Microsoft still has tricks beyond just ads and AI: Windows 11’s File Explorer set to get a slick new ‘Shared’ section

It looks like Microsoft is still making time to work on functional improvements to Windows 11, such as a recent update to File Explorer – and I’m not just talking about its enthusiasm for holistically peppering adverts all over the operating system and integrating AI into every part of it. The new development is looking to add a ‘Shared’ section into File Explorer and is currently being tested with Windows 11 beta users. 

The new File Explorer section is included as part of the Windows 11 Preview Build 22635.3640, available through the Beta Channel of the Windows Insider Program. Even if you install this preview build, the feature is disabled by default and has to be enabled using ViveTools, an open-source software that allows you to test out experimental features. 

The addition of this new section to File Explorer was discovered and shared by X user and occasional Windows leaker @PhantomOfEarth who described their experience of the upgrades that Microsoft is toying with introducing for File Explorer, including ‘fancy visuals’ for sections (even if they are empty) and the introduction of the ‘Shared’ section. 

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The first of these discoveries indicates that Microsoft is currently testing changes to the File Explorer user interface (UI), specifically three sections appearing in a sort of horizontal ribbon layout below your file folders: ‘Recent,’ ‘Favorites,’ and ‘Shared.’ Formerly (well, currently, for those of us not using a preview build of Windows 11), these appeared in a vertical list below your file folders. 

A screenshot of locating the old Task Manager using File Explorer's address bar

(Image credit: Microsoft)

How you can set up and try out the new 'Shared' section for yourself

If you’re absolutely itching to get the newly introduced ‘Shared’ section, as well as the changes to the UI, Windows Report recommends that you download ViveTool from its official GitHub page. You’ll have to install Windows 11 Preview Build 22635.3640 first, and then download ViveTool. ViveTool is a third-party app, but it’s widely used and I don’t see any immediate issues that strike me as cause for concern on its GitHub page. 

Once you’ve downloaded ViveTool, you’ll want to open Command Prompt or PowerShell, which are easiest to find by typing either one of those into the search bar in the Windows Taskbar. Then, copy and paste the following code into the window that opens: 

vivetool /enable /id:45130483

Again, this is a feature that’s currently in the testing stage; it’s not even enabled by default in the preview build, and this tracks with what users who have used it have been reporting – the new section appears to not be fully integrated into File Explorer yet and can be buggy at times. One user reported a bug that affected the whole of File Explorer, with the left-hand menu being automatically populated with copies of pinned shortcuts. 

The new section’s bugginess is probably why it’s currently disabled by default, and as Windows Report cautions, you should only enable it at your own risk. You can disable the new features and changes by modifying the ‘enable’ part of the above code to ‘disable,’ so you don’t have to panic even if you do choose to try this out and end up encountering some glitches. 

The new functionality for File Explorer seems useful, and I hope Microsoft continues to work on it to sharpen it and make it functional. It’s easy to see how a ‘Shared’ section would make it easier to collaborate with others your device is connected to. Also, these are the kinds of changes that I think users welcome, as they’re not too big, but have the potential to become part of how we use Windows in our regular routines.

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Windows 11 users, get ready for more AI – a new test build promises a designated section of the Settings menu just for AI updates

Windows 11 Build 26217 is now available to developers and testers in the Canary alpha channel, offering a few small bug fixes alongside a new page in the Settings menu dedicated to “AI component updates”. 

Microsoft has been flooding Windows 10 and Windows 11 users with some pretty cool AI-related updates and features recently, most notably the addition of Copilot to the taskbar for easy access. Spotted by WindowsLatest, the new settings page is just for AI updates, but right now we don’t really know what that could entail. We speculate that users will be able to keep track of updates to features like AI Explorer and possibly Copilot as well – or Microsoft could be setting up a new space for entirely new AI-related features.

Microsoft could also be gearing up for the Build Developer conference later this year, where it seems to be encouraging developers to build their own AI features for Windows apps. This would be fascinating news for AI enthusiasts who are already feeling the positive impacts of having a tool like Copilot ready to use and may want to boost some of the apps or programs they already use with an injection of AI functionality. 

Finally, some good news!

I’m pretty excited to see what kind of nifty features will make a home in the new settings page if we do see it have a public rollout. We have to keep in mind that many features and changes we see in the Windows Canary channel aren’t guaranteed to make a wide release, so while I might be excited now, I can’t get my full hype on until we get more information from Microsoft. 

That being said, it does look like AI is here to stay for Windows users. That could be good or bad news depending on your outlook on large language models, but it feels like Microsoft is all-in when it comes to AI. 

Overall, I am glad for some good news when it comes to Windows updates. With the influx of ads becoming the new normal in Windows 11, there’s been a bitter taste in my mouth anytime I hear about a new build or update – so if this new section of the settings does come to our desktops that’ll at least be something positive (and ad-free). Here at TechRadar, we all feel Microsoft owes us some kind of good news given how irritating ads have become – even stooping so low as to disguise themselves as recommendations

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Twitter is preparing to embrace podcasts with a dedicated section

Serial discoverer of Twitter secrets Jane Manchun Wong has come up trumps again, unearthing signs of another exciting new feature in the social app. The reverse engineer frequently delves into the Twitter codebase, and now has fund references to a new podcast section.

Having already developed a taste for audio content in Spaces, helped to some extend by its acquisition of social podcasting app Breaker, it seems that Twitter is ready to take things further. It is not clear exactly what plans the company has for its Podcasts section, but it is something what will be welcomed by creators and consumers alike.

After burrowing into the depths of the Twitter app, Jane Manchun Wong shared an image of her findings in a tweet. it shows a microphone icon in the bottom navigation bar which is used to access the yet-to-be-released Podcasts section.

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Unpopulated with content, the Podcasts tab looks a little spartan and uninspiring, but once the feature (hopefully) goes live for everyone, it should prove to be an exciting addition to the platform.

There are several directions Twitter could take this in. It could be used for exclusive content which could in turn be used to boost revenue, be that through advertising or subscriptions. There is also the possibility of licensed content, or the ability for Twitter users to use the platform to start their own podcasts.

It could also be used as an extension to Twitter Spaces, which can already be saved as podcasts. As is so often the case with early discovery like this, the only thing we can do is wait and see how things pan out.

While it could be argued that fans of podcasts are spoiled for choice – or overwhelmed, depending on your point of view – when it comes to places to discover new content, it's important to remember a couple of things. Firstly, are there still plenty of people who are still to get on the podcast bandwagon? Secondly, new ways to discover and promote content should always be welcomed.

Via The Verge

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