Windows 11’s major revamp of File Explorer is now present in the latest preview version and actually works – to a point – although it’s hidden away and you must tinker under the hood of the OS to enable it.
This revelation was made by a Windows 11 tester appearing more and more on Twitter these days to share interesting findings hidden behind the scenes of the operating system, namely PhantomOfEarth.
The leaker used ViVeTool (a Windows configuration utility) to enable the revamped File Explorer home page in Windows 11’s new preview build 23419 (which has just been released in the Dev channel).
Yes, this can be enabled. IDs soon! For now here's a video showing off some neat animations, seems like the legendary (/s) purple highlight for items has been replaced pic.twitter.com/51k22tOt1aMarch 22, 2023
As you can see, PhantomOfEarth has a video clip of the new File Explorer showing it in action briefly, which makes for an interesting watch.
Furthermore, the leaker points out that Techosarusrex unearthed the recommendations that’ll appear at the top of the File Explorer home page, highlighting files you might want to have quick access to.
The special appearance for recommended content in the new home page is also present, thanks to @techosarusrex for the screenshot pic.twitter.com/59YheHU2rjMarch 22, 2023
Remember, these are all hidden bits and pieces, and naturally Microsoft has applied a bunch of visible changes to Windows 11 with build 23419. That includes a new USB 4 Settings page that lists connected USB 4 hubs and devices, along with related details to help with troubleshooting any related connectivity issues.
There are minor tweaks elsewhere, such as renaming the ‘Recommended’ section of the Start menu as ‘For you’ (a change we already knew was inbound), and a new way of working for specifying default apps (that we discuss in-depth here).
Analysis: Some interesting glimpses – but be careful peeking under the hood
How are you liking the look of the new File Explorer so far? We have to say, those recommended files are pretty prominently displayed at the top of File Explorer, but this implementation may change to something a bit more subtle down the line. Of course, all of these features are still actually in pre-testing (not yet activated in preview builds), so this is a very early glimpse of the File Explorer overhaul.
Note that even when enabled, File Explorer’s recommendations feature only works for those signed into Azure Active Directory (AAD), as initially, Microsoft is aiming this at business users. That said, it may see a broader rollout to consumers eventually, or at least it’s easy enough to envisage that, particularly as suggestions and recommendations is a path Microsoft seems keen to tread (doubtless bringing AI into the mix as your helper on the desktop longer-term).
It’s also worth mentioning that another big change to File Explorer in the pipeline that you can enable is the previously spotted integrated Photo Gallery. Clearly, there are a lot of changes incoming for this central pillar of the Windows 11 interface.
If you do enable these hidden features, by the way, you can expect some serious glitching (don’t do this on a daily driver PC, for instance). Early previews are unstable by their very nature, let alone with features being unofficially brought into play before they’re ready by messing around with Windows 11’s configuration.