It was all fine and sensible up to Windows XP where newly created files (files pasted, downloaded or extracted from an archive) and newly created folders appeared at the end of the list of icons in any view, be it list view, details view or icon view. It was only after refreshing the view that they got logically sorted by the user-chosen sort criteria in Windows Explorer. The same behavior was in effect when renaming items. It is also why we have a Refresh button on the toolbar and in the View menu in Windows Explorer. But in Windows Vista and Windows 7 Explorer, all items are continuously sorted whether we would like it or not; we simply have no choice.
This creates several horrible issues when working with large numbers of files and folders, for example, in scenarios such as extracting/pasting several items into a folder already containing several items, it scatters them all over. This behavior also presents a problem when serially renaming items listed one after the other or simply if we wish to select multiple items after they have been pasted or created and we are not done working with them yet. In Windows 7, the "New folder" is sorted even before the user has given it a name and quite a number of times I have ended up with this error message:
As I said before, not many users are happy about this particular annoyance but instead of fixing it, what does Windows 7 do? It removes the Sort bar which debuted in Windows Vista except for Details view. The Sort bar allowed sorting items 1-click by any criteria merely by clicking on the header in any view. It was one of the few good enhancements made in Windows Vista (Windows 95 and all versions prior to Windows Vista have always had the Sort bar only in Details view) and now they managed to ruin that as well. Plus you can no longer freely arrange items by dragging, in any folder in Windows Explorer; you can only do so on the desktop. Items are now always aligned to grid and always auto arranged. To top it all, a catastrophic bug further wrecks this by de-selecting any selected item when sorting. Really Microsoft? Is this all the testing you could do when introducing a new view control?
Another mis-feature that I wish to highlight is from the Wikipedia article: "The Arrange By/Stack By options are only available for libraries and folders included in libraries. Plus, users can only stack by predefined categories depending on the library type. For example, users can only stack by Folder, Album, Artist, Song, Genre, and Rating for the Music library, whereas in Windows Vista, users could stack by any properties that exist for a file (common examples would be bit rate, year, composer, play count ..etc for audio files)." Clearly, limiting our choice seems to be their only goal. I doubt they even understand the difference between Auto Arrange and Align to Grid (the former aligns items to grid as well as sorts them by a specific order). What we have enjoyed for a decade now since Windows 95 is suddenly taken away from us for no reason? Microsoft simply refuses to give a choice about sorting and arranging. What is this if not an OCD?
The new Start menu also suffers from weird sorting behavior for which I have not been able to observe any specific pattern except one obvious annoyance - all the folders are dumped below and single items are put above. Yet again we get no choice.
This auto sorting in Explorer is an extremely serious usability flaw and the people on the Windows Shell team who do not understand it need to be fired for this issue which causes files to jump in a folder!! It makes Windows Vista/7/8 Explorer UNUSABLE.
I must say the Windows Shell team has failed to produce a usable shell after all the promises of Longhorn.