • http://geekwire.com Todd Bishop

      Thanks for the comment, Chris. Just to be clear, the image above is an optional, detailed view (a drop-down for more info). Be sure to check out the Microsoft post for images of what the standard consolidated dialog box will look like. 

      http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2011/08/23/improving-our-file-management-basics-copy-move-rename-and-delete.aspx

      • Anonymous

        The standard consolidated dialog box looks almost exactly like what Mac OS X has been using since at least 10.6.

        • Ray Burt

          I saw 14 comments and I just *knew* some would be that Windows continues to underperform and copy the greatest OS on the history of the planet…each an every MacOS ever built.  It only took 2 reader comments to get there (and it’s funny enough as we have Mac and PCs and the Mac OS is far from superior).

          • Anonymous

            Nobody said one was better than the other.   I’m sorry you feel so offended.

          • Ray Burt

            Copy…..see copy in my comment….see “looks almost exactly like” in your comment.  See.  React.

          • Guest

            Well the fact is that in this case Windows is following both OS X and Linux. Here’s an idea for MS: come out with so many real innovations in the next OS that nobody can claim it’s not. I mean, it’s not like they have had enough time to develop something unique, right?

        • Guest

          What’s your point? When they discuss features that OS X doesn’t have or are done better in Windows, which they will, are you going to comment about that too?

        • Guest

          What’s your point? When they discuss features that OS X doesn’t have or are done better in Windows, which they will, are you going to comment about that too?

        • http://twitter.com/Vroo Vroo (Bruce Leban)

          And both look a lot like the download progress dialog in browsers since I can’t remember. Combining multiple windows into one isn’t novel or non-obvious but I’m sure someone patented it already and both Apple and Microsoft are infringing.

  • Guest

    Kudos to Microsoft for this improvement! I consider myself a detail-oriented person and I appreciate Microsoft’s attention to detail in a world where giant rainbow beachballs are meant to denote “progress.”

    • Anonymous

      Regardless of whether you were being puntastic or not, OS X’s Spinning Wait Cursor has nothing to do with being a progress bar (i.e. it does not show up whatsoever when you’re copying a file unless the computer is frozen somehow).

      In fact, OS X’s progress bar is very similar to Windows’ (see attached).

      • Guest

        That “OS X progress bar” looks rather spartan. Where’s the current transfer rate? How long is “less than a minute”? I’m very disappointed in Apple for not telling me all the information I want. That might as well be a beachball, Dan.

        • Canucker

          It is unnecessarily spartan and there is no option to show more data. It only shows amount downloaded/total size of file. Doesn’t matter for small files but media files (like HD movies via AppleTV for example), a more Microsoftian detailed view would be much more useful.

        • Guest

          No, it’s magically innovative in its simplification. Please get on message ;-)

        • Anonymous

          Regardless, it doesn’t lend you credence for your original trollish comment which I refuted.
          Oh, and in case you weren’t aware, a progress bar is a graphical tool used to indicate the progress of a process; it does not include all that arguable unnecessary information such as “transfer rate”.
          Further, on Windows 7, the file transfer rate info that is available is almost always inaccurate (a lá Internet Explorer’s file download rate) and thus renders the stats useless.

    • Anonymous

      Regardless of whether you were being puntastic or not, OS X’s Spinning Wait Cursor has nothing to do with being a progress bar (i.e. it does not show up whatsoever when you’re copying a file unless the computer is frozen somehow).

      In fact, OS X’s progress bar is very similar to Windows’ (see attached).

  • Guest

    Smarter file copying is good. Faster file copying would be better.

    I’m a little worried about all the references to “telemetry told us”. While some of that is obviously useful to further refine aspects of the OS, the challenge facing MS isn’t to make hundreds of improvement tweaks like it was for Vista > W7. As Sinofsky said, they need to fundamentally re-envision Windows for a new world of use cases and devices. That’s more of an artistic effort than a science project. And I’m hoping that UI isn’t final, because it doesn’t seem to have any consistency with Metro.

    • http://geekwire.com Todd Bishop

      That potential UI inconsistency struck me, as well. Should be interesting to see if Microsoft can mesh traditional elements such as these dialog boxes with the new Windows 8 tiles and the Metro design, without it being jarring.

    • GW fan

      To envision or re-envision requires a visionary…and who would that be these days at Microsoft?

      • http://www.twitter.com/rurikbradbury Rurik Bradbury

        Steve Jobs.  As he said some years ago, “Redmond, start your photocopiers…”

        Kidding aside, the Metro UI paradigm is great: better than iOS and Lion. But MS are badly missing a big-picture visionary.

      • http://www.twitter.com/rurikbradbury Rurik Bradbury

        Steve Jobs.  As he said some years ago, “Redmond, start your photocopiers…”

        Kidding aside, the Metro UI paradigm is great: better than iOS and Lion. But MS are badly missing a big-picture visionary.

  • Guest

    Interesting in what it says about the relative approaches of MS vs Apple. MS’s answer to the chore of file system maintenance is to give you additional power toys. Apple’s is to try and remove a user-visible file system entirely, as they have on iOS.

  • Paulo Miguel Dias

    Great MS, you “invented a feature” thats part of KDE 4.x since its inception… i bet you will try to sue KDE next year for “infringing in your inovations” once again…

    Dont believe me? heres a little screenshot i just took from my kubuntu with kde 4.7.

    Any similarity is mere coincidence :P

    • Guest

      That’s horrible, Paulo. Your screen shot has way too much transparency. I can’t tell where the “Ass…RRip” file’s progress bar begins or ends or how much is filled. Those ugly Linux fonts aren’t helping any. The dialog box is cut off too high by the “shadow” from the menu bar. (And what’s with those 15 hideous icons above the dialog box?) 

      In conclusion, I hope KDE attracts some professional UI designers willing to work for free. If that’s the best the open source community can do, no wonder 2011 won’t be the year of Linux on the desktop.

      • Paulo Miguel Dias

        thats just a theme (transparency, whatever), the icons above is the systray (which is “stretched”, i could tell it to hide the unused icons).

        But you didnt comment in the real issue… the MS dialog is a EXACT copy (theme appart) or a open source project… so what gives? its ok for MS to try to sue linux and related for patents they never proved, but its also ok to RIP this “feature” from KDE all together?

        Thats the real issue here.

        And btw linux desktop year is so passe :D we dont need desktop, we never did… thats a proprietary mentality, we have mobile now :D we have tablets… leave those old pcs to office drones.. btw we have servers too ;)

        and the internet ;) http://news.netcraft.com/

        PS. this last part is suposed to be funny.. i even marked it so ppl dont complain about it :D

        • Guest

          Paulo, of course it’s OK to take ideas from KDE. KDE is Free Software so Microsoft is Free to do whatever it wants with the “ideas” contained therein.

          You know, Paulo, like make them usable. Your desktop looks like a nightmare I had in 1991. Microsoft and Apple make UIs that normal people can use without having to peer through soapy-looking “transparent” windows defaced with ugly 6-point fonts.

          • Paulo Miguel Dias

            From a screenshot of a little dialog you could see my entire desktop? oO whoa!… ok… you have very vivid nightmares :D

            Anyway back to the topic, FREE as in speech doesnt mean the same as free as in beer, kde is open source, free is a consequence.. and even so, being open source it still has copyright and patents (just so happens that if you use GPL2/3 code the patents are free IF you give it back to the community). ence for MS to use  this same file dialog, she would need too license the entire Windows 8 as open source according to the GPL2. :) hey , maybe thats a surprise MS is in store for us when W8 comes out ;)

          • Guest

            Congratulations and good luck with the GPL enforcement lawsuit, Paulo!

          • Guest

            Dude, put down the bong. KDE didn’t invent the concept. There have been variations for years in various Windows add-ons.

          • Me

            file copy dialogs are hardly unique.  Get over yourself.

          • Guest

            by the looks of your desktop, you don’t know a THING about UI design.  What would you do, use a big circle to represent the file copy?  A big triangle with a smiley face? Should they change it just to be different? 

            What’s you point again?

          • Mergathal

            Well, I guess Microsoft will just have to sue the whole group of people coding in linux who are stealing their ideas from Microsoft into the ground in return then, right? How many of the current distro’s for linux have stolen from Windows and OSx ? Too many more than your ONE example.

        • Mergathal

          The only people who care about linux are the few who actually use it… which is what, 1.1% of all computer users. Too bad that Linux is trying to gain a bigger share with horrible desktops (a.k.a Ubuntu 11’s garbage GUI, prior versions were much better) Instead of complaining about stealing something that is freely given in the first place (makes you look ignorant). Just remember, until linux comes out of the stone age it still is in in many respects, no one will give a rat’s behind about linux. Not saying that it doesn’t have its uses but when the linux community is so hot to try and mimic Windows, you shouldn’t talk about one feature that Windows mimics linux in.

    • Canucker

      Huh? The KDE progress bar is more akin to OS X than Win8.  It’s the graph that is informative, not just showing multiple simultaneous downloads.  I want to know if the transfer rate is changing, not try to guess it from the progress rate of the bar – which means looking at it all the time.

      • Paulo Miguel Dias

        See my second post below, it shows the graph with transfer rate, etc

      • Paulo Miguel Dias

        See my second post below, it shows the graph with transfer rate, etc

  • Paulo Miguel Dias

    Btw i forgot to add, the file copy also has the little graphic, i forgot to click on the + button when i took the screenshot, see this new one :)

    • http://twitter.com/DaQuantumFro DaMarico Fowler

      I’d just like to interject and say that the post mentions that they are adding the feature because a lot of users were using programs add-ons like Copy Handler. 

    • Spass much

      There’s good UI design, and bad UI design.  Why should MS change it, just to be different?  That is your only argument, if you can call it that.  Regardless, you come across like a combative twat, grow up.

  • Anonymous

    Looks like WIndows8 is just gonna be cool like that. Wow.
    http://www.web-anon.at.tc

  • Anonymous

    I hope they make it more powerful too.  I hate having to move to “robocopy” or something similar to get much more detailed copy tasks done.

  • Jman

    This is news?

  • http://twitter.com/cris178 Cristian

    isnt windows 8 and the new xbox, zune baicallly and no am not talking about the zune hd i mean the zune software on the computer. i saw the video previewing the new twist ui for xbox and realized it moves just like the zune software start screen where it shows artist tiles and you move the mouse over to move on. am guessing thats also how its gonna work for windows 8 just move mouse to the right and so does the screen just like the zune software.
    so it seems that zune is the innovation at microsoft.

    • Mergathal

      They are merging the different OS’s basically into one that will be powerful enough for your PC but simple enough for your portable and media devices. Zune is not the innovation.

  • Anonymous

    Hey Windows 8 teams.  Whatever you do, remember one thing – Less Is More – that is today design in any aspects.. Billy Nguyen

  • Anonymous

    Hey Windows 8 teams.  Whatever you do, remember one thing – Less Is More – that is today design in any aspects.. Billy Nguyen

  • http://ClaussConcept.com Jason Gerard Clauss

    Thank God, Microsoft has served the power user and not abandoned us in favor of the mass of morons. I think I just had a UXgasm…

  • http://overhackit.com marksans

    are the graphs really necessary?

  • Sam_Norton

    Is RDC (Remote Differential Compression) used for the copy ?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_J7QKTCW2PZUBCIR6TZROAOXTL4 Jeff

    Cool improvement, but I would like to see a way to copy a file from one directory, move to another directory and copy some more, then paste them into a single folder.  Can this be done by any OS without add-ons?

Job Listings on GeekWork