Ian Ellison-Taylor was the shell developer on the Windows 3.1 team responsible for File Manager and Print Manager.
The program's interface showed a list of directories (later called folders) on the left side, and a list of the current directory's contents on the right side. File Manager allowed a user to create, rename, move, print, copy, search for, and delete files and directories, as well as to set permissions such as read-only or hidden, and to associate file types with programs. Also available were tools to label and format disks and to connect and disconnect from a network drive. On Windows NT systems it was also possible to set ACLs on files and folders on NTFS partitions through the shell32 security configuration dialog (also used by Explorer and other Windows file managers).
The 16-bit version had a Y2K issue due to lexicographic correlation between dates and the ASCII character set; colons and semicolons replaced what should have been '2000'. From Windows 95 and Windows NT 4.0 onward, File Manager was superseded by Windows Explorer. However, the program was included with Windows 95, Windows NT 4.0 Windows 98, and Windows Me. The WINFILE.EXE file was not included in Windows 2000 or subsequent versions of Windows NT. It is possible to run File Manager under Windows 2000 and Windows XP by extracting a copy from a Windows NT 4.0 CD-ROM.
The Windows NT version of File Manager allows users to change file and directory permissions. This is not possible with Windows Explorer on Windows XP Home Edition as users are restricted to Simple File Sharing (unless running in Safe Mode). File Manager cannot run natively under Windows Vista, because the latter does not include COMMCTRL.DLL.
It is possible to use File Manager as the Windows shell, in place of Program Manager or Explorer.