Explaining File Management In Microsoft Windows 8 OS

In Tuesday blog post on Building Windows 8 blog, Steven Sinofsky published, president of the Windows and Windows Live Division, writes, "We wanted to do an early Windows 8 post about one of the most used features, and one we have not improved substantially in a long time. With the increasing amount of local storage […]

In Tuesday blog post on Building Windows 8 blog, Steven Sinofsky published, president of the Windows and Windows Live Division, writes, "We wanted to do an early Windows 8 post about one of the most used features, and one we have not improved substantially in a long time. With the increasing amount of local storage measured in terabytes, containing photos (in multiple formats and very large files), music, and video, these common operations are being taxed in new ways. These changes, along with consistent feedback about what we could improve, have inspired us to take a fresh look and redesign these operations."

The post is authored by Ben Truelove (designer), Matt Duignan (UX researcher), Jon Class and Ilana Smith (program managers).

In the post the folks said that "Our previous post about the new copy experience in Windows 8 generated a lot of questions and comments about the new "Choose Files" dialog for resolving file name collisions. Based on the level of interest, we thought it would be fun to share some of the design iterations and our usability testing that led us to this design."

In the implemented design, there are two levels of control when acting on file name collisions (or "conflicts").

  • The primary experience is a simplified, one-click, bulk management of all conflicts, offering "Replace all" or "Skip all." We call this the "Simple Conflict Resolution dialog."
  • There is also an option to enter the secondary experience which offers more information and more fine-grained control. This is the "Detailed Conflict Resolution dialog."

The team writes "In Windows 8, we want you to be able to get stuff done more quickly and efficiently--"fast and fluid" are key design words around Windows 8 for all of our designs (for touch, mouse/keyboard or both together). The next major design iteration looked at ways that we could follow on from the cohesive copy progress experience, bring queued-up conflicts together into a single dialog, and provide you with the ability to manage them in a more streamlined way," the team stated.

The team said that "the idea of optimizing for the "Replace all" or "Skip all" choice was introduced. Most of the time, you know exactly what you're copying and why it is conflicting, and you can make a simple choice about what action to take."

For cases where you need more information or finer-grained control, we decided to disclose information in "tiers" of greater detail.

Microsoft has settled on a one-tier approach towards the file conflict dialog. See the screenshot below (click to blow up):

Read the full Designing the Windows 8 file name collision experience post.