File Explorer

Windows Explorershell extensionexplorer.exeExplorerComputerFile Explorer / Windows ExplorerFile Explorer toolMy ComputerReactOS Explorershell handler
File Explorer, previously known as Windows Explorer, is a file manager application that is included with releases of the Microsoft Windows operating system from Windows 95 onwards.wikipedia
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Microsoft Windows

WindowsPCWin
File Explorer, previously known as Windows Explorer, is a file manager application that is included with releases of the Microsoft Windows operating system from Windows 95 onwards.
Windows 95 also introduced a redesigned, object oriented user interface, replacing the previous Program Manager with the Start menu, taskbar, and Windows Explorer shell.

File Manager (Windows)

File ManagerWindows File Manager
Windows Explorer was first included with Windows 95 as a replacement for File Manager, which came with all versions of Windows 3.x operating systems.
Although File Manager was included in Windows 95 and Windows NT 4.0 and some later versions, Windows Explorer was introduced and used as the primary file manager, with file management via a two-pane view different from that of File Manager, and a single-pane view obtained by clicking a "My Computer" icon.

Windows shell

shellthe charmsCharms
Collectively, these features are known as the Windows shell.
It is intimately identified with File Explorer, a Windows component that can browse the whole shell namespace.

Windows ME

ME8.0Millennium
However, such a previewer can be enabled in Windows ME through the use of folder customization templates.
Microsoft also updated the graphical user interface, shell features, and Windows Explorer, with some of those first introduced in Windows 2000, which had been released as a business-oriented operating system seven months earlier.

Windows key

Windows buttonWindows logo key key
There is also a shortcut key combination: Windows key + E. Successive versions of Windows (and in some cases, Internet Explorer) introduced new features and capabilities, removed other features, and generally progressed from being a simple file system navigation tool into a task-based file management system.
opens Windows Explorer with folder pane on left side of window.

Windows 98

98Windows 98 Second Edition98 SE
With the release of the Windows Desktop Update (packaged with Internet Explorer 4 as an optional component, and included in Windows 98), Windows Explorer became "integrated" with Internet Explorer, most notably with the addition of navigation arrows (back and forward) for moving between recently visited directories, as well as Internet Explorer's Favorites menu.
The Windows 98 shell integrates all of the enhancements from Windows Desktop Update, an Internet Explorer 4 component, such as the Quick Launch toolbar, deskbands, Active Desktop, Channels, ability to minimize foreground windows by clicking their button on the taskbar, single click launching, Back and Forward navigation buttons, favorites, and address bar in Windows Explorer, image thumbnails, folder infotips and Web view in folders, and folder customization through HTML-based templates.

Windows 95

95Microsoft Windows 95Windows
File Explorer, previously known as Windows Explorer, is a file manager application that is included with releases of the Microsoft Windows operating system from Windows 95 onwards. Windows Explorer was first included with Windows 95 as a replacement for File Manager, which came with all versions of Windows 3.x operating systems.
The previous File Manager program was replaced by Windows Explorer.

File manager

orthodox file managerfile managementfile browser
File Explorer, previously known as Windows Explorer, is a file manager application that is included with releases of the Microsoft Windows operating system from Windows 95 onwards.
File Explorer (Windows Explorer)

Control Panel (Windows)

Control PanelWindows Control PanelControl Panel applet
While "Windows Explorer" or "File Explorer" is a term most commonly used to describe the file management aspect of the operating system, the Explorer also houses the operating system's search functionality and File Type associations (based on filename extensions), and is responsible for displaying the desktop icons, the Start Menu, the Taskbar, and the Control Panel.

Windows XP

XPWindows XP SP2XP SP2
There were significant changes made to Windows Explorer in Windows XP, both visually and functionally.
A "common tasks" list was added, and Windows Explorer's sidebar was updated to use a new task-based design with lists of common actions; the tasks displayed are contextually relevant to the type of content in a folder (e.g. a folder with music displays offers to play all the files in the folder, or burn them to a CD).

Shortcut (computing)

shortcutshortcutsfile shortcut
File shortcuts can also store comments which are displayed as a tooltip when the mouse hovers over the shortcut.
Microsoft Windows .lnk files operate as Windows Explorer extensions, rather than file system extensions.

Filename extension

file extensionextensionextensions
While "Windows Explorer" or "File Explorer" is a term most commonly used to describe the file management aspect of the operating system, the Explorer also houses the operating system's search functionality and File Type associations (based on filename extensions), and is responsible for displaying the desktop icons, the Start Menu, the Taskbar, and the Control Panel.
The default behavior of File Explorer, the file browser provided with Microsoft Windows, is for filename extensions to not be displayed.

Program Manager

PMShell
Explorer could be accessed by double-clicking the new My Computer desktop icon, or launched from the new Start Menu that replaced the earlier Program Manager.
In later versions of Microsoft Windows, starting with Windows 95 and Windows NT 4.0, Program Manager was replaced by Windows Explorer as the default shell.

Windows Desktop Update

With the release of the Windows Desktop Update (packaged with Internet Explorer 4 as an optional component, and included in Windows 98), Windows Explorer became "integrated" with Internet Explorer, most notably with the addition of navigation arrows (back and forward) for moving between recently visited directories, as well as Internet Explorer's Favorites menu.
The Windows Desktop Update included features such as Active Desktop and tight IE4 integration with the Windows Explorer.

Microsoft PowerToys

PowerToyPowerToysMicrosoft Powertoy
The Search Companion can be disabled in favor of the classic search pane used in Windows 2000 by using the Tweak UI applet from Microsoft's PowerToys for Windows XP, or by manually editing the registry.
Command Prompt Here - To start a command prompt from any folder in Windows Explorer by right-clicking (native in Windows Vista onwards)

Windows Vista

VistaPlatform UpdateMicrosoft Windows Vista
Windows Explorer in Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 also introduces a new layout.
The most notable visual and functional difference, however, came with Windows Explorer.

Windows Server 2008

2008Server 2008Windows Server "Longhorn
Windows Explorer in Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 also introduces a new layout.
Server Core is a significantly scaled-back installation where no Windows Explorer shell is installed.

Image Mastering API

mastered burning
Support for burning data on DVDs (DVD±R, DVD±R DL, DVD±R RW) in addition to CDs and DVD-RAM using version 2.0 of the Image Mastering API was added.
Windows applications such as Windows Media Player, Windows Media Center, Windows Movie Maker, Windows DVD Maker, and Windows Explorer use IMAPI to create ISO images and "burn" discs.

Breadcrumb (navigation)

breadcrumbbreadcrumbsbread crumb trails
Windows Vista saw the introduction of the breadcrumb bar for easier navigation.
Current file managers including Linux Mint's Nemo, Windows Explorer (from Windows Vista onwards), Finder (for Macintosh operating systems), GNOME's Nautilus, KDE's Dolphin, Xfce's Thunar, MATE's Caja, and SnowBird allow breadcrumb navigation, often replacing or extending an address bar.

Windows Server 2012

2012Server 20122012 Server
The file manager on Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 is renamed File Explorer, and introduces new features such as a redesigned interface incorporating a ribbon toolbar, and a redesigned file operation dialog that displays more detailed progress and allows for file operations to be paused and resumed.
There is also a third installation option that allows some GUI elements such as MMC and Server Manager to run, but without the normal desktop, shell or default programs like File Explorer.

Windows 8

8Windows 8.18 – 64 bit
The file manager on Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 is renamed File Explorer, and introduces new features such as a redesigned interface incorporating a ribbon toolbar, and a redesigned file operation dialog that displays more detailed progress and allows for file operations to be paused and resumed.
Windows Explorer, which has been renamed File Explorer, now includes a ribbon in place of the command bar.

Features new to Windows 7

HomeGroupLibrariesJump Lists
Gadgets are more closely integrated with Windows Explorer, but the gadgets themselves continue to operate in a single process, unlike in Windows Vista where gadgets could operate in multiple processes.

COM Structured Storage

structured storageCompound documentOLE structured storage
The default file tooltip displays file title, author, subject and comments; this metadata may be read from a special NTFS stream, if the file is on an NTFS volume, or from an COM Structured Storage stream, if the file is a structured storage document.
During the beta testing phase of Windows 2000, it included a feature titled Native Structured Storage (NSS) for storage of Structured Storage documents (like the binary Microsoft Office formats and the file Windows Explorer uses to cache thumbnails) with each Stream that makes up a document stored in a separate NTFS data stream.

Special folder

special foldersApplication DataMy Computer
Shell extensions can be in the form of shell extension handlers, toolbars or even namespace extensions that allow certain folders (or even non-filesystem objects such as the images scanned by a scanner) to be presented as a special folder.
Virtual folders do not actually exist on the file system; they are instead presented through Windows Explorer as a tree of folders that the user can navigate.

Ribbon (computing)

ribbonribbonsRibbon interface
The file manager on Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 is renamed File Explorer, and introduces new features such as a redesigned interface incorporating a ribbon toolbar, and a redesigned file operation dialog that displays more detailed progress and allows for file operations to be paused and resumed.
On Windows 8, File Explorer followed suit.