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Microsoft's sought-after tabbed File Explorer gets closer to release

Users hopeful of waving bye to window overload as staggered rollout moves from Dev to Beta Channel

Microsoft has added tabbed File Explorer functionality to the Window Insider beta channel, opening up the possibility of it making an appearance in the next major Windows Update.

File Explorer Tabs turned up in the bleeding edge Windows Insider Dev Channel last week, although – as is so frustratingly often the case – Microsoft opted for a staggered rollout. (It's not as if you joined the Insider channel for the latest and greatest to actually get your hands on the latest and greatest, right?)

Since then, things went well enough for Microsoft to roll out the tabs in build 22621.160 for the Beta Channel. Build 22621 is currently in the Release Preview Channel and is expected to be the basis for Windows 11 22H2, due at some point in the coming months.

There is no guarantee that what is in the Beta Channel will make it to Release Preview, although Microsoft has yet to publish a complete list of the new features in the 22H2 release. The company therefore has a little wiggle room (that said, adding tabs to File Explorer would be quite a wiggle this close to release.)

While Microsoft has noted that Beta Channel insiders might sometimes get functionality ahead of their more courageous Dev Channel compatriots, the fact that this sought-after functionality could be in the hands of members of the former channel while those in the latter wait their turn in the staggered roll-out could well stick in the craw.

The speed at which the feature has made the jump is an indicator of Microsoft's confidence in it (the only known issue is related to a misalignment of the up arrow in the tabs.)

There is therefore every chance that File Explorer could make it into the release, although we imagine that a bit of training will need to be rolled out alongside. The tabs are useful and cut down on window overload, although the changes to the left navigation pane could confuse some customers.

As with the Dev Channel, Microsoft adopted a staggered rollout "as we plan to monitor feedback."

Clearly that feedback from the Dev Channel users lucky enough to get the update was so overwhelmingly positive that Microsoft felt it could be shunted to the more stable Beta Channel in a matter of days. ®

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