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Microsoft teases a big File Explorer update for Windows 11

According to a new hint from Microsoft and sources familiar with the company’s internal plans, File Explorer will be receiving a major update on Windows 11 later this year. In doing so, the company would be making its first serious attempt to make the file manager more “modern,” bringing it in line with the design of Windows 11 and enhancing its integration with Microsoft 365.

Microsoft has quietly confirmed today that it is moving File Explorer to the WinAppSDK platform as part of a major update to the application. This was offered as a teaser in a WinUI community call that lasted an hour (web-based meetup for talking about issues in the programming world).

Microsoft has announced in today’s conference call that File Explorer will soon be relocating to Software Development Kit for Windows-Based Applications potential benefits include enhanced compatibility with WinUI 3, access to additional APIs, and more.

File Explorer WinAppSDK update
File Explorer will be available on WinAppSDK, as confirmed by Microsoft. You won’t see any major changes as a result of this update, which will roll out soon. Microsoft provided the image. Thewindowsfan.com screenshot

The Windows App SDK is not intended to be used in place of or as a replacement for preexisting Windows app types like.NET (including Windows Forms and WPF) and desktop Win32 with C . There won’t be a new version of File Explorer written from scratch. Rather, it functions more like a library, allowing for integration with common APIs and WinUI 3.

In short, this might make it easier for the File Explorer to use WinUI 3 features, and it might lead to a major redesign in the future. Worries have been raised, however, that the Windows App SDK may increase stability issues in File Explorer. It’s been noted that modern components like XAML and others take longer to load than do the more conventional Win32 UIs.

WinAppSDK Explorer
During the A/B testing phase, users will see a new version of File Explorer that features a pizza icon to help them tell it apart from the current version of Explorer. Thewindowsfan.com screenshot

This new File Explorer built on the Windows App SDK will be made available to Windows Insiders in the coming weeks. Since Microsoft isn’t starting from scratch with File Explorer, you shouldn’t expect any major changes right off the bat. However, when using Windows App SDK, users of Explorer will see a pizza icon in the menu bar.

During the same hour-long call with developers, Microsoft confirmed that File Explorer would be receiving “big updates.” However, the Microsoft design team has stated that they are collaborating closely with the File Explorer team’s key developers to make the most of the update.

Notable apps that utilize Microsoft’s WinAppSDK include Phone Link and PowerToys.

What to expect in File Explorer revamp

Because of Windows 11’s secret tools, We have a good idea of how File Explorer could look.. According to rumors, the new default homepage for File Explorer will combine the advantages of using a local file manager with those of using Microsoft 365.

File Explorer
Images of the rumored new File Explorer design have surfaced, courtesy of TheWindowsFan.com.

On the File Explorer homepage, for instance, you’ll find a “recommended” files feed that pulls in suggestions from Microsoft 365. Changes to the look of the toolbar, buttons, context menus, properties window, and other windows that pop up are indicated in the preview builds.

Getting these updates out to beta testers is still a ways off, but we don’t expect it to happen soon.

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