SAN FRANCISCO — Microsoft on Tuesday provided another glimpse at changes coming with the next-generation of Windows software that powers most of the world's computers.

Microsoft is making major improvements to a key Windows Explorer file management program to enhance how it interacts with the coming Windows 8 operating system, according to Windows division president Steven Sinofsky.

"Windows 8 is about reimagining Windows, so we took on the challenge to improve the most widely used desktop tool (except maybe for Solitaire) in Windows," Sinofsky said atop a blog post detailing Explorer modifications.

"Windows Explorer is a foundation of the user experience of the Windows desktop and has undergone several design changes over the years, but has not seen a substantial change in quite some time," he added.

A control "ribbon" for commands was added to make them more easily accessible to people other than "power users" familiar with Windows Explorer shortcuts.

Engineers set out to "return Explorer to its roots as an efficient file manager and expose some hidden gems" in the form of handy commands many people may not know, according to Alex Simmons of the program management team.

Microsoft in June provided the first sneak peak at the successor to Windows 7, a next-generation operating system designed to work on both personal computers and touchscreen tablets.

Sinofsky demonstrated some of the features of the operating system code-named "Windows 8" at a D9 technology conference hosted by All Things Digital.

"Laptops, slates, desktops -- all can run one operating system," Sinofsky said.

"Windows 8" builds upon many of the features in Microsoft's latest mobile operating system for smartphones, Windows Phone 7, including the use of touch "tiles" instead of icons to launch and navigate between applications.

Microsoft has promised to reveal more features of Windows 8, which uses Internet Explorer 10 as a Web browser, at its developers conference in Anaheim, California, opening on September 13.