A number of readers have asked me via email and Twitter whether Microsoft was removing the Libraries feature from Windows 8 and RT as part of the coming free Windows 8.1 update. I hadn’t heard about such a change, but while watching a TechEd session about Windows RT 8.1 this past weekend, I saw something that suggests this could indeed be happening.
To be fair, I’m not positive this is happening. But in the excellent TechEd session Windows RT in the Enterprise, Mike Niehaus takes attendees on a tour of Windows RT 8.1, and pauses briefly on the desktop. Here’s what he shows.
To be clear, this is RT, not Windows 8, so it’s possible that this change could only affect the devices-oriented version of Windows, where, in Niehaus’s words, the desktop exists only
But this window is quite different looking to how File Explorer in appears in Windows RT (or what Niehaus called Windows RT 8) today.
So, what’s different?
Well, first, the Libraries view is missing from the Navigation pane, which is of course what triggered this concern in the first place. In Windows 8/RT today, the Libraries view isn’t just available there, it’s something you can’t even hide. It is possible that it’s simply hidden by default.
But if that’s the case, why is there a new Folders group in This PC, which appears to replace the Computer view in Windows 8/RT today? These folders are comprised of the desktop and the former “My” folders—Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures, and Videos—and are not the library folders, which have different icons.
To be fair, the libraries might still be in there, and all this really is, is a way to clean up the Computer view in File Explorer.
So for now we can file this one under “unknown." But with the Windows 8.1 Preview shipping in just two weeks, we should have our answer soon.
Update: Here's the story. Apparently, libraries will still be a capability of Windows 8/RT with the 8.1 update but the default libraries are no longer created when you set up a new user. You can still create custom libraries if you'd like.