Immersive Explorer is a file manager designed to replace the default solution provided by Microsoft in Windows 7 and 8 operating systems. What stands out is the fact that all items are displayed as tiles, just like in the Modern UI environment in Windows 8, and it uses graphical hardware acceleration.
The application is currently in alpha stage of development and this is easily noticeable when you work with it. It is free of charge and you do not have to go through the regular installation routine to have it on the system. Extracting the archived contents and running the executable file is all you need to do to get it started.
Immersive Explorer does not take over Windows Explorer's functions because it is designed as an alternative solution, just like other file managers on the market. Its focus is on content rather than options and menus.
Once started it occupies the entire desktop area, only the taskbar being available. You can resize it to a smaller view as well as make it full-screen. Worthy of mention is the fact that downsizing does not automatically shrink the content and if there are plenty of elements you will definitely not have them all in the same window; the horizontal scroll bar will help you get to them, though.
Just like in the Windows’ file manager, the default initial view shows the group of libraries, favorites and the drives. If the first two are lively colored, the third batch of items is differentiated only by the information in the tiles, which is exactly the same as in Windows Explorer (drive letter, partition size and amount of free space).
In the upper part of the interface there are the navigation controls that allow you to move back and forth and go up one level or return to the initial screen with all the drives. In the lower part there are the Browse, View and Edit menus, which include options for handling selected items.
As soon as you make your selection a new set of options pops up, allowing you to view the properties of the chosen items, delete or rename them. These are the highlighted possibilities and not all of them work, proof that the application is still in an early stage of development.
During our testing, we could not check the properties of a folder; the dialog would come up blank. Things were different with files because we could see information like size, creation and modification dates.
Also locked is the delete function. Although the option is highlighted upon selecting an item you won’t be able to complete the operation. Trying to achieve this with Immersive Explorer seems to be impossible because the application does not support keyboard input either.
An interesting option is displaying the MD5 and SHA1 hash. These are not shown by default, since with larger files it would greatly delay the display of the properties. However, the option to calculate the values is available if you’re willing to wait for the operation to complete. With smaller items the values are calculated very fast.
Another special ability available in Immersive Explorer is that it comes with a built-in image viewer. It is a basic tool that offers a minimum amount of options: full-screen, zoom in/out on mouse click and scroll, returning to the fit-to-window view and moving to the next and previous picture.
The clock is displayed at all times in Immersive Explorer, even when the image viewer is running. It is a very discreet on-screen element, which, depending on what’s displayed, might pass unnoticed.
The image viewer also lets you view the pictures in film strip mode, thus allowing you to view the thumb preview for each item.
Built-in support for audio files is also available in the application. Just like in the case of the image viewer, activation is done by simply clicking on the desired item. During our tests, we were able to play MP3, WAV, WMA and OGG audio straight in Immersive Explorer. The same is available for video files.
In the current stage of development, Immersive Explorer seems more like a concept rather than a file manager ready for usage. On the other hand, with a little effort it could become a feasible solution, especially on Windows 8 tablets.
It looks great and support for media files (image, audio and video) is a big plus.
Development is ongoing and any flaws pointed out in the review might be fixed in the stable release.
Immersive Explorer has a long way to go to become a file manager with minimal functionality. Lack of keyboard support combined with plenty of options missing make it quite difficult to handle even by beginners.
For future versions the developer promises optimization for touch screens and a better experience for desktop users as well.
Note: Immersive Explorer is in alpha stage of development, hence a project in progress. As such, our rating will remain set to the default three stars until the stable version is evaluated.