Microsoft did something good in Windows 11

I know that I dislike Microsoft because they cheat. But if I’m going to have at least a little bit of integrity, I need to admit it when Microsoft does something good. Yes, they did something good in Windows 11, even if it took them 30+ years to copy the idea.

In Windows 11, you can select a file and right-click on it, and the popup menu lets you copy the path of the file to the clipboard.

If you didn’t know about this, and you start using it, you may be surprised at just how useful this is. I’m not, because I’ve had that functionality all along these last 30 years in WinBatch. For 30 years, I’ve had an easier time of it than you, because I’ve always had right-click clipboard tricks at my fingertips.

And I do have some sympathy for Microsoft taking so long to implement this feature. Microsoft had been caught stealing ideas from software vendors who sold (or wanted to sell) Windows utilities. Wilson WindowWare, the publisher of WinBatch, made Windows better by providing a macro recorder for Windows. It was kind of a sham though, because playing back the same mouse and keystrokes – without the ability to edit the macro – was more teaser to buy a product than helpful.

But if you bought the product, it was magical.

And Microsoft decided (this time) to not stab their partner in the back by implementing the partner’s idea themselves.

I did buy WinBatch. I bought it for my personal use. And in fact, I conviced my employer to buy the compiler, at $500 per year. What that gave me was an unlimited site license to run as many WinBatch scripts as I wanted on every machine in my environment. The compiler embedded the scripts inside a .exe much like the Perl PAR modules do, so you get a Windows .exe that runs your Perl script. The interpreter is embedded, the DLLs are embedded, and the script is embedded, and it all launches from the .exe

At work, I put the runtime DLLs on the public folder of every NetWare server where users log in. I compiled scripts to the small .exe option, and then copied the .exe to the file servers. Well, I didn’t copy them, I had a WinBatch copy them for me. Then I edited the Novell login script to launch the WinBatch exes.

Did I need to take an inventory of every drive letter mapping on a machine? Yes. Could I do that for 2,500 machines and write the results to a shared drive? Yes. Oh, and by the way, how about listing which printers were installed too? This was reasonably competent tech for 2005. WinBatch had a set of Windows Registry search-and-replace calls, so I could launch from a login script a utility that changed registry keys on your machine after we migrated you to a new server.

Anyway, I loved WinBatch, and used it daily. And it came with clipboard tricks: any file, any folder, mulitple files and folders: you could right-click and copy either the name(s) or the full path (including file names) to the Windows clipboard.

So when I saw that Windows 11 added right-click copy path to clipboard I was impressed. Microsoft finally did something good.

Now technically, this feature has been in Windows for a decade or more, but you needed to know to shift+right-click to get the menu option. With Windows 11, they finally just made it available without any weird key combinations. Good job, Microsoft.