Windows 8 File Management Enhanced fro Users Doing High-Volume Copying

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 August 2011 09:39 Written by Mire_B Tuesday, 23 August 2011 09:39

Windows Explorer will be better equipped to let users perform various file management tasks in Windows 8. It won’t replace add-ons for those power users that have never relied on just Windows Explorer before, but it will bring some new functionality for users. Copy jobs will be centralized into a single window, instead of being spread across several dialog boxes as it’s the case today, and users will get extra functions, as well as more visual feedback from the operations performed by their computers. Nothing extraordinarily impressive if you ask me, but it will be easier to copy, move, rename and delete files in Windows 8 than it is in Windows 7.

 
Improving our file management basics: copy, move, rename, and delete

 

Copying, moving, renaming, and deleting are far and away the most heavily used features within Windows Explorer, representing 50% of total command usage (based on Windows 7 telemetry data). For Windows 8, we want to make sure that using these core file management commands, which we collectively refer to as “copy jobs,” is a great experience.

We know from telemetry data (which is based on hundreds of millions of individuals opting in to provide anonymous data about product usage), that although 50% of these jobs take less than 10 seconds to complete, many people are also doing much larger jobs, 20% of which take more than 2 minutes to complete. Prior versions of Windows Explorer can handle these kinds of jobs, but Explorer isn’t optimized for high-volume jobs or for executing multiple copy jobs concurrently.

Usability studies confirm what most of us know—there are some pretty cluttered and confusing parts of the Windows 7 copy experience. This is particularly true when people need to deal with files and folders that have the same file names, in what we call file name collisions. Lastly, our telemetry shows that 5.61% of copy jobs fail to complete for a variety of different reasons ranging from network interruptions to people just canceling the operation.

We clearly have an opportunity to make some improvements in the experience of high-volume copying, in dealing with file name collisions, and in assuring the successful completion of copy jobs.

Many of you reading this blog post come at this from a slightly different perspective. Like me, you might already have a third-party copy management tool that already addresses these high-volume scenarios. Our telemetry data shows that the most popular of these add-ons (such as TeraCopy, FastCopy, and Copy Handler) are running on fewer than .45% of Windows 7 PCs. While that might be a large absolute number given the size of the Windows 7 customer base, it still tells us that most people do not have a great tool for high-volume copy jobs.

We aren’t aiming to match the feature sets of these add-ons. We expect that there will be a vibrant market for third-party add-ons for a long time. Our focus is on improving the experience of the person who is doing high-volume copying with Explorer today, who would like more control, more insight into what’s going on while copying, and a cleaner, more streamlined experience.

In Windows 8, we have three main goals for our improvements to the copy experience:

  • One place to manage all copy jobs: Create one unified experience for managing and monitoring ongoing copy operations.
  • Clear and concise: Remove distractions and give people the key information they need.
  • User in control: Put people in control of their copy operations.

Based on these goals, we made four major improvements to the copy experience. Here is a short video demo of these improvements—but keep reading for a more detailed tour.


If you don’t see a video here or can’t play it, download it here: High quality MP4 | Low quality MP4

First, we’ve consolidated the copy experience. You can now review and control all the Explorer copy jobs currently executing in one combined UI. Windows 8 presents all pending copy jobs in this single dialog, saving you from having to navigate through multiple floating dialogs looking for the one you need.

Figure 1 - Consolidated copy (fewer details view)

Next, we’ve added the ability to pause, resume, and stop each copy operation currently underway. This gives you control over which copy jobs will complete first. You can also click any of the source or destination folders while the copy operation is taking place and open up those folders.

Figure 2 - Pause (fewer details view)

To support this new ability to prioritize and decide, we’ve added a detailed view with a real-time throughput graph. Now each copy job shows the speed of data transfer, the transfer rate trend, and how much data in left to transfer. While this is not designed for benchmarking, in many cases it can provide a quick and easy way to assess what is going on for a particular job.

Here you can see three copy jobs underway:

Figure 3 - Consolidated copy (more details view)

And here you can see how the speed of file transfer increases substantially when two of the copy jobs are paused:

Figure 4 - Pause (more details view)


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