Five years after its launch, Microsoft wants to “rejuvenate” Windows 10 with a design

This year's M1 chip version Mac's excellent performance in terms of performance and battery life directly detonated public opinion, and its comparison with Windows and Intel processors is endless.

However, Microsoft is not doing nothing. At the beginning of 2020, it announced that it had completed its goal of 1 billion active Windows 10 devices ahead of schedule, and a recent job posting from Microsoft made many Windows fans excited.

In an introduction to the recruitment of Windows user experience engineers, Microsoft wrote that "Carefully orchestrated and provided a comprehensive visual renaissance of the Windows experience to show our customers that Windows has returned and to ensure that Windows is considered the best user operating system for customers Experience

The implication is to make large-scale adjustments to the interface design of Windows 10. Although Microsoft removed the introduction of "Comprehensive Visual Renaissance" after being discovered by users, the rumors of adjusting the appearance of Windows 10 are not once or twice. It has appeared, and Microsoft has recently frequently adjusted the Windows 10 start menu, weather applications, etc., which also confirmed the authenticity of this news.

▲ Win10 start menu, the tiles are changed to semi-transparent, consistent with the background color

So, what kind of design change can make Microsoft say "Windows is back"?

Fluent Design, which has been implemented for several years, is not completely integrated

If you are a friend who is familiar with Windows 10, you will most likely think of a word-Fluent Design. In recent years, Microsoft has been promoting this design language. This time, the major revision of the Windows 10 interface is also related to it.

At present, some of the built-in applications on Windows 10 already have the Fluent Design design system. It is similar to Google’s Material design and Apple’s flat design style. It is also a flat design system based on single color squares, shadows, and contrast through different colors. Display level.

▲ Minimalist Fluent Design design style

The most special part of Fluent Design is also its core element, which is optimized around the five items of light perception, depth, animation, material, and zoom.

For example, in the start menu, hovering the cursor over the letter will present a kind of spotlight scattering effect, the letter is the brightest, and the surrounding brightness gradually decreases. There are many such examples. Interactive actions are shown through light and shadow effects, which can be easily seen even in a two-dimensional plane.

The depth is to add the Z axis to the graphic design, distinguish the content with different colors, contrasts and even shadows, trying to break through the two-dimensional plane, showing the visual illusion of depth. The Windows 10 setting interface is a typical representative, and we often see it now The blur effect of frosted glass is the embodiment of acrylic-like material design.

As for animation and zooming, they are trying to enrich people's experience with physical effects that are more in line with the real movement trajectory.

It can be said that Fluent Design not only inherits the Metro design on Windows 8, but also retains the popular frosted glass design style on Windows 7. Unfortunately, since 2017, Microsoft announced that it would apply this design system on Windows 10. Failed to complete system-level coverage.

The most typical is the comparison between the Windows 10 setting interface and the control panel interface. One is the obvious Fluent Design graphic design style, and the other is the Windows 7 era style. There is a strong sense of difference in use.

▲ The upper part is the control panel interface, and the lower part is the Windows 10 setting interface

In addition, there are system built-in applications such as the right-click menu, file manager, and operation center, all of which need to be adjusted to the Fluent Design style, which is a more modern interface in Microsoft's words.

In addition, Windows Central According to foreign media reports , the Microsoft Start menu might be adjusted again, which is similar to the Start menu on actual experience and Windows 10X, apparently hoping to make a habit of moving end user can seamlessly.

▲ The start menu on Windows 10X removed the tile design, and instead used a grid style similar to that of the mobile phone

But friends who like the old start menu don’t have to worry. Windows Central also mentioned that this interface update is different from the Windows 7 update to Windows 8. Users can freely choose the old and new styles in some functions.

After all, even Microsoft does not want to repeat the same mistakes. In the Windows 8 era, a large number of users resisted because of the removal of the start menu, and the system update rate was reduced.

▲ Windows 8 removed the start menu

It can be said that the focus of this interface update is the completion plan of Fluent Design in Windows 10, by adjusting a large number of system built-in applications to unify their design style and provide a consistent experience.

As for the release time, according to a report from the foreign media Windows Central, Microsoft named the Windows 10 interface change project "Sun Valley", which is expected to be officially released in the fall of 2021.

Of course, the actual time depends on Microsoft's progress. After all, due to the epidemic, there are many delayed ticket bounce events, but it is foreseeable that Microsoft will frequently make adjustments to the Windows 10 interface and built-in applications in 2021.

This is not because Microsoft launched a new "Weather and News" taskbar widget in early January.

Cross-domain, cross-device is the ultimate goal of Microsoft

Open the official website of Fluent Design, it is easy to find that Microsoft's goal for a consistent experience is not limited to Windows 10 systems.

The Fluent Design webpage not only contains design-related specifications, development tools, tutorials, etc. on Windows 10, but also involves web page, iOS, Mac, Android, cross-platform and other different fields and device content.

Moreover, Microsoft has also open sourced the source code of Fluent Design, and other developers can obtain the source code in the GitHub community.

There are many examples of using Fluent Design on the official Microsoft website, such as the light and shadow interaction mentioned above. Move the mouse in the Q&A area at the end of the introduction page of Microsoft's official website office 365, and the corresponding content will automatically show a deeper interaction at the edge of the content. Animation is easier to recognize.

▲ The place where the mouse is hovering will automatically deepen the shadow of the border and improve recognition

No matter whether it is cross-platform or open source, it is hoped to expand the influence of Fluent Design and promote a unified experience across devices and fields. In recent years, Microsoft has become more and more open, including cooperation with competitors Google and Apple. It also makes Microsoft products available. Reasons to provide a consistent experience across multiple devices.

Since office entered iPadOS, Microsoft has always been one of the active developers in the Apple ecosystem. At the WWDC Developer Conference held by Apple some time ago, Microsoft also appeared on the stage as a developer and showed off office software.

After the Mac switched to the ARM architecture, Microsoft was also one of the first developers to actively adapt the software. It is no wonder that many users ridicule Microsoft as the "best Apple ecological developer."

At the same time, Microsoft and Google also shook hands. Edge, the default browser of Windows 10, eventually adopted the same Chromium kernel as Chrome.

Of course, during this period, there was also the influence of Microsoft's Windows Phone's mobile trend. Due to the lack of support from third-party developers, Microsoft's desire to unify the multi-terminal experience of mobile phones, tablets, and computers through the iconic dynamic magnet finally fell through.

At present, the mobile terminal is already an oligarchic competition between Apple and Google. In addition, Microsoft's own appeal in the Windows 10 desktop version is not too strong, and the UWP store is still not active. It is unified through a unified design system such as Fluent Design. Microsoft services such as office have been experienced on multiple devices. Isn't it a new method?

A unified design style is conducive to improving the user's cross-device experience. After all, the learning cost of the application is reduced a lot. For example, the mobile terminal and the desktop terminal of the office are relatively similar in some operating logic, users can quickly become familiar with it, and it is easier to build Habits, continue to stay in Microsoft's product ecosystem.

Coinciding with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's development strategy of "mobile first, cloud first", Microsoft was able to temporarily lower the priority of the Windows system and free it from the previous shackles before letting it It is becoming more and more open and able to develop rapidly in the ecosystem built by Apple or Google.

▲Picture from: sunnygoklani

Now that the development strategy proposed by Nadella has made Microsoft's market value exceed one trillion US dollars and the revenue of the office series of software continues to increase, who can say that the initial failure is worthless to Microsoft.

Learn from failure

If you look closely, you can still observe many traces of Microsoft's previous products from Fluent Design, such as the iconic transparent frosted glass design, the graphic design style evolved from the dynamic tile, etc., all from Windows Vista and Windows 8.

What is interesting is that neither Windows Vista nor Windows 8, or even Windows Phone later, is not strictly a Microsoft product recognized by the public.

▲ Windows Phone. Picture from: Cnet

In fact, Microsoft's insight into the trend of the times is not weaker than that of Apple and Google. In some parts, it is even more advanced. For example, the dynamic tile design on Windows 8 and Windows Phone. Microsoft wanted to use it to unify mobile phones, computers and other multi-device terminals. The experience is similar to Apple’s unified design style on Mac, iPad, and iPhone today.

The Windows 8 system, launched in 2012, adopted a flat, flat design ahead of time. The following year, Apple launched a flat design on iOS 7.

However, advanced insights cannot directly make Microsoft successful. Whether it is Windows 8 or Windows Phone, there are various problems. Advanced dynamic tile design requires a period of time for users who are accustomed to mouse + keyboard. However, Microsoft's appeal to third-party software vendors is insufficient, and the software ecosystem has not been developed.

▲ Windows Store. Picture from: Windows Central

So far, the number of UWP applications in the Windows store is not too rich, and more importantly, many users have not established the habit of downloading software through the Windows store.

In recent years, Microsoft CEO's "mobile first, cloud first" has reduced the priority of Windows, and the speed has slowed down. Perhaps it is not a bad thing. This allows Microsoft more time to think about how to go. To do, Fluent Design obviously has learned from the experience of past failed products.

Even Microsoft has begun to make hardware. From the Surface series to the rumors of the previous development of ARM chips, Microsoft has clearly realized that software needs to be better played on the hardware stage.

▲Panos Panay

However, Microsoft fans don't have to worry too much about speed. In early 2020, Microsoft sent Panos Panay, the father of Surface, to take charge of the improvement of Windows product experience. Affected by the epidemic, Microsoft's time spent on Windows 10 increased by 75% compared with 2019.

Coupled with the major adjustments to the interactive interface and built-in programs in 2021, the Windows 10 experience can still be improved.

Perhaps it is the more suitable development method for Microsoft. After all, it involves 1 billion Windows 10 devices. Too radical may backfire.

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