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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.

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