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Microsoft unveils file-move changes in Windows 8

Aims to fix comical download/copy 'time to go' estimates

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Microsoft has been throwing out crumbs on forthcoming features for Windows 8, but dodged serving up the main course.

Windows 8 will clean up the system for downloading files to your PC and changing file names, Microsoft has said on its newly launched Building Windows 8 blog.

The successor to Windows 7 will combine file download dialogue boxes into a single box, you'll be able to stop and pause downloads, and rather than trying to estimate how long a download has left to run, the new operating system will instead feature a graph that shows the data transfer speed, transfer rate trend, and how much data is left to transfer.

Discussing the file changes in a video on the Windows 8 blog here – a video that doesn't work in Firefox – Microsoft acknowledged Windows' downloads estimates are something of a joke.

When it comes to re-naming files, Windows users get a dialogue box with thumbnails of files where there is a naming clash – and a check box next to each thumbnail which you can tick to show which files you want to keep.

In keeping with recently established Windows engineering team tradition, Microsoft has justified the changes by quoting telemetry data gathered on Windows PC users' habits.

According to that data, copying, moving, renaming, and deleting files are "far and away the most heavily used features within Windows Explorer" and account for half of all commands.

Microsoft had justified many of the changes in its Internet Explorer 9 web browser based on telemetry data, too; the IE team being part of the Windows group.

The jury is still out on whether such telemetry-sifting is doing Microsoft any good. While IE9's market share is growing, it has failed to arrest IE's overall market slide, now approaching 42 per cent or exceeding 35 per cent, depending on whose numbers you follow.

That means IE is precisely at the point it was in 1998 when it finally nudged past Marc Andreessen's Netscape to become the most widely used browser for the fist time. From then on IE did nothing but march north, consolidating Microsoft's postition as the number-one browser maker – a title it still, just about, holds.

The telemetry data-based changes to Windows 8 that Microsoft has flagged have generated plenty of discussion on the Windows 8 blog, but Microsoft has refrained from talking about the big architectural stuff it has promised and which will have huge implications for how Windows will look and where it will work.

Microsoft is yet to explain how Windows 8 will achieve compatibility with older apps built for x86 not running on ARM; Windows 8 will be the first version of Windows running on ARM to hit tablets. It has also dodged talking about how apps will be built for the tiled interface and how apps will be built for downloaded from Microsoft's Windows Marketplace.

For that, you'll still have to wait for Microsoft's Build conference next month. ®

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