Another Windows 8 tidbit: File management to get an overhaul

Another Windows 8 tidbit: File management to get an overhaul

Summary: Microsoft's Windows 8 engineering team is continuing to trickle out information on some of the changes coming with the next version of Windows. Today's tidbit is about how file management/copying will be getting an overhaul.

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Bit by bit, the Windows 8 engineering team is revealing some of the under-the-covers changes coming with the next release of Windows.

In the latest (August 23) posting to the "Building Windows 8" blog, Program Management Director Alex Simons shared more about what Microsoft has been doing to tweak the copying/moving/renaming and deleting of files in Windows.

(And if you think this is a "who cares" kind of thing, at 8:30 a.m. ET on August 24, there were nearly 150 comments on this post, the vast majority of which are from people with real ideas and opinions on the topic. With Windows, there is no feature too insignificant to merit lots and lots and lots of heated feedback.)

The core file-management commands in Windows 8 that handle so-called "copy jobs" are going to be optimized for high-volume, concurrent simultaneous use, according to the new blog post.

Currently, fewer than .45 percent of Windows 7 PC users (a number brought to you by the infamous telemetry gathering done by the Windows team) are using third-party tools optimized for these kinds of jobs. While Microsoft still sees a place for third-party copy-job add-ons, Simons maintained, the Windows team is going to be adding to Windows 8 new functionality to the Windows Explorer to handle high-volume copy jobs.

"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," he said.

The post includes a new video of how Windows 8 will tackle file-copying tasks, as well as lots more granular details about the coming copying experience (including new dialog-box options for resolving conflicting file names, etc.).

As a number of commentators on the five "Building Windows 8" posts that have been published in the past week are quick to note, Microsoft still hasn't shared information on many key topics of interest about its coming Windows release (especially around the development-tool story beyond HTML5/JavaScript). Microsoft officials are not expected to talk about this information until mid-September at the Build conference.

Today, by the way, is the 16th anniversary of the launch of Windows 95, for all you granular-tidbit-loving Windows watchers.... And it's also the 10th anniversary of the release to manufacturing of Windows XP, as my ZDNet colleague Zack Whittaker notes.

Topics: Software, Operating Systems, Windows

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • RE: Another Windows 8 tidbit: File management to get an overhaul

    What's needed is a File system overhaul.
    Return_of_the_jedi
    • File/storage system overhaul

      Hi. Maybe that is coming, too. As I've noted previously, a member of the File Server team is on tap to speak at the Build conference....

      http://blogs.technet.com/b/josebda/archive/2011/08/17/i-will-be-speaking-at-the-build-conference-next-month.aspx

      MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
    • RE: Another Windows 8 tidbit: File management to get an overhaul

      @Return_of_the_jedi

      Why? There's nothing wrong with the file system.
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • The filesystem may be ok - but file management is lousy

        @Cylon Centurion

        There are LOTS of problems with the file management. Like when you copy a large file, the actual system performance pigs out. If you copy a lot of files, the system spends half its time just *counting* them. Something as trivial as moving a folder can take forever when it should just be moving an entry in a directory table.
        TheWerewolf
      • Also when you change the location of a file

        @Cylon Centurion Windows doesn't know to inform the application that file location has changed. You have to locate the file and open it. This is for scenarios like the most recent files menu in an application.
        adacosta38
      • RE: Another Windows 8 tidbit: File management to get an overhaul

        @adacosta38

        Is there a way to actually do that? Considering the billions of third party applications out there, how would the developers be able to code something like that?
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • RE: Another Windows 8 tidbit: File management to get an overhaul

        @TheWerewolf

        That's because file explorer is a pig. Try doing the same things in the command prompt. It is significantly faster.
        Nathan A Smith
      • RE: Another Windows 8 tidbit: File management to get an overhaul

        @adacosta38

        Actually if you move a file on a system using NTFS to another NTFS location on the same computer, it will be able to find the moved file and then update the launching shortcut. The concept is called "link tracking". It's only when you change file systems in the move (NTFS to FAT32 for example) that the Windows file system will not be able to follow the file.

        For your reading pleasure:
        http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa363997(v=vs.85).aspx
        PollyProteus
      • RE: Another Windows 8 tidbit: File management to get an overhaul

        @Cylon Centurion
        nothing wrong?
        You've never moved a folder with thousands of files to another folder or computer, and after waiting 1+ hours, have it fail in the middle? (due to network or bad file or other issues...) And then not know which files were moved and which were not? And then have no way to resume the process, and instead have to scream at Windows because it has to waste your time doing it again and that you have to babysit it for hours?
        No, really?

        Or how about accidently moving a file or folder in with the mousepad on a high resolution system, and not know just WTF happened, and where that file or folder went?
        voltrarian
      • RE: Another Windows 8 tidbit: File management to get an overhaul

        @voltrarian

        Can't do anything about the interrupted bulk file operations, but if you accidentally drop a file/folder into a mystery location, CTRL-Z can save your bacon. It will pull the moved files back or delete the copied ones as appropriate. IIRC, there are some limitations if the target and source drives differ, but it's at least a partial parachute.
        heyitstodd
      • RE: Another Windows 8 tidbit: File management to get an overhaul

        @voltrarian

        "You've never moved a folder with thousands of files to another folder or computer, and after waiting 1+ hours, have it fail in the middle? (due to network or bad file or other issues...) And then not know which files were moved and which were not? And then have no way to resume the process, and instead have to scream at Windows because it has to waste your time doing it again and that you have to babysit it for hours?"

        -------

        I totally agree with you. Bulk file copying through Windows Explorer is horrible and has a lot of room for improvement. That's why I use robocopy for most bulk copy tasks. If I need features beyond what robocopy is capable of (usually VSS), I use ViceVersa Pro.
        scottwsx96
    • RE: Another Windows 8 tidbit: File management to get an overhaul

      @voltrarian<br>>Or how about accidently moving a file or folder in with the <br>>mousepad on a high resolution system, and not know just WTF <br>>happened, and where that file or folder went? <br>Next time you do that, try hitting <ctrl-Z>. Where it gets bad is when you don't realize that you just did that and come back later looking for the file or folder which got moved. That's where file-indexing starts to look pretty attractive.
      LesN
    • What is needed is a new file system and a new file manager, or a new OS

      Linux has many different types of file systems available, optimized for whatever job you have to do. There is no issue moving or copying files, whether from the command line or from a file manager. If you need a different file system, you can reformat the volume. If you do not like the file manager, you can install another one.

      This is only a problem for Windows because Microsoft has only three types of file systems: NTFS, FAT, and FAT32. They all have major shortcomings. Windows has only one disk management tool. Windows has only one file manager. All of their tools are optimized for marketability to the under-user, not the super-user.

      Linux was built around a streamlined kernel and file system and it has only gotten better with time. Windows will never catch up, which is why Linux has the server market locked up compared to Microsoft.

      It is good that they want to improve, but really, it is past time for Windows to either molt or die.
      cheryljosie
  • I hope, given all the low level changes...

    That finally we get rid of the 255 path/filename limit. Seriously - having a 3TB drive that can only safely and consistently have paths 255 characters deep because of some old, crufty Windows 98 limitation is insane.<br>There is the UNC extension \\?\ but it's extremely inconsistent (ie: doesn't work at all in the System.IO File class in .Net).<br>Also, finally - can we get rid of 'prohibited characters' in file/path names? There only needs to be two at the VERY most (':' and '\') and even THESE don't need to be prohibited if they put in a system-wide file/path name exception marker like Unix and Linux has had since the 1960s.
    TheWerewolf
    • RE: Another Windows 8 tidbit: File management to get an overhaul

      @TheWerewolf,

      Agreed.
      bmonsterman
    • Amen. There is nothing more annoying than me having

      to dumb down my file names when I need to send a copy to a Windows user.
      baggins_z
    • RE: Another Windows 8 tidbit: File management to get an overhaul

      @TheWerewolf
      >>Also, finally - can we get rid of 'prohibited characters' in file/path names? There only needs to be two at the VERY most (':' and '\') and even THESE don't need to be prohibited if they put in a system-wide file/path name exception marker like Unix and Linux has had since the 1960s.

      Not likely to happen for at least a couple more major iterations of the Windows core, IMO. For better or worse, MS is dogmatic about backwards compatibility. Until their virtualization environment is fully mature, I don't see them changing something that fundamental. If only they'd kept developing Cairo, perhaps the whole drive letter and path paradigm would be dying a deserved death.
      heyitstodd
    • I agree 100%

      That 255 character path limit is so annoying! That's why I use total commander to bypass those error messages. Any word on it Windows 8 has removed this limitation?
      danwat1234
    • Nope, still the limitation is there

      I installed windows 8 Pro 64-bit, final version. No change from windows 7, the limitation in Windows Explorer is still there. I can still use Total Commander to bypass the issue.
      danwat1234
  • RE: Another Windows 8 tidbit: File management to get an overhaul

    Explorer was always a problem for me if you tried to copy a large # of files, taking potentially hours, and if one was locked or something, it would just abort.
    deathjazz