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Microsoft made some major changes to Windows Explorer with the release of Windows 8. They finally brought the once hated, but now popular, ribbon interface to the built-in Explorer app. The ribbon toolbar was almost universally panned when it debuted in Office 2007, but by the time Office 2010 rolled around customers had become familiar with it and actually began to at least accept it if not flat out like it.

That is a good thing because the interface isn’t going anywhere — we already know it is included in Office 2013 and Microsoft has also added it to the Windows 8 Explorer app as well.

However, one thing that the Redmond, Washington-based company failed to add was a tab feature. Ironically that seems to be almost universally considered the number one most requested feature by Windows users, thanks to familiarity with web browser interfaces.


Explorer may not be the most advanced file management tool that’s available, but it does get the job done. If you’ve been a Windows user for any length of time, you’ve probably grown used to hitting the Windows key and E to fire up Explorer.

This is the reason that it can be difficult to move to an Explorer replacement – your memory muscle will almost invariably default to using the known shortcut and you may well find that you end up defaulting back to Explorer. Clover is an Explorer add-on that enables you to stick with Windows’ built in file browser while gaining some extra features.


Windows Explorer does a basic job for Windows pretty well. But when using it, you can’t feel but that it’s a bit under featured. In the common situation where I’m working with more than one folder at the same time, I have to manage a separate Explorer window for each folder. That was once the normal state for applications, but lately application designers have begun bundling similar tasks into a single window.

Multi-document interfaces date back to the early days of Windows, but became very popular when adopted by many popular web browsers several years ago. The native Windows Explorer application hasn’t followed this pattern so for actions such as dragging files from one folder to another you must keep separate windows open. Will TabExplorer improve your computing experience? Let’s find out!

Editor’s Note: Often, an app is interesting enough to warrant multiple, different perspectives on its functionality and usability. Last week, you read Mark’s take on TabExplorer. This week, we’re going to take another look at it!


The idea of tabbed program interfaces is far from new – it is something that has been present in web browsers and numerous other applications for many years now. It’s a great alternative to having to work with multiple window for the same program, and makes it easier to switch between documents and views than using menus.

But strangely, tabs are something that have not really made their way into Windows itself. While Internet Explorer is adorned with tabs, the same cannot be said of Windows Explorer. That is, until you install the free utility TabExplorer.