Project Neon: Screenshots preview upcoming design changes to Windows 10's user interface

In November, details emerged of Microsoft's plans to refresh its Windows 10 user interface with new design elements. Being developed the under codename 'Project Neon', the changes are said to be part of wider plans to better integrate new mixed reality experiences coming to the OS, but the updated design will be evident to all users, not just those using the new Windows Holographic shell.

As part of those efforts, Microsoft is said to be keen to improve the aesthetics of its OS with greater consistency and stricter design guidelines. But the company also wants to developer a richer visual style for Windows 10, introducing new design elements, including updated animations, and more use of 'Aero Glass'-style blurring in apps.

Today, MSPoweruser published several screenshots giving us a clear look at some of the design directions that Microsoft is experimenting with. The images are said to have been captured from internal concept videos, which have not been made available publicly.

One major element of the updated designs is known as 'Acrylic', which will introduce a translucent blur effect to apps. The report also refers to the 'Conscious UI', signalling a more fluid interface that visually reacts to what else is happening on screen, whether in the background, or through the user's interactions.

This is also linked to 'Connected Animations', in which app interfaces change and flow as you use them. Recent public releases of Microsoft's Groove music app already feature some of these elements, including blur effects and panels that resize as you scroll. Two of the screenshots, shown above, show a possible updated design for Groove, including the background blur effect and a much cleaner design with bolder use of typography, a nod to Microsoft's original 'Metro' design guidelines.

In a further screenshot (below), an updated look for the Windows Mail app is shown, again revealing a less cluttered design with a greater emphasis on typography and icons. This screenshot also shows how the interface reacts to interactions - in this case, hovering the cursor over a menu item introduces a subtle 'glow' effect. On Windows Holographic devices, a similar effect could be used by tracking the user's gaze as they look around while wearing a headset.

The screenshots also show some minor changes to the Windows 10 taskbar, including a revised design for the date/clock indicator - but it's not yet clear if these changes will be implemented as part of the final designs.

In the next few months, Microsoft will release its next major update to Windows 10 - the Creators Update, also referred to as Redstone 2. But the Project Neon design changes aren't expected to arrive until the Redstone 3 update is released in the second half of 2017. However, as with its Groove app, we may well see the first signs of these new design elements appearing in Microsoft's Windows 10 apps before Redstone 3 rolls out.

Source and images: MSPoweruser

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