Microsoft begins testing tabs in Windows 11 File Explorer

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Microsoft finally delivers one of Windows 11’s most anticipated features. Insider Preview build 25136, just released to the Dev Channel, adds File Explorer tabs and navigation updates for Windows 11.

Just as Microsoft announced at its latest Windows Powers the Future of Hybrid Work event, File Explorer tabs are designed to help you work in multiple locations simultaneously. Tabs are found in the title bar and give you quick access to your favorite content.

However, it seems to be in the A/B testing phase at the moment. Microsoft says they’re just rolling out the feature and it won’t be available to all Dev Channel Insiders just yet. This is so they can monitor feedback on the feature.

In addition to the tabbed experience, Microsoft has also refreshed the layout of the left navigation pane. It is now easier to navigate to the folders that interest you. Here’s what the company says:

The updated organization provides easy access to your pinned and frequently used folders (quick access) and your OneDrive cloud profiles added to Windows. OneDrive cloud profiles reflect the user name associated with the account. Known Windows folders that are available by default in the Navigation Pane are no longer displayed under This PC to keep this view focused for your PC’s drives. When navigating to folders synced with OneDrive such as Documents, Pictures, etc., the address bar displays the correct path to help clarify when your folders are on the cloud versus when they are local to you .

Interestingly, a second new feature in this release is widgets. Microsoft is trying out Dynamic Widgets content on the taskbar, so in addition to seeing live weather widget content, you’ll also be able to see sports and finance updates, as well as breaking news. From Microsoft:

This should make it easier for you to know when something important is happening related to these widgets and to keep you updated with the latest news. The content is meant to be quick and visible with the ability to see more inside the widget table if clicked. However, if you don’t interact with the content update, the taskbar will show you the weather again.

As usual, this version comes with other changes and improvements regarding typing, taskbar, startup, settings, and more. Check them out below.

  • We’re starting to roll out the ability for Insiders to report animated gifs they deem inappropriate from the emoji panel (WIN+.)
  • Fixed an issue causing some PCs to be incorrectly detected as tablets. When this happened, compact mode and the option to hide checkboxes in file explorer did not take effect.
  • Fixed an issue that caused some Insiders to experience a SYSTEM_SERVICE_EXCEPTION bugcheck in recent builds in the dev channel
  • Fixed an issue that sometimes caused taskbar apps to overflow system tray icons.
  • When hovering over an app in the system tray, its notification no longer flashes.
  • Fixed an issue that could cause Start to display only one column of recommended items.
  • If you pin a lot of apps to Start, it should now refresh to display them more reliably.
  • Fixed an issue from the previous flight where the Disks and Volumes section of System > Storage did not show any disks or volumes.
  • We fixed a rare issue that caused title bars to sometimes become transparent or sometimes missing in some apps.
  • Fixed an issue where Windows Update could unexpectedly show error 0x00000000 when there was nothing wrong.
  • Fixed an issue that caused some devices to bug check with HYPERVISOR_ERROR when trying to upgrade to a new version.
  • Fixed an issue that caused Task Manager to crash on launch sometimes after switching between light and dark modes or changing the accent color.
  • Fixed an issue that could cause increased latency or stuttering in games when v-sync was used.
  • Fixed an issue that could cause some PCs to hang after running the wsl –shutdown command.

As for known issues in this release, there are three big ones. First, Windows Insiders on Surface Pro X devices will display a black screen while attempting to wake from hibernation. Microsoft is also investigating a situation where the Mica material and the acrylic blur effect are not displaying correctly in operating system surfaces such as the Start menu, Action Center, and other areas. Finally, Microsoft is investigating reports that shutting down via the Start menu isn’t working for some insiders and is unexpectedly restarting instead. The others are below.

  • Up arrow is misaligned in File Explorer tabs. This will be fixed in a future update.
  • Some games that use Easy Anti-Cheat may crash or cause a bug check on your PC.
  • Some full-screen applications (eg, video players) prevent live captions from being visible.
  • Some applications positioned near the top of the screen and closed before running live captions will relaunch behind the top-positioned live captions window. Use the system menu (ALT+spacebar) while the application has focus to move the application window lower.

This is definitely one of the biggest Dev Channel releases in a while! Happy downloading, Windows Insiders! And let us know what you think of the tabs experience in File Explorer by leaving us a comment below.

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