Microsoft appears to still be working on true 3D emoji for Windows after first teasing it last year and then only shipping 2D versions in Windows 11. Nando Costa, a distinguished designer at Microsoft, revealed recently that the company is still working on making Windows 11’s emoji look more 3D.
On Friday, Costa authored a blog post on Microsoft’s new direction for its emoji system, detailing the company’s push towards 3D after a 2020 hackathon. Responding to a tweet from someone wanting 3D emoji in Windows 11, Costa says “We’re working on that,” with a grinning face with sweat emoji. We still don’t know when 3D emoji will appear in Windows 11, but at least Microsoft is still working on bringing its original vision to life.
While Microsoft unveiled impressive 3D emoji and promised they would be part of Windows 11, the company surprisingly reverted to a 2D flat design without explanation. It was likely because a flatter 2D design works better across multiple applications. There could also be some technical limitations in Windows that Microsoft needs to work through before 3D emoji are a reality.
Costa’s blog also details how Microsoft chose to reflect human qualities like wrinkles and hair styles in its emoji, how the team makes these emoji pop in apps like Microsoft Teams, and how some of its custom designs were inspired by “the new reality of a hybrid workplace.” Microsoft used tools like Adobe Illustrator, Maxon’s Cinema 4D, Figma, Font Lab, and others to create its 3D emoji.