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Windows 11's Mica effect may soon come to Chrome

A Chromium logo with a frosted glass effect

Mica and Mica Alt are user-favorite design changes Windows 11 brought in late 2021. These fancy effects use your current wallpaper to create a highly-personalized experience in your applications, provide visual hierarchy, and increase clarity about which window is in focus. Unlike Windows Aero in the early days of Windows Vista, Mica and its variants do not strain your hardware as they only sample the desktop wallpaper once. Microsoft has already added the effect to many of its apps (returning soon to Edge in a better variant), and now the company wants Chrome to have the same eye candy.

A new change list from Microsoft on Chromium Gerrit (via) suggests a "minimal set of code change" to equip Chromium with an opaque tab bar (or title bar) on systems running Windows 11 version 22H2:

This CL demonstrates a minimal set of code changes to enable the Mica
Alt titlebar material in Chromium using Windows 11 22H2's new
DWMWA_SYSTEMBACKDROP_TYPE DWM attribute. It should be launched with the
--disable-windows10-custom-titlebar CLI argument for the effect to show.

This CL is for demonstration purposes only. It assumes Windows 11 22H2
or later, dark mode, and the default Chromium color scheme are in use,
and that high contrast mode and accent-colored titlebars are not.

Here is how Chrome may look with the Mica Alt effect applied to its tab bar:

A screenshot of Chromium with the Mica effect applied to its title bar
Chromium with the Mica Alt (darker) effect.
A screenshot of Chromium with the Mica effect applied to its title bar
Chromium with the Mica (lighter) effect.

It might take a while before we see Chrome offering a better-looking user interface on Windows 11. Still, it is great to see Microsoft contributing to Chromium with user-favorite design changes. Meanwhile, developers can learn how to implement Mica in the apps using the official documentation and code samples from the recently updated WinUI Gallery app.

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