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The ribbonized Windows Explorer still offers the filtering tools available in its predecessor. It also greatly simplilfies the views available. Those two icons in the lower right corner allow you to switch between list and icon views.
If you're a power user, here is one example that should win you over to the ribbonized Windows Explorer immediately. Sometimes you need to see file name extensions, but most of the time you want them turned off. In the Windows 8 Explorer, it takes two clicks to show extensions: one to switch to the View tab, a second to select this check box, and one more click to hide extensions when you're done. Contrast that with 10 clicks to accomplish the same task in Windows 7.
For my money, the new Task Manager is the single greatest improvement in the new Windows 8 desktop. Besides having a cleaner, more readable design, it also consolidates useful details that used to be scattered in other locations. In addition to seeing how much memory is in use, for example, this Performance tab tells you how many physical DIMMs are installed and what clock speed they're running at.