Windows Explorer is the default shell used in the Microsoft Windows Operating System. It was first released in Windows 95, succeeding Program Manager. Windows Explorer introduced the Start Button, Taskbar and Start Menu, as well as a newer and better way to browse for files and folders.
The evolution of Windows Explorer has changed throughout the year. Many Visual Styles play a big part in how Explorer looks.
Windows 9x/Early NT
In Windows 95, there were no buttons that allowed you to go back and forth in folders, and each time you opened a new folder it opened a new window. After installing Internet Explorer 4 that could be changed. Windows NT 4 had the same kind of shell as Windows 95 and could be changed using the same method of Installing Internet Explorer 4 or greater.
In Windows 98, web integration was added with an address bar at the top. The back and forward buttons were standard, and a preview pane was added at the left of each Window. A quick-launch bar was added which made it easy to store icons on the Taskbar to launch a program without using the Start Menu or going on the desktop. Most of this was kept up through Windows 2000 and Windows Me.
Windows XP and onwards
Windows XP underwent a slew of visual changes that included a brand new start menu and start button. The quick launch bar was hidden but could be reenabled, as well as better ways of viewing files. Using thumbnails was an easier way to look at photos and videos. Windows XP introduced a new mode that allowed an explorer folder turn into a picture-slideshow view.
In between the gap that was Windows Longhorn many changes, most of them revolutionary, paved the way for Windows Vista. Within earlier builds, the visual style had been changed drastically, and different viewing modes had been added, such as Phodeo, which was a special way to view pictures and videos, 3D-mode, which allowed you to view things in a 3D-like user interface, and Carousel, which kept icons in a circle and you could go through them. Phodeo can be seen in some builds (such as 4039 and 4066) but is heavily buggy. As well as the special viewing modes, a new way to display your windows was made. Desktop Composition Engine was added to add special effects, such as transparency and different movements, that enhance the computing experience. Many of these features were dropped, which lead to transparent window panes in Desktop Window Manager. This lead to Windows Vista creating a new Start button, a redesigned taskbar, which added "Window Previews" when the mouse is hovered over a minimized window, a new Start Menu, and an organized way to place pictures, videos, music, games, and documents in one place. Test.