Windows Explorer is getting some big changes in Windows 8, including a "ribbon" of contextual options and the return of some features that had been missing since Windows XP.

The ribbon is a strip of commands and options, running across the top of the application window, that changes depending on what the user is doing. For instance, when viewing the "Pictures" folder in Windows Explorer, users will see options to rotate photos or to set them as a desktop background. When looking at the computer's root directory, options will appear for formatting, cleaning up, or optimizing the disk drive.

Windows 8 will feature a revamped Explorer, including a ribbon of contextual options.The ribbon concept debuted in Office 2007, and has since appeared in other programs such as Wordpad and Paint. Its goal is to expose features that might otherwise be hidden behind layers of menu options.

But not everyone loves the ribbon because of the way it clutters the interface, a point that Microsoft's Steven Sinofsky tries to address on the Building Windows 8 blog. Although the ribbon takes up a lot of room at the top of the screen, he wrote, Microsoft has moved the "details" pane from the bottom of the window to the right side, leaving more vertical room for files than Windows 7's Explorer. He also noted that every command in the ribbon will have a keyboard shortcut--an oft-requested feature for power users.

Full story: PC World