Images from a pre-beta version of Windows 8 reveal that Microsoft is apparently expanding its use of the ribbon interface to replace traditional pull-down menus and toolbars.

Following Microsoft's release of the latest pre-beta build of Windows 8 to select partners recently, screenshots of certain features in the upcoming OS were allegedly posted online. In particular, images displayed on enthusiast site Within Windows by "Windows 8 Secrets" co-authors Rafael Rivera and Paul Thurrott show the ribbon interface reaching Windows Explorer.

Introduced with Office 2007, the ribbon interface has been loved by some and reviled by others. But Microsoft has expanded its use of the ribbon, adding it to such programs as Paint and WordPad in Windows 7. Noting that the ribbon interface in the pre-beta Windows 8 is only half-finished and rather "unattractive," Rivera and Thurrott suggest that its potential appearance in Explorer may be controversial within Microsoft itself.

Beyond showing off the ribbon, the two authors also revealed a new welcome screen in Windows 8, which they say is based on the lock screen in Windows Phone 7. Displaying the date and time and offering a changeable background image, the new screen reportedly will also feature audio controls so people can play and adjust their music even when the screen is locked.

Full story: c|net