Run the original Windows File Manager on modern Windows PCs
Microsoft recently released the source code and compiled versions of the original Windows File Manager and a modified version with additional features for the public.
Introduced in Windows 3.0, File Manager allowed Windows users to manage files more efficiently. It supported operations such as browsing, searching, copying, moving, executing, or deleting, and was the predecessor to Windows Explorer and File Explorer that Windows users use today. on their machines today.
The NT version of File Manager supported network file management operations such as changing user or file permissions.
Windows Explorer replaced File Manager as the default file management tool on Windows 95 and Windows NT 4.0, but the classic program was still included.
The original Windows file manager
Follow these steps to run Classic File Manager for Windows right now:
- Head to the releases page of the Win File Manager project on GitHub (this is an official Microsoft project).
- Download WinFile v.10.0 or the original Windows file manager from the page.
- Extract the archive.
- Run the program.
Microsoft has created two different versions of the file manager. The original version is close to the original while version 10.0 includes additional improvements that make it more relevant to today.
The original version of the file manager required modifications to work on modern versions of Windows. It was a 16-bit application and Microsoft converted the source to work with Visual Studio 2015 and Visual Studio 2017.
The source compiles and runs on 64-bit versions of Windows, and Microsoft had to make a handful of other changes to get the app to work properly. Internal API references had to be replaced with public APIs, and “some header files” had to be added on top of that.
The modified version of the file manager introduces features that most Windows users expect from a file manager.
File Manager Plus supports drag and drop, changes keyboard shortcuts to map current functionality (e.g. Ctrl-C to copy not to change drive) and better search functionality such as definition a date so that only the most recent results are returned.
Is the file manager still a viable solution today?
One question that needs to be answered is whether File Manager is a viable replacement for Windows Explorer or File Explorer.
While it’s certainly possible to use the program for basic file management operations, I’d say it’s not very suitable even though it supports most of the basic features supported by To explore.
The file manager feels a bit clunky to use and lacks features such as setting favorites or direct access to all drives in a sidebar. In the end, it really doesn’t offer anything that Windows Explorer doesn’t support as well.
The file manager worked well when tested on a Windows 10 Pro machine. It uses just a little memory (about 15 megabytes) while running and supports all key file operations.
Microsoft has released source code for the app which, at least in theory, could lead to forks that introduce new features or otherwise change the Windows file manager.
It’s really fun to play around with the classic manager and compare it to the current version of Windows Explorer to see all the things that have changed over the past two decades.
Now you: Are you using Windows Explorer or another file manager?