New Windows Insider Dev Build Brings New Explorer Icons, More

Posted on March 24, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 55 Comments

Microsoft is finally starting to show us some hints about the visual changes coming to the next major version of Windows 10. Today, we see new icons and colors coming to File Explorer plus some improvements to Windows Sandbox and Microsoft Defender Application Guard (MDAG).

The changes can be seen in Windows 10 Insider Preview build 21343, which is available now in the Dev channel. They are:

File Explorer improvements. Microsoft’s venerable File Explorer—which literally dates back to 1995 and Windows 95—is getting new and more colorful icons throughout its UI. And in a nod to the type of thing I was hoping to see in Windows 10 version 21H2, these new icons “have been made for greater consistency across Microsoft products that show files.” The icons for top-level user folders such as Desktop, Documents, Downloads, and Pictures all have new designs and even the Recycle Bin icon has been updated.

Windows Sandbox and Microsoft Defender Application Guard (MDAG) improvements. Windows Sandbox and Microsoft Defender Application Guard both take advantage of container technology that’s built-in to Windows 10 and, to date, the container runtime matched that of the host OS. starting with build 21343, Microsoft is introducing lightweight and faster new runtime designed and optimized for container scenarios. This will offer better performance but shouldn’t impact compatibility, Microsoft says.

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Comments (62)

62 responses to “New Windows Insider Dev Build Brings New Explorer Icons, More”

  1. codymesh

    those folder icons are gorgeous! But that drive icon.........what's going on there?


    but at least, this time, it looks like Microsoft has found some inspiration for their design ambitions.

  2. StevenLayton

    Sure, new icons are nice, but why haven't they fixed [insert your own pet peeve here]

    ;)

  3. Shel Dyck

    I'll be impressed when the common dialogs, alerts, etc. become aware of dark theme. they need to finish what they started.

  4. hrlngrv

    One step forward, two steps back.

    This new version shows more @#$%&*! useless whitespace between entries in Details view. You'd think someone, just one person, working in the Windows unit would have been able to realize that anyone using Details view wants to see a lot of details in the Explorer window at the same time.

    Good thing I prefer 2-pane file managers, which are all 3rd party, so immune from MSFT's zeal for making Windows new & improved.

  5. Scott Shingleton

    Hundreds of engineers working on the product, and big accomplishment is new icons in file explorer? How about finishing the product so control panel isn’t needed, make the interface consistent, fix the performance issues etc.? It feels like Microsoft only builds 75% software at best anymore.

  6. sherlockholmes

    Its nice that Microsoft focuses on the important things in Windows ;-)

  7. madthinus

    We are refreshing icons again and we are not even finished with the previous round of refreshes. Love this line in the blog post: "As you can imagine, there are a lot of icons in Windows 10 and more icons will continue to get updated over time."


    No kidding.

  8. ghostrider

    It's clear the File Explorer team sat down to discuss and prioritize all the important changes and fixes they desperately needed to implement, and decided on.... icons as the most important. Holy cow - Windows is truly scr**ed! When everything now seems to be about about how a product looks and not how it works, the writing is clearly on the wall.

  9. crp0908

    In reply to SvenJ:

    I believe they're referring to the error "The network folder specified is currently mapped using a different user name and password."


    I work around this by referring to the same resource using up to three different methods: 1) FQDN 2) abbreviated name 3) IP Address

  10. hrlngrv

    In reply to SvenJ:

    What have you done with Paul?

    He got new icons.

  11. sandy

    Have they finally set the correct icon for the Network Connections folder?


    Microsoft made new icons, put the new Network Connections icon in Shell32.dll but didn't replace the old icons in NetShell.dll, so (still correct at least up to version 1909, but I think 2004 too) go to Control Panel > Network and Sharing Centre > Change adapter settings and we still see the old Windows 7 icons all over the place, instead of the new icon.


    There are plenty of others, but this minor mistake shows the not-finishing-the-job problem; even when the work was done, nobody checked it.

  12. ezzy

    It's kind of humorous to me. I joined the insider program long before Windows 10 was ever released. Even back then I was saying, "why the hell is everyone so worried about WTF an icon looks like when there's so much more to do?"


    Annnnnd things haven't changed much.

  13. mr brandon

    As a consumer I am welcome to this refresh. As my work locations go to "tech guy" the slightest change is catastrophic. We are still dealing with "The Great Vertical Tabs Catastrophe of 2021"

  14. winner

    This adds to the already rich ecosystem of many generations of iconography in Windows 10. It's like a museum!

  15. Pulagatha

    I haven't had to time to look closely at it, but just initial impressions. The inset icons on the folders don't match enough. The gradient is too strong. The top and bottom outline for the folder detracts from the overall icon. It looks like someone put a lot of time into it, but it looks like the definition of trying too hard. The fact that the folders are color coded too seems like a nice touch. It's definitely better than the accent color being the color of every folder. The icons seem difficult to read at small sizes because of the gradient.

  16. PhilipVasta

    I know that people have wildly different opinions on this sort of thing, but it's amazing to me how much a few icons that you see frequently can really modernize the feel of the File Explorer. Of course, this needs to be the case for all of the rest of the OS...

  17. crunchyfrog

    More colorful icons? How about fixing Windows Update first.

  18. vernonlvincent

    Are these visual improvements part of 21H1 or 21H2? Just curious as I like what I'm seeing so far.

  19. zhackwyatt

    And the most important thing....no 3D objects folder taking up space. YAY!

  20. javial

    And what about Windows borders or different colors (or degrades or amount of grey) for diferent areas in order to make some contrast between areas?

  21. scovious

    At last OneDrive's icon doesn't seem so out of place.


    I hope Microsoft is also adding functionality to Explorer: for example I would like the ability to make multiple connections to a server using more than one user name/account. I also would love new explorer view layouts for content like folders, photos and videos which could use some better visual representations as an option. The preview pane is so limited. Dark mode is also not great.

  22. Sir_Timbit

    Multiple tabs in Explorer.... One day, Microsoft!

  23. samp

    Is nobody going to mention the drives icon? I mean, the others are nice, but a long time in coming, whilst that gobstopping drive mess detracts from this whole upgrade (the other changes allow it to use that title)

  24. echo64

    Man honestly it's about time but worth the wait they look amazing, can't wait to see how they look with the dark explorer theme I'm downloading the new build now!

  25. fourbadcats

    I like the icon updates but yowza, that's a lot of space between all the items. Maybe this is a tablet/touch spacing instead of compact for mouse use.

  26. hrlngrv

    Minor gripe: icon #127 in %SystemRoot%\System32\imageres.dll changed from

    to

    (at 64x64). IOW, the new version is indistinguishable from #3 or #4 in that file. Perhaps an oversight, but I've already changed to using my own icon file to replace it.

    ADDED: this is something Linux does much more intelligently with icon themes. They can be a PITA in their own way, but it's easy to keep multiple themes and pick and choose between them. Far more difficult with Windows unless one becomes very familiar with Window Blinds.

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