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Microsoft is getting closer to completely modernizing Windows 10's native applications

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Image: iStockphoto.com/littlehenrabi

It’s been a while, I know, but you may recall that two years back, in the article Should Microsoft replace the rest of Windows’ native applications with modern apps? , I said that Microsoft had replaced the majority of Windows’ native applications with what used to be called modern apps. (Microsoft is now calling them Trusted Windows Store apps.) At the time I asked, “Should Microsoft finish the job in Windows 10?”

It’s been slow going, but Microsoft is getting closer with the recent release of the Creators Update. Hidden in its depths is a preliminary version of a modernized File Explorer, which shows that Microsoft is heading toward the world of Trusted Windows Store apps. Let’s take a closer look.

Looking back

When I wrote that article in May of 2015, we were close to the actual release of Windows 10, which came on July 29th. By that time, we already knew that Internet Explorer was being replaced by Microsoft Edge in the upcoming release. Other modernized native apps included Cortana, a completely new feature that replaced the old Windows Search, a redone Calculator, and a host of others, listed in Table A.

Table A

Table A

Table A

The holdouts at that time were Notepad, WordPad, and Paint.

Other native applications

Over time, we have seen a lot of other minor native applications get converted to a modern UI. For example, Calendar, Alarms and Clock, and Sticky Notes all have a modern UI now.

New app UIs in Creators Update

As I showed you in last week’s article , Windows Defender finally has a modernized UI and a new name: Windows Defender Security Center. That article offered a brief tour and then focused on the new Device Performance & Health component. As I mentioned, this component also includes a feature called Fresh Start, which essentially allows you to perform a clean install of Windows 10 while leaving your data intact. I’m currently working on an article covering the Fresh Start feature, so stay tuned.

And then there’s Paint 3D, which appears to be an update to the old Paint, yet it’s not—because Paint still exists in Windows 10 right alongside the new version. Having both is actually a good thing. If you simply want to edit an existing image or create a new one using techniques you are already familiar with, Paint’s your man. However, if you want to explore a new way to create images, you’ll enjoy getting to know Paint 3D, as it allows you to create or modify 3D objects, easily change color or texture, and turn 2D images into 3D images.

I wish Microsoft had modernized more native applications for the Creators Update, but it didn’t. One day, though, Notepad and WordPad will make the jump.

SEE: Microsoft Surface Laptop: The smart person’s guide

A preliminary version of the File Explorer app

Now, as I mentioned, the Creators Update contains a preliminary version of a modernized File Explorer. It’s definitely incomplete and not very stable, but it is exciting to see Microsoft moving in that direction. Microsoft isn’t publicizing this preliminary version and the only reason I know about it is due to some enterprising hacker types who pointed it out on the Web.

As I mentioned this new File Explorer is hidden in the depths of the Creators Update. To unearth it, you need to create a shortcut that points to an odd-looking Explorer shell command, as shown here and in Figure A:

explorer shell:AppsFolderc5e2524a-ea46-4f67-841f-6a9465d9d515_cw5n1h2txyewy!App

Figure A

Figure A

Figure A

To get to the preliminary version of the File Explorer app, create this shortcut.

When you launch the shortcut, you’ll see the File Explorer app, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

Figure B

Figure B

The File Explorer app shows promise but isn’t really functional.

While the app has multiple file management features, most of them do not work correctly or they cause the app to lock up. However, you can use the app to navigate your folders, sort files, change views, and search for files. Give it a shot: You have nothing to lose.

More Windows how-to’s

What’s your take?

Would you like to see more of the old native Windows applications replaced with new modern apps? What do you think of the preliminary version of the File Explorer app? Share your thoughts with fellow TechRepublic members.

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