If a report from Chinese tech blog win8china.com is to be believed--and they've been pretty accurate so far--the Release Candidate (RC) version of Windows 8 will feature a tweaked Explorer user interface that somewhat matches the flat UI that pervades the Metro interface.

Here are some before and after shots that will drive home the expected change: 

Before (Beta/Consumer Preview):

before

After (RC):

after

This change is a lot less dramatic than the forum fantasies that have been endlessly popularized by other blogs, but then that makes sense. Unlike the kids who draw such pictures in a vacuum, Microsoft has over a billion users to support. And if Explorer was too different from the version in Windows 7, corporations would avoid this release in droves because of the training costs involved.

This flatter new Explorer is just the beginning, folks. We've learned separately that other UI changes are coming to the RC build, including new icons, new cursors, new controls, and more. Looks like Rafael and I will be retaking all of the screenshots for Windows 8 Secrets ... as expected.