Published: Wed, April 11, 2018
Technology | By Russell Knight

Microsoft releases source code for its 1990s File Manager

Microsoft releases source code for its 1990s File Manager

The 90s called and want their file manager back.

Microsoft's official GitHub repository is now host to the full WinFile source code, updated and modified from the Windows NT 4 release for compatibility with more recent Windows releases - including the ability to compile and execute the tool on 64-bit Windows installations for the first time.

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Microsoft has revived and open sourced the original File Manager first introduced with Windows 3.0 in 1990, tweaking it so it runs on Windows 10. It was shipped with Windows 3.0 till Windows NT 4.0 and Windows ME.

However, Microsoft typically staggers the roll-out its blockbuster updates to alleviate strain on its servers, so it might be a few more days until the new software drops for you.

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File Manager at its debut was a huge improvement over the MS-DOS command-line interface (CLI) used to copy, move, open, delete, search and so on, but basically died with the introduction of Windows Explorer in Windows 95. Whichever mode you prefer, this release brings a taste of the 1990s to 2018. I don't believe that either version has much in the way of high-DPI awareness, so it may not be tremendously usable on high resolution screens. While File Manager naturally looks terribly dated and cluttered by today's standards, some features, like split panes or MDI could still be useful in the modern computing age of phones and tablets. Aside from overall ugliness of the thing-the fonts, the icons, the heavy-handed faux 3D buttons, it's all awful to look at-it's the near-total non-use of the right mouse button that really shows its age. Which I'd love to test, if only I still had a floppy drive.

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