Windows 8 is going to come with lots of changes. Probably the most useful change would be the inclusion of ribbon bar interface in Windows Explorer just like in Microsoft Office 2010. If you cannot wait for Windows 8 but are eager to try the new Windows Explorer, then you can enjoy a Windows 8 style Explorer right inside Windows 7 using the Better Explorer project.
Better Explorer is an open source project which strives to bring the new look of Windows Explorer in Windows 8 to older versions of Windows including Windows 7. Although it works on most of the older versions of Windows, it is designed for Windows 7 and works best in it. It features the new ribbon interface that you would find in the Explorer of Windows 8. It also has a tab feature using which you can open multiple tabs inside the same Better Explorer window.
You can download the Better Explorer setup program from its CodePlex website. Now it has its own website, but when I tried to open it, I got the message that web hosting bandwidth had exceeded. The Better Explorer project has been designed using the Microsoft .NET framework and so you must have it installed in Windows before you can use it. You can get Microsoft .NET 4.0 Framework from http://mcaf.ee/3gxo5. After the installation of Better Explorer, you can start it from its Start Menu shortcut.
The ribbon interface of Better Explorer takes a little time getting used to. As you select an item like partition, folder or file, the related tools appear in the ribbon bar. For example, if you click on an image file, you would see Image Tools in the ribbon bar. If you click on a partition like C:, then it would show you disk tools in the ribbon bar. You can also open more than one folder in the same Better Explorer window using the tabbed interface which works more like the tabs in a web browser like Mozilla Firefox or Chrome. To open a new tab, you can click on the New Tab button in the Tabs section of the ribbon bar or you can use the Ctrl + T keyboard shortcut.
By default, Better Explorer does not become the default shell for Windows i.e., it does not replace Windows Explorer. So you can open both Better Explorer and Windows Explorer side by side. But if you fell in love with Better Explorer, then you can set Better Explorer to be your default shell. To do this click on the File button on the top-left corner and select Options → Shell and you would see many options for Better Explorer. Here you can place a checkmark in the Make Better Explorer default viewer to make it default viewer for folders. Although this does not fully replace the Windows Explorer. All this does is launch Better Explorer when you use the Win + E shortcut or click on the Windows Explorer shortcut in the taskbar.
Under the options, you can also choose the color of ribbon bar from silver, blue and black. You can choose the interface language from a long list of supported languages. You can set the default folder that shows up when you start Better Explorer.
If you look at it, the ribbon bar just makes those deeply hidden commands, easily accessible to us through the graphical interface. But thats the whole purpose of the GUI and Better Explorer achieves it successfully. The Better Explorer project is still in the beta stage and it would be worth watching what the final release version brings to us.
You can download Better Explorer from : http://better-explorer.com/.