Microsoft is tweaking its Windows logo and the icons for many of the operating system’s apps. We’ve known for a year that the software maker has been planning an icon overhaul, and the company’s new Office icons were only the start. Microsoft is now redesigning more than 100 icons across the company with new colors, materials, and finishes.
It’s part of a bigger push to modernize Microsoft’s software and services under the Fluent Design set of principles. “With the newest wave of icon redesigns, we faced two major creative challenges,” explains Jon Friedman, corporate vice president of design and research at Microsoft. “We needed to signal innovation and change while maintaining familiarity for customers. We also had to develop a flexible and open design system to span a range of contexts while still being true to Microsoft.”
Most of the icon changes aren’t major overhauls, but subtle tweaks that make them look far more consistent when you look at tens of them together at once. Microsoft appears to be focusing part of its design efforts on cleaning up its Windows icon problem. Windows 10 has lots of inconsistent icons appearing in settings and apps, with some old icons dating back decades.
Windows 10X appears to be part of the answer to this problem. The software maker revealed a slightly tweaked Windows logo as part of its Windows 10X announcement earlier this year. Windows 10X is designed for dual-screen devices, and it even has a new Start menu and no more Live Tiles.
The existing Windows logo, used in both Windows 8 and Windows 10, is a flat color, while the new logo looks more like a gradient of blue with each quarter representing a different color. Microsoft is also tweaking other areas of Windows 10X, including how you can quickly access the settings panels, the notification center, and more.
Microsoft’s icon work and Fluent Design has been a gradual process, and this will continue throughout 2020. The company’s Edge browser now has a new icon, and even Office itself has a more modern logo. There’s still much to be done, and Microsoft is even trying to tackle mobile design.
Microsoft designers are now working collaboratively internally in what’s described as an “open source” way. Read our full Microsoft design feature from earlier this year to find out how the company has learned from its mistakes to redesign its future.