Microsoft Wants You to Relive the ’90s with Its Windows 3.0 File Manager (Runs on Windows 10!)

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Apr 9, 2018
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Microsoft has released the source code for the original Windows File Manager that was introduced with Windows 3.0 a couple of decades back. It was notably the operating system’s first flagship graphical user interface (GUI) that replaced MS-DOS command line, enabling Windows users to perform copy, delete and search functions. After serving Windows between 1990 through 1999, File Manager was eventually replaced with Explorer as the primary navigational interface.

As the Windows 3.1 turned 26 last week, the Redmond Windows maker is up for a nostalgic trip that will take you down the memory lane. Microsoft has made some changes to the original version that was run on a 16-bit operating system to make it work on your glitzy, shiny, sometimes-annoying Windows 10.

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The source code is available on GitHub (via TheVerge), and is being maintained by Microsoft’s Craig Wittenberg.

As we get ready for the next big release of Windows 10 (the Spring Creators Update), it might help Windows fans to take this nostalgic trip with this pixelated relic from the past. Here is the list of features that it supports:

  • OLE drag/drop support
  • control characters (e.g., ctrl+C) map to current short cut (e.g., ctrl+c -> copy) instead of changing drives
  • cut (ctrl+X) followed by paste (ctrl+V) translates into a file move as one would expect
  • left and right arrows in the tree view expand and collapse folders like in the Explorer
  • added context menus in both panes
  • improved the means by which icons are displayed for files
  • F12 runs notepad or notepad++ on the selected file
  • moved the ini file location to %AppData%\Roaming\Microsoft\WinFile
  • File.Search can include a date which limits the files returned to those after the date provided; the output is also sorted by the date instead of by the name
  • File.Search includes an option as to whether to include sub-directories
  • ctrl+K starts a command shell (ConEmu if installed) in the current directory; shfit+ctrl+K starts an elevated command shell (cmd.exe only)
  • File.Goto (ctrl+G) enables one to type a few words of a path and get a list of directories; selecting one changes to that directory. Only drive c: is indexed.
  • UI shows reparse points (e.g., Junction points) as such
    added simple forward / back navigation (probably needs to be improved)
  • View command has a new option to sort by date forward (oldest on top); normal date sorting is newest on top

For details on changes made to the original version, head over to GitHub.

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