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Microsoft brings tabs to File Explorer

New Insider build adds a few toys, but leaves Pro X users reaching for the power button


Microsoft has treated some of the courageous Dev Channel crew of Windows Insiders to the long-awaited tabbed File Explorer.

"We are beginning to roll this feature out, so it isn't available to all Insiders in the Dev Channel just yet," the software giant said.

The Register was one of the lucky ones and we have to commend Microsoft on the implementation (overdue as it is). The purpose of the functionality is to allow users to work on more than one location at a time in File Explorer via tabs in the title bar.

The feature can be found in build 25136. Microsoft has also refreshed the left navigation pane for easier access to frequently used folders as well as a general tidying up. The "This PC" folder is now all about physical resources while known Windows folders (such as Documents and Pictures) have been moved elsewhere.

"We'd love your feedback on which tabs features you'd like to see next," said the Insider team. We'd suggest some consistency might be in order – fire up Microsoft Edge, for example, and the tab paradigm is markedly different. Tab overload results in lots of tiny tabs while File Explorer and Windows Terminal adopt a minimum width with arrows to scroll the tabline left and right.

Microsoft's obsession with widgets also continues in this build. As well as weather, users can also get live updates from the sports and finance widgets, along with breaking news alerts.

On top of the usual raft of fixes (including one to deal with a freeze after a user issues a wsl-shutdown command), Microsoft has updated Notepad and Media Player.

The former has received improvements in performance when dealing with large chunks of text and native Arm64 support. We had to head to the Microsoft Store to download the update, which is available on all channels, and saw the architecture switch from x64 to ARM64 in the Task Manager. The latter, which is Dev Channel only, has finally added the ability to sort songs and albums in a collection by date added.

As if to emphasize that this is all very much on the bleeding edge, Microsoft has warned that Surface Pro X users will get a black screen when trying to resume from hibernate and have to do a power cycle to restore their slab to life. The recommendation for those users is to skip this build. ®

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