Windows 7: Find and Organize Part 1 - The User Experience

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David Washington and Paul Gusmorino demonstrate the key enhancements in Windows 7 to finding and organizing your files. David and Paul show off the ways that the team has simplified the Windows Explorer, the new libraries feature, which is a virtual collection of your music, photos, and video, wherever they may be, including on multiple machines. You'll also see how to use the Library pane to easily find and filter your data.

You'll also see the new advanced search filter that provides a visual way to filter your files based on the files metadata.

- Watch Part 2
- Watch their PDC session


Windows 7



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    The Discussion

    • Bas
      I'm kind of hesitant about this. I love the idea of extending Libraries from Media Player to all sorts of stuff, and being able to access it from explorer, but... If the way WMP11 handles metadata is any indication, this is going to be an utter disaster. Album art not being up to date, the metadata you search on being persisted or not seemingly randomly... My album art wall in Media Center is full of holes simply because Media Player refuses to store the album art I told it the album should have.

      Like I said.. I love the idea, but if this hinges on the same malfunctioning metadata reading and writing that WMP uses.. I'm foreseeing disaster.
    • DCMonkey
      Can you create your own libraries in addition to adding locations to the existing ones?
    • DCMonkey
      I was under the impression that WMP's library is being tossed in favor of using what is basically Windows Desktop Search with libraries being a way to organize specific sets of search locations instead of having to search for media files across all search locations.
    • littleguru
      Dan you forgot one! Where is PaoloM??? I know that he works with David...
    • Bas
      Where will it get the metadata? From the files themselves? Or from WMP's internal metadata database that never gets written to the files themselves even if you explicitly tell it to?
    • BHpaddock

      All the library operations, like showing the "album" view, operate over the Windows Search indexer.  It gets the metadata information from the file, using the registered property handler for that file type.  The out-of-the-box handlers should cover all the common media cases just as in Vista.

    • Bas
      In other words, I should now completely abandon editing metadata through media player, because the Library feature and Windows Search will all use the metadata in the actual file, that Windows Media Player refuses to write to the file, rendering my file unfindable.
    • BHpaddock
      I don't know how WMP editing affects the files in Win7, but I can try to find out.  I've never had a problem with it, though.  I'm sure David, Paul, and others will be checking out this thread and taking note of your feedback, so keep it coming!

      Hopefully part 2 will be up soon, featuring yours truly =D
    • Bas

      If the WMP library works the same as in XP/Vista, it'll be as follows:

      1. Edit album artist
      2. WMP writes album artist to its own library
      3. WMP periodically writes data in library to the actual file's metadata

      It's step 3 that always fails for me. Which would mean that the file's metadata wouldn't ever get up to date, which would mean that the Libraries wouldn't be able to pivot on that data. The only way of fixing it that I see is  getting Windows Media Player fixed, but I'm sort of giving up on that, since nobody else seems to have this problem.

    • DCMonkey

      The point I was trying to make is that WMP12 will use WDS and its associated metadata writing features instead of its own homwgrown library/metadata system. Therefore the problem you are having specifically with WMP not writing metadata to files may go away.

      And they probably won't bother fixing code in the current WMP that's going to go away in WMP12.

    • spivonious
      These are the videos I want to see!  Windows 7 looks to be everything Vista was supposed to be.

      The features shown in this video seem to be what WinFS's goal was - to make users forget about where the actual file was stored and concentrate on the task at hand.
    • intelman
      Can I bribe anyone at Microsoft to send me the same bits PDC attendees got?

      Visual Studio 2010 + Windows 7 M3 haha.

      This organization is quite a bit better than what is in Vista, but I still do not think Vista is that bad. I use a save search for my documents pictures and music, but it certainly doesn't work the way it does in this video.
    • Defcon

      Will Libraries work like Smartfolders on OSX? Saved searches in Vista are horrendously slow and don't work very well. Can I define my own Libraries? I'd like to be able to say "This is a view of all my avi files >20min on all my disks that I haven't seen yet", have this query run locally as well as my WHS shares, and be updated in realtime.

      And why can't file metadata be attached to every file (for god's sake, NTFS has had ADS forever) instead of the stupid limitation on tagging only certain types of files. If we can tag any file, define custom searches that use that metadata, and compose Libraries out of these searches, then we are very close to the holy grail of WinFS. But I'm almost 100% sure this is not what we'll get.

    • jh71283
      I get the same thing Bas.

      I remember an older version of media player (7 or 8 I think) had a command in the menu to 'commit' your data to the files, but that disappeared in subsequent versions. Sad

    • Bas
      The point I was trying to make is that WMP12 will use WDS

      Ah, I missed that part, thanks. That would be positive.

      I remember an older version of media player (7 or 8 I think) had a command in the menu to 'commit' your data to the files, but that disappeared in subsequent versions

      No, that's still there. In the Media Library menu, you can choose 'commit changes to files' or whatever that's called in English. Not that it works, of course...
    • GRiNSER
      Will the Preview Pane be as accessible/powerful as in OS X? When I compare Vista with OS X on my box and macbook pro, it is so much easier to preview stuff in finder by simply pressing the SPACE key (everything else isn't that great in finder *g*) and then the preview comes as an overlay which can be simply closed by another press on the SPACE key. Simple, efficient (uses overlay to have more space for showing the previewed content in a great way) and fast concept. Couldn't you take some cues from them?
    • giovanni
      Just remember to click the "Apply Media Information Changes" and step 3 will be carried out immediately...
    • PaoloM
      There is no "WMP library" anymore.

      WMP uses the library framework in Windows 7.
    • daSmirnov
      Good work guys.

      I loved the idea of virtual folders like we had in the early Windows Vista builds, where the Documents folder was a saved search result, dissapointly that feature was removed as it was too confusing - although it does still exist, it was just unhooked from the Documents, Music folders etc.

      This is an excellent replacement for it.  I've always wanted to get public documents and pictures show up in the same view.  I had to train the rest of the family to use the Public Documents links, and links to the Home Server on the Favourite Links section instead.  This makes it much simpler to use, and they won't need to remember where specific things are stored anymore.  They can just hit Documents on their Start menus and see the lot.

      Also like not showing image names in the Pictures view too - I used to be religious about naming images, but now I just leave them with the default name from the camera and tag them instead.  I suspect a lot of people do the same thing too.
    • BHpaddock
      The preview pane now has a button on the right side of the commands module to turn it on and off.  It also has a hotkey, Alt+P.
    • pag3
      Yes, users (and developers!) can create new libraries in addition to being able to include more folders in the exising libraries like Documents, Music, and Pictures.

      For example, suppose you store your visual studio projects in d:\projects.  You can create a new "VS Projects" library and include the d:\projects folder in it.  This new "VS Projects" library shows up alongside your Documents, Music, and Pictures libraries.  From it, you can take advantage of library features shown in the video like the the new views for finding things "by type" or "by date modified" and the search box improvements for building queries.

      Your files, of course, remain in d:\projects.  The "VS Projects" library just provides you with a convenient way to find and organize those files.  If you had a second folder where you keep additional visual studio projects (e.g. d:\moreprojects), you could include it in your "VS Projects" library, too.
    • scoobie
      This is a really great presentation, Windows 7 Search and Find features look really useful and I would upgrade my Windows just for this feature as its just what I've been missing.
      One suggestion - Please can the Preview pane highlight the search terms too?  So when you click on the Preview button the text in the document is highlighted in yellow. I've seen this in other search tools (specifically Enfish) and this feature is really useful.
      I can see you are previewing and highlighting in yellow the text underneath the document name in the search - this is useful too so keep this.
    • kenlefeb
      How well will Windows 7 work with existing metadata formats? I'm thinking specifically of the various forms of metadata for pictures. The support for image tags in Vista is extremely limited, though I really wish I could abandon Lightroom in favor of just natively managing my pictures and all their metadata directly within Explorer.

    • dwashin
      Hey! It's David from the video.

      Great question. What kind of support for image tags are you looking for?

      All of the stuff that we showed in the video is built on top of the flexible and extensible shell property system. Even though a particular image format may not have support out of the box ISVs can plug in to give full support. For example, if you use a Canon EOS-1D camera you can get RAW support in Windows by installing the canon codec.

      Thank for posting. Let me know if this doesn't answer your question.

    • dwashin
      I'm glad you like what you see.

      Thanks for the suggestion about the preview pane. I have forwaded it on to the feature owner.
    • stutony
      The problem with that feature, is that IT connects to the internet, and Downloads the information or metadata related to the file (e.g. Album name, year, artist, album art, etc) and 'applies it' to the media files.  Problem is, IT DOES NOT APPLY THE INFORMATION to the file itself but to the 'WMP Library.'  It is an issue I have dealt with as long as I used Windows Media Player, and for the changes to apply I have to at least apply them 4-6 times.  And gosh forgive if the player decides to do a Library Update, all my applied changes get lost.  That is what makes me wonder if Windows Media Player 12 will give us the option to let us do permanent changes to media files, then 'Lock' those changes in case we do OS re-install, or apply media to another library at another computer.

      All I am saying is that I don't want my music to get wrong information and have to leave it as is.  I don't like the album art that is too dark, too bright, or the color is bleeding.
    • dyapp

      I'm sorry to say that I tested W7 Beta extensively with the Windows Explorer and Libraries are very inconsistant, horribly broken and don't work well with WMP12.   The default behavior keeps changing, doesn't always show the same thing every time you open the folder location editor, and the help is not consistant with designed behavior and Windows Explorer is worse than XP.   I sent a lot of feedback yesterday through the system under Programs/File Management/Organize.  This is not good, who the heck tests this stuff?  Its not working but half the time.  WMP12 doesn't even find Videos in the Video Library.  You cannot even click into the My or Public folders in Documents, Pictures and Videos, but you can in Music???  Why is so strange.. the details come up differently under each Library too.. and people are confused because even the My and Public Folders are virtual names..  XP Windows Explorer just worked.  Also I can no longer use the White Space to bring up the correct Right Context Menus.. it always wants to high light and select stuff I don't want to click on.  Why is this so functionally broken??    Get your team in order!

      Having a broken, inconsistant and crazy behavior is un-acceptable.  I might have to stick with Vista or XP instead if you cannot get this right.  Libraries are just a search targeted to specific folders and yet it doesn't even work.

    • zian
      I have this problem a lot too.

      Even when I go through Windows Media Player's "Find Album Details", the metadata and album cover often don't even make it into the library, never mind the actual folder and media files themselves.
    • someone

      Dear shell team, I refuse to upgrade ever until you fix ALL of these issues:


    • JamieLaing

      I'm here, with a great heaviness in my heart, to tell you that Windows 7 WMP completely trashed my 1.5 TB MP3 library.  I started it up, pointing it to a network watch folder and saw it doing some good things, organizing my library and gathering additonal info on incompletel files.  Unfortunately I left it running overnight, and found extensive destruction to my file names and tags.  Specifically, WMP took tracks from a single album and renamed them the wrong names.  The file names were changed and the metadata was changed, usually creating duplicates, and oddly often duplicating odd numbered tracks.  So what once were tracks 1 through 8 for example, often became duplicates of tracks 3, 5, and 7. 


      Fortunately, the folder structures were not renamed and as far as I can tell the files were not moved to album folders of the wrong name, so I think I can write some software to get out of this mess.  My folder structure goes "Artist/Album", so I am hoping I can inspect those folder names, then gather the track lengths and compare against the actual tracks in the album and put things back.


      What an incredible disappointment.

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