File Explorer has been around for too many years with the current interface, as the application has barely received any major facelifts despite the introduction of new Windows 10 versions.
Aside from being renamed from Windows Explorer to File Explorer, the built-in Windows file manager looks and feels the same as it did in Windows XP, and this is both good and bad overall.
First and foremost, retaining the familiar look of the file manager comes in handy to those who aren’t necessarily interested in looks, as the application still serves its purpose very well despite lacking more advanced functionality.
On the other hand, not getting major facelifts, aside from the new dark theme that’s part of the Window 10 October 2018 Update and whose appearance is rather controversial, means tech-savvy users could consider the file manager outdated and switch to third-party alternatives.
Because File Explorer needs an overhaul in all regards, Microsoft is working on one, and as part of its strategy for a modern push, this is going to land as a completely new file manager that will be UWP-based.
The new File Explorer has been in beta testing for many months already, and Microsoft hasn’t provided any ETA as to when it could get the green light. And judging from how it looks and works right now, it’s pretty clear that the project is far from being finalized.
The UWP File Explorer can be tested by Windows insiders running Windows 10 19H1 builds with a very simple trick, though it goes without saying that it can’t replace the standard file manager just yet.
First of all, head over to the desktop and right-click > New > Shortcut. Next, in the location of the item box, enter the following code:
As an alternative, you can just copy the code here, click the Start menu, and paste it using your keyboard. Double-click the first result to launch the file manager. Also, you can paste this code in the run dialog that shows up when pressing the Windows key + R.
Click Next to advance to the next step, provide any name you want (I suggest something relevant to the app, like “UWP File Explorer”) and then complete the wizard. Once you finalize this process, just launch the application normally as you do with any other shortcut on the desktop.
As you see, the UWP File Explorer lacks even the full functionality of its Win32 sibling. It doesn’t come with a dark theme, but instead it is optimized for the touch, so it features big buttons that can be easily tapped with a finger when running the app on a tablet, for instance.
At certain times, the application feels kind of slow, and although I didn’t experience any crashes during my few minutes with the file manager, several of our readers told me that the UWP File Explorer occasionally shuts down for no clear reason.
Of course, this makes sense given it’s work in progress, but on the other hand, it also raises questions as to when and if Microsoft plans to bring it to all users.
Windows 10 19H1 is projected to be finalized in March and then released to users in April, so Microsoft still has a few months at disposal to refine the experience with the modern file manager. But if I have to guess, I believe this app won’t make it to the next Windows 10 feature update, and Microsoft may even give up on it entirely if the idea doesn’t advance as planned.