Windows 8 toast notification animations could have been way different

A display showing live tiles on Windows 8

Over a week ago, we found out that Microsoft's former CEO Steve Ballmer had pushed for Cortana to be named "Bingo" in his final days as CEO. Tidbits of information like these emerge from time to time and offer an interesting look at the internal proceedings at companies like Microsoft. Now, we have found out that the animation of dismissing toast notifications in Windows 8 could have been considerably different.

This insight comes from Microsoft's Raymond Chen, who notes that the public eventually saw toast notifications in the upper right corner of Windows 8, which could be dismissed by swiping them to the right - similar to the swiping behavior also present in Windows 10 and Windows 11 -, which can be seen below:

A GIF showing toast notification dismissal behavior in Windows 8

According to Chen, a senior Microsoft executive actually campaigned for notifications to be pulled to the left, so that when you lift your cursor, they zoom to the right, similar to a rubber band. This animation can be seen below:

A GIF showing toast notification dismissal behavior in Windows 8

While Chen doesn't disclose the name of the executive involved, he does mention that the design team was eventually able to convince them to drop the idea. Chen jokes that maybe their argument was that the design ideology of the OS was to "reject physics", he notes that the real reason was probably that the swipe left behavior would have been wasted on a "stupid" animation.

In hindsight, it's good that Windows 8 did not go down the path of this animation, but the identity of the executive who lobbied for the rubber band animation is anyone's best guess. If their idea had been pushed forward, who knows if it would have made its way to Windows 10 and Windows 11 too?

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