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Microsoft Fluent Design System is the design language guiding Windows 10's new look and feel

By Ng Chong Seng - on 11 May 2017, 11:30pm

Microsoft Fluent Design System is the design language guiding Windows 10's new look and feel

It’s no secret that Microsoft is testing new ways to improve the user interface and user experience of Windows 10. Codenamed ‘Project Neon’, we’ve already seen some of the new design elements in first-party apps, such as the Windows Store, Movies & TV, Groove Music, and Microsoft Photos apps, bundled in recent Windows 10 Insider test builds. But as Microsoft ramps up development for the Fall Creators Update, the company is ready to give it a marketing push to get more developers onboard.

Officially christened as the Microsoft Fluent Design System, this design refresh is primarily UI polish applied to Windows apps and system elements using blur, translucency (which Microsoft calls “acrylic”), animation, and parallax effects, as well as reworked buttons, indicators, etc. - all done in a tasteful manner, of course.

While Fluent Design will come into greater prominence when the Fall Creators Update arrives at the end of the year, Microsoft cautions against expecting a drastic visual overhaul. In the company’s own words, this is “a journey”, as the team is still experimenting and finetuning the design language along the way based on feedback. Which is prudent of course, as we don’t want Microsoft to overdo things, like having overly translucent windows and unnecessary glowing effects.

Microsoft seems to understand the concerns it’s heard so far. The company stresses that the redesign isn’t done just for the sake of it, but is driven by the new platforms that Windows 10 is increasingly getting on. For example, the old Metro design language is designed to emphasis on content, be it on Windows 8 PCs or Windows Phones, so it can get away with more focus on typography and less focus on graphics. But with Windows 10 embarking on a journey to be on everywhere, that became unsuitable in some cases. Metro thus evolved into MDL2 (Microsoft Design Language 2), which is what Windows 10 uses currently; and Microsoft Fluent Design System is the next logical step, after taking into account the new platforms and apps that Windows 10 is getting on and developing for, such as mixed reality environments, virtual reality gaming, and IoT applications.

With the Fall Creators Update, Microsoft is hoping its own first-party apps will lead this change and motivate developers to get onboard Fluent Design. With things like the new Adaptive Cards feature in the Bot Framework that allows developers to create cards that work and look good across multiple apps and platforms, Microsoft is hoping that developers would this time be more willing to follow its guidance.