Microsoft: 22% of Windows 8 users keep Explorer ribbon expanded

When Microsoft first announced several months ago that the Explorer feature in Windows 8 would have a "ribbon" user interface on top that would allow people to see and access more features, the reaction was decidedly mixed. Some Windows fans felt that the ribbon UI made Explorer look and feel "bloated" while others welcomed the idea of having more access to features that normally would be hidden.

However users might feel about the Explorer ribbon, the release of the Consumer Preview version of Windows 8 a month ago exposed the new design to a much bigger audience. While the final verdict is still to be determined, the official Microsoft Build Windows 8 Twitter page posted up an interesting statistic about how Consumer Preview users interact with the ribbon UI.

The message states, "Windows 8 CP usage stat -- in 22.5% the Explorer ribbon is expanded (closed was the default) and kept that way."

So what does this mean? It would appear that a sizable fraction of Windows 8 Consumer Preview users actually like the ribbon UI so much they want to keep it exposed all the time rather than hide it. It will be interesting to see how more users react to the interface when the final version of Windows 8 is released later this year.

Image via Microsoft

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41 Comments

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Legit not touching this OS unless I can get rid of all traces of that monstrosity. Minimalism is the key, for a relatively experienced user this "ribbon" is just pointless UI bloat.

I really don't use Explorer that often, as the Apps I use access the content without me needing to remember the hierarchical structure I created. Shortcuts to things are just a poor workaround imo.

Good to see the data though!

I would keep it expanded if it would take less space. I would definately prefer to keep it expanded.

I don't understand why the ribbon needs to be so big. I hate it for this reason alone.

Looks ugly in my explorer window when I'm browsing thru the HDD but I'm getting used to it. And yes it is very handy.

expand it bu default MS most people wont know unless you sure them. The same goes for the copy/move/delete dialogue. The task manager i understand

I must admit when I first saw the ribbon (in Office?) I hated it , but now I use it quite a lot and I'm getting used to it!

.. and I'm an old wrinkly (59 last week .. ) so if I can handle it , I'm damn sure you young whipper-snappers can ...

There was nothing wrong with the simple, customizable toolbar of XP and it wasn't tiny like the Quick Access Toolbar with 16x16 icons. Anyone could add the commands he wanted, remove stuff he doesn't need. Problem solved. Why MS chose to complicate it so much and distribute commands across tabs in ribbons and massive wasted space to the right on every ribbon tab plus reduced vertical height. There was nothing wrong with menus either. Keyboard usability of the ribbon is pretty awful compared to menus IMHO. Thankfully there's Classic Shell to restore a sane customizable toolbar exactly the way you want and keep the Ribbon minimized.

xpclient said,
There was nothing wrong with the simple, customizable toolbar of XP and it wasn't tiny like the Quick Access Toolbar with 16x16 icons. Anyone could add the commands he wanted, remove stuff he doesn't need. Problem solved. Why MS chose to complicate it so much and distribute commands across tabs in ribbons and massive wasted space to the right on every ribbon tab plus reduced vertical height. There was nothing wrong with menus either. Keyboard usability of the ribbon is pretty awful compared to menus IMHO. Thankfully there's Classic Shell to restore a sane customizable toolbar exactly the way you want and keep the Ribbon minimized.

Sigh what people on this site seem to keep forgetting is that the majority of computer users are not savvy enough to understand the options available and how to use the outdated menu system. The ribbon brings options to them, they didn't know existed.
I'm quite comfortable with using a PC, but still find the ribbon so easy to use and if its in your way, add a click and hide it, big deal.

Ricardo Dawkins said,

What?..so, someone stole your XP? Can't you buy it on ebay or something?
hahahaha

Trouble comprehending English much?

So does Vista and 7 if you don't turn off the customer experience improvement setting. (Don't remember it being in XP and below but wouldn't be surprised)

Odd, I really couldn't care less that 22% wipe their butt with their left hand. No one is bothered that Windows 8 apparently sends this type of usage data back to Microsoft? What other data does it report? How often?

Salgoth said,
Odd, I really couldn't care less that 22% wipe their butt with their left hand. No one is bothered that Windows 8 apparently sends this type of usage data back to Microsoft? What other data does it report? How often?

When you install Windows 8 CP, Microsoft will ask whether you want to send back data for them or not (for statistics/research purpose)

You can choose to disable sending data if you wanted to

Salgoth said,
Odd, I really couldn't care less that 22% wipe their butt with their left hand. No one is bothered that Windows 8 apparently sends this type of usage data back to Microsoft? What other data does it report? How often?

So you never read the "do you wish to participate in the microsoft customer experience" dialog when it pops up?.... it asks you if you want to do that kind of stuff or not... this isn't some big behind the scenes mystery

Salgoth said,
Odd, I really couldn't care less that 22% wipe their butt with their left hand. No one is bothered that Windows 8 apparently sends this type of usage data back to Microsoft? What other data does it report? How often?

It reports all kinds of things. Steven Sinofsky's Building Windows blog post talks at great length about what sort of telemetry data the collect on those systems who agree to participate in the customer experience improvement program.

What is really funny is when you look at the same data from win7 development.

A REALLY funny one which led to combining Quick launch and Taskbar into Super Bar, was that something around 30% of all windows users would close all their apps and re-open them if they got out of order for some reason, like an app crash or a shell crash which caused the items to be laid out in process id order instead of the order in which they're opened.

It's a good thing to participate, then you can ensure you're usage patterns become a part of the aggregate statistics on which, Microsoft base their decisions.

This is why I never get those 'wait until sp1' people. They are purposely keeping Microsoft in the dark as to how THEY want windows to work, hoping that someone with a crystal ball can help MS fix the issues they have with something they won't even use.

I consider the customer experience improvement program and beta participation as ensuring I get the products suited for me when they launch, not at some indeterminate time when a service pack or update is released.

I think I'm spoiling those numbers - I hate the explorer ribbon, but it is expanded because it provides more functionality, and there is no alternative.

aristofeles said,
I think I'm spoiling those numbers - I hate the explorer ribbon, but it is expanded because it provides more functionality, and there is no alternative.

Why don't you use the quick accesss area more instead of the ribbon? It sounds like people have totally forgotten about it and that you can add all the commands to it that you want.

Being a sort of 'new age' user, I have always liked ribbon. I used to loathe Microsoft Office like anything till version 2003. Menus, then sub-Menus, then sub-sub-Menus, and so on.

After the arrival of Office 2007, I had found Office to be so wonderfully easy to use for the first time. I didn't require to dig into menus. All major settings or options were 'visible' in separate tabs.

IMO, Windows 8's ribbon is also a pleasure to use.
78% users keep it collapsed, yes, but most of the people who are using this CP are IT Pros or more advanced users. Generally speaking, they have always been a bit averse to change, so, the 22% statistic is quite a significant number of these folks who more often than not, have a thankless job to deal with [& I am one of them too].

It would be interesting to see how much time the PC users spend in Metro apps, compared to being in desktop mode.

Neobond said,
I leave it closed by default

I'm an open guy, but that's because I like to see toolbars at the top of my classic desktop windows.
It's how I was raised.

Is this a good sign or a bad sign?

It's good that they're thinking about optimising the UI for mouse navigation.

It's bad that they're talking about such a triviality - I want bigger optimizations.

22% of users keeping it expanded also means there are 78% of users who keep it collapsed. It's hard to draw a conclusion whether expanding it is a good thing when there's such a large disparity between user groups.

Bioran said,
22% of users keeping it expanded also means there are 78% of users who keep it collapsed. It's hard to draw a conclusion whether expanding it is a good thing when there's such a large disparity between user groups.

what about the portion that uses it but keeps it collapsed when they dont?

Bioran said,
there are 78% of users who keep it collapsed..

Which REALLY means 78% of users hate it enough to turn it off and 22% haven't figured out how to turn if off, don't use explorer regularly, or don't care...

This article really spins this statistic badly, doesn't it?

Aergan said,
I think they could compact it slightly but I agree, default should be expanded.
Agreed. Better for the user experience. The user will seek to compact it, instead of expanding it.

x-byte said,
Agreed. Better for the user experience. The user will seek to compact it, instead of expanding it.

This is your opinion.
What Microsoft are presenting is the aggregate statistic. If only 22% leave it open, then guess what, fact based decision making says it's closed by default, on install.

I think they'd better off leaving it open by default - there's a lot of useful commands people might need on there, but they won't realise because it's closed. If someone more technical minded or keyboard shortcut dependent doesn't want them, they're far more likely to know how to collapse it.

I think XP's Explorer was WAY better because you could actually CUSTOMIZE it! THAT was what Windows strong point was until Vista came out. Now it's a massive toolbar with mostly stuff I don't need, it uses up twice the vertical space that it should and it's still difficult to actually click on items since they're not actual squares but a [insert word for images that are not evenly distributed]. I'm sticking with XP and it's "out-dated" competence.

JAB Creations said,
I think XP's Explorer was WAY better because you could actually CUSTOMIZE it! THAT was what Windows strong point was until Vista came out. Now it's a massive toolbar with mostly stuff I don't need, it uses up twice the vertical space that it should and it's still difficult to actually click on items since they're not actual squares but a [insert word for images that are not evenly distributed]. I'm sticking with XP and it's "out-dated" competence.

Except you can customize the Windows 8 explorer how you want without using the ribbon. The quick access area in the top left corner of the window supports adding and removing all explorer commands to it however you want and in whatever order you want. That access area can also be placed under the ribbon if you don't want it in the top corner of the window. I also think it looks better below personally.

Thus your argument of customization is null when it comes to the Windows 8 version. It's there, you can do it and you don't have to use the ribbon at all.

With a little tiny dinky toolbar that's like 18 pixels in height? THAT is too difficult to click on, XP's toolbars were perfect except for the fact that you couldn't put text labels to the right of icons.

YOUR response is null and void because XP's GUI STILL conquers Vista, 7 AND 8's "GUI" and I don't sit around all day playing video games, I actually use my computer for production.

JAB Creations said,
With a little tiny dinky toolbar that's like 18 pixels in height? THAT is too difficult to click on, XP's toolbars were perfect except for the fact that you couldn't put text labels to the right of icons.

YOUR response is null and void because XP's GUI STILL conquers Vista, 7 AND 8's "GUI" and I don't sit around all day playing video games, I actually use my computer for production.

You're joking right? Windows XP beats windows 7 inteface? You must not be running 7 in an aero environment its leaps and bounds above XP, and yes I am a network admin and use windows for work all day.

I have Aero for XP and it looks great!

I don't have to install third party software to restore the classic start menu.

I have single-click buttons in Windows Explorer that takes three-clicks to do in 7.

I have my Windows Explorer toolbars customized because XP allows me to right-click and customize.

I get actual work done because XP's customization allows me to work optimally.

Edited by xendrome, Mar 24 2012, 12:03am :

JAB Creations said,
I think XP's Explorer was WAY better because you could actually CUSTOMIZE it! THAT was what Windows strong point was until Vista came out. Now it's a massive toolbar with mostly stuff I don't need, it uses up twice the vertical space that it should and it's still difficult to actually click on items since they're not actual squares but a [insert word for images that are not evenly distributed]. I'm sticking with XP and it's "out-dated" competence.
Most of the user base here heavily bum the latest and greatest, they'll be happy with whatever Microsoft gives them, even if it's worse. That being said, you should really make an effort to switch to 7 for the security advancements alone. You can easily disable all the useless **** it imposes.

JAB Creations said,
I have Aero for XP and it looks great!

I don't have to install third party software to restore the classic start menu.

I have single-click buttons in Windows Explorer that takes three-clicks to do in 7.

I have my Windows Explorer toolbars customized because XP allows me to right-click and customize.

I get actual work done because XP's customization allows me to work optimally.


for a tech guy your quite 'uninformed' to put it nicely.
Windows XP menu tweaks and what not, most of them still work on win7. you can disable the toolbar (in vista it was kinda useless, in 7 its somewhat handy) enable back the old menu, enable the classic breadcrumbs and go back to classic theme and TADA you have an GUI almost identical to WinXP including the pro's of win7.

and aero on XP? impossible,aero is not just the graphical looking mumbojumbo you see, its the whole GUI running hardware accelerated, the GUI in XP is software accelerated. also win7 takes control over the GPU, winXP lets applications/games control the GPU.

also the winXP start menu is better then win7 according to some, its basically the same thing with extra's, the folder structure is there, bunch of buttons and best yet, the search bar <3 go use it some times and you'll fall in love with it.

JAB Creations said,
I think XP's Explorer was WAY better because you could actually CUSTOMIZE it! THAT was what Windows strong point was until Vista came out. Now it's a massive toolbar with mostly stuff I don't need, it uses up twice the vertical space that it should and it's still difficult to actually click on items since they're not actual squares but a [insert word for images that are not evenly distributed]. I'm sticking with XP and it's "out-dated" competence.

Customization is what I want. I really don't want the icons that I don't need occupying a lot of space on screen!