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Microsoft fine-tunes Windows 8 Beta with input from users

Microsoft continues to tinker with Windows 8 even as it finalizes its beta version, acting on suggestions it received from users who have experimented with the Windows 8 Developer Preview.

Among the upgrades touted in the Building Windows 8 blog is a way to resolve file-name collisions during copy and move functions as well as how the system reacts when it is shut down during a copy job and then restarted.

Microsoft says that about 2,200 comments from users of the Developer Preview inspired some of the upgrades, which were made depending on whether the improvements were readily feasible within the overall architecture of Windows 8.

FIRST LOOK: Windows 8 breaks new ground

One change is in how the Windows 8 file system treats files that appear to be identical during copy or move functions, giving users the option to act on all the duplicates or just one depending on whether they are deemed identical or unique.

So if two files match names, size and timestamp, the vast majority of the time they will be duplicates, and both need not be copied or moved; one will do. But users will be presented with a dialog box informing them of the possible duplication and giving them the option to pick one or have both copied.

If both are copied, the name of one will be changed by adding a number to it.

Microsoft says this is among several changes it is making to Developer Preview for inclusion in Windows 8 Beta before it is released sometime next month.

In defining duplicate files, the new file system can match names, file sizes and timestamps, with the latter being defined down to 100 nanoseconds on files in the Windows 7 New Technology File System (NTFS), which is being replaced in Windows 8 by Resilient File System (ReFS).

NTFS vs. ReFS

One main goal of ReFS is to keep data from being corrupted and to keep it available. Another related change: Windows 8 Beta will display a resume button to users when they reboot their machine after it shuts down during a copy job. Rather than simply picking up where it left off, it lets users decide whether that's what they want to do. The reason, according to the blog, is that significant changes might have been made since the copy job was interrupted.

Other tweaks Microsoft highlights in its blog include several to Windows Explorer. One sets the default to minimize the ribbon across the top of the window so if users want it, they have to set it up. This was in response to an apparently large and blunt group protesting that they didn't like the ribbon. Microsoft says it appreciates their opinion but will continue to develop ribbons and urges customers who don't like it to try third-party tools to customize the navigation.

The beta version of Windows 8 will also include a learning tool within the ribbon for users who prefer using hot keys to clicking on ribbon icons. When they click on an icon, a "keytip" drops down, telling what hot key will carry out that function. So, for example, clicking on New Folder within Explorer's ribbon will reveal a keytip that tells the same function can be executed by typing Ctrl + Shift + N. So the ribbon will teach those who don't like the ribbon an alternative method.

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.


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