Microsoft is finally preparing to refresh its Windows 95-era icons. The software giant has been slowly improving the icons it uses in Windows 10, as part of a “sweeping visual rejuvenation” planned for later this year. We saw a number of new system icons back in March, with new File Explorer, folder, Recycle Bin, disk drive icons, and more. Microsoft is now planning to refresh the Windows 95-era icons you still sometimes come across in Windows 10.
Windows Latest has spotted new icons for the hibernation mode, networking, memory, floppy drives, and much more as part of the shell32.dll file in preview versions of Windows 10. This DLL is a key part of the Windows Shell, which surfaces icons in a variety of dialog boxes throughout the operating system. It’s also a big reason why Windows icons have been so inconsistent throughout the years. Microsoft has often modernized other parts of the OS only for an older app to throw you into a dialog box with Windows 95-era icons from shell32.dll.
Hopefully this also means Windows will never ask you for a floppy disk drive when you dig into Device Manager to update a driver. That era of Windows, along with these old icons, has been well and truly over for more than a decade now.
All of this work to improve the consistency of Windows is part of Microsoft’s design overhaul to Windows 10, codenamed Sun Valley. The visual changes are expected to appear in the Windows 10 21H2 update that should arrive in October. Microsoft has not officially detailed its Sun Valley work, but a job listing earlier this year teased a “sweeping visual rejuvenation of Windows.”
Microsoft has so far revealed new system icons for Windows 10, alongside File Explorer icon improvements, and more colorful Windows 10 icons that appeared last year. Rounded corners will also be a big part of Sun Valley, alongside changes to built-in apps and the Start menu.
We’re expecting to hear more about Sun Valley at Microsoft’s Build conference later this month, or as part of a dedicated Windows news event.