If Microsoft goes through with the threat to ribbon-ize Explorer

If Microsoft goes through with its threat to foist the atrocious ribbon on the flawed but useful and usable Explorer, I have insurance.

You can install Far Manager, a text-mode Win32/Win64 clone of the classic Norton Commander. It’s fast, it’s functional, it’s easy to use, and it looks just like you remember the old DOS classic that you haven’t used since the day you upgraded from DOS to something else, whether that was OS/2 or Windows 95. But it supports long filenames and it’s a true 32- or 64-bit application.

If you prefer a GUI application, there’s Free Commander, which resembles the Windows GUI version of Norton Commander.

I never used either program all that much, since I switched to OS/2 about two months after I bought my first PC. But either one packs a lot of power that Explorer windows don’t. It might not be a bad idea to install one or the other of them and start getting used to them again. To me, all the ribbon does is hide functionality and make it harder for experienced users to find the functionality they’ve been using for the last 16 years. Well, and it also makes it harder for inexperienced users to learn and become experienced users. You used to be able to learn hotkeys and other shortcuts by flipping through the menus, but no longer. So basically ribbons treat users like beginners for time and eternity. Oh, and they help sell Dummies books, since we’re all dummies again. Microsoft gets no direct benefit from Dummies books, but the authors who write those books will write other things that encourage people to upgrade to the newest version of Windows so they’ll need those new books.

It used to be that Microsoft could sell new versions of its software by fixing bugs and adding a few features, but Windows XP SP2 and Office 2003 hurt that strategy. They had all the functionality most users needed, if not more, and they were stable.

I don’t know that they made the conscious decision to completely re-do the user interface of Windows and Office to force everyone to re-learn and get pundits jumping up and down about the new software so they could sell lots of books, but that’s pretty much what we have now. And to a degree, at least, it seems to be working.

Rather than fight the ribbon, I’ll just switch to tools that assume I know what a file is and what I can do with it. I always have two or three command prompts open at any given time anyway, so having a Norton Commander clone running as well isn’t much of a stretch.

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One thought on “If Microsoft goes through with the threat to ribbon-ize Explorer

  • April 9, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    I like Q-Dir, a 4-screen explorer that remembers what you had open the last time.

    Click my name for my review of it.

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