Windows 11 Dev Channel build 25136 brings long-awaited tabs experience in File Explorer

Arif Bacchus

Windows 11 File Explorer Tabs

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Microsoft is finally delivering on one of Windows 11’s most anticipated features. Just released to the Dev Channel, Insider Preview build 25136 is adding File Explorer Tabs, and some navigation updates to Windows 11.

Just as Microsoft teased during its last Windows Powers the Future of Hybrid Work event, Tabs in File Explorer are designed to help you work across multiple locations simultaneously. The tabs can be found in the title bar and give you quick access to your favorite content.

It seems to be in the A/B testing phase at moment though. Microsoft says that they’re just rolling out the feature, and it won’t be available to all Insiders in the Dev Channel just yet. This is so that they can monitor feedback on the feature.

In addition to the tabbed experience, Microsoft’s also refreshed the layout of the left navigation pane. It’s now easier to navigate to folders that matter to you. Here’s what the company says:

The updated organization provides easy access to your pinned and frequently used folders (Quick access) and your OneDrive cloud profiles added to Windows. OneDrive cloud profiles reflect the user’s name associated with the account. Known Windows folders which are available by default in the navigation pane are no longer displayed under This PC to keep that view focused for your PC’s drives. When you navigate to folders syncing to OneDrive such as Documents, Pictures, etc., the address bar displays the correct path to help bring clarity when your folders are on the cloud vs when they are local to you.

Interestingly enough, a second new feature in this build relates to Widgets. Microsoft’s trying out Dynamic Widgets content on the taskbar, so in addition to seeing live content from the weather widget, you’ll also be able to see updates about sports and finance, as well as breaking news. Per Microsoft:

This should make it easier for you to know when something important happens related to these widgets and keep you informed of breaking news. The content is meant to be quick and glanceable with the ability to see more inside the widgets board if you click on it. However, if you don’t interact with the content update the taskbar will return to showing you the weather.

As usual, this build comes with other changes and improvements around input, taskbar, start, settings, and more. Check these out below.

  • We are beginning to roll out the ability for Insiders to report animated gifs they feel are inappropriate from the emoji panel (WIN + .)
  • Addressed an issue which was leading to some PCs being erroneously detected as tablets. When this happened, compact mode and the option to hide checkboxes in File Explorer wouldn’t take effect.
  • Fixed an issue causing some Insiders to experience a SYSTEM_SERVICE_EXCEPTION bugcheck in recent Dev Channel builds
  • Fixed an issue that was sometimes causing taskbar apps to overflow with the system tray icons.
  • When you hover on an app in the system tray, its notification will no longer flash.
  • Fixed an issue that could cause Start to only show one column of recommended items.
  • If you’re pinning a large number of apps to Start, it should now refresh to show them more reliably.
  • Fixed an issue from the previous flight where Disks & Volumes section of System > Storage wasn’t displaying any disks or volumes.
  • We made a fix to help with a rare issue which was causing title bars to sometimes go transparent or missing sometimes in certain apps.
  • Fixed an issue where Windows Update might unexpectedly show error 0x00000000 when there wasn’t anything wrong.
  • Fixed an issue which was leading to some devices bugchecking with HYPERVISOR_ERROR when trying to upgrade to a new build.
  • Fixed an issue which was causing Task Manager to crash on launch sometimes after switching between light and dark mode or changing accent color.
  • Fixed an issue which could lead to increased latency or stutter in games when v-sync was used.
  • Fixed an issue which could cause some PCs to freeze after running the wsl –shutdown command.

As for known issues in this build, there are three big ones. First, Windows Insiders on Surface Pro X devices will hit a black screen attempting to resume from hibernate. Microsoft is also looking into a situation where the Mica material and Acrylic blur effect is not rendering correctly in OS surfaces like the Start menu, Notification Center, and other areas. Finally, Microsoft is investigating reports that shutting down via the Start menu isn’t working for some Insiders and is unexpectedly rebooting instead. The others are below.

  • The up arrow is misaligned in File Explorer tabs. This will be fixed in a future update.
  • Some games that use Easy Anti-Cheat may crash or cause your PC to bugcheck.
  • Certain apps in full screen (e.g., video players) prevent live captions from being visible.
  • Certain apps positioned near the top of the screen and closed before live captions is run will re-launch behind the live captions window positioned at top. Use the system menu (ALT + Spacebar) while the app has focus to move the app’s window further down.

This is definitely one of the biggest Dev Channel builds in a while! Happy downloading, Windows Insiders! And let us know what you think of the Tabs experience in File Explorer by dropping us a comment below.