Microsoft began rolling out new app icons for some in-box apps to those in the Windows Insider Program yesterday. The new colorful icons were first spotted in leaked Windows 10X materials, which are also making its way to Windows 10. While the firm talked about the refreshed icons last year, a new blog post on Medium provides further insight into the ideology behind these icons.
The company says that it sees icons as a means of wayfinding and that consistency is important to ensure that these icons help users navigate the OS since humans rely on subtle cues for navigation. It adds that the transition from flat, monochromatic icons to these colorful ones with depth was necessary as icons no longer are viewed only in tiles in places like the Start Menu. In doing so, the teams that built the icons did not move away from familiar iconography and evolved the Fluent Design language to maintain familiarity and consistency whilst modernizing the design.
With Microsoft building cross-platform experiences, the team notes that it was important to maintain familiarity even across platforms, which is why the introduction of depth and color to these icons brings cohesion across platforms such as Windows 10, Android, and iOS. The Redmond giant says that consistency in design is required to bring about a connection to the brand.
Interestingly, the blog post adds that the new designs that incorporate rounded corners are in line with “new rounded corners across the Windows 10 interface”, pointing at further design changes possibly coming to Windows 10 itself. The team claims that the redesigns are a part of their commitment to the evolution of the Windows OS, while it also keeps in mind the legacy that the OS brings.
Most users will begin seeing these new icons through app updates for the apps through the Microsoft Store. Mail and Calendar icons began rolling out to users in the Release Preview ring of the Windows Insider Program. In addition to the new icons that began rolling out for users in the Fast ring, more icons are expected to be updated in the coming months. It is, however, not clear as to when and how these updates will roll out to all general users.
In all, these refreshed icons bring about a fresh look for the OS and it wouldn’t be surprising to see more design changes to Windows 10 as a whole as part of the evolution of the Fluent Design language.