Microsoft is beginning to upgrade some of the core parts of Windows 10 by improving the system icons available in the operating system. A new version of Windows 10 preview is available for testers this week and includes system icons that now adhere to Microsoft’s Fluent Design style.
The new icons include a more rounded and simplified look and are available as a new font – Segoe Fluent Icons. Microsoft has also updated its new taskbar widget with the new icons, providing a good look at how major icon changes can upgrade even the smallest parts of Windows.
This is a small change to Windows 10 that will appear later this year for most, but it’s part of a wider pressure from Microsoft to overhaul Windows 10. Microsoft updated some of its Windows 10 icons last year with color versions and even tweaked the Start menu to be a little more streamlined.
Microsoft is also planning a “comprehensive visual rejuvenation of Windows” codenamed Sun Valley. It may seem that Microsoft has been promising visual repairs to Windows 10 for years with its Fluent Design, but even bigger changes to the user interface appear to appear later this year.
The Windows Start menu, File Explorer, and embedded applications are expected to be repaired as part of this UI refresh. Even basic things like buttons, controls and sliders in apps should inspire some designer love. This should mean that Windows will look much more consistent, and hopefully many of the ancient icons and prompts of the Windows 95 era are starting to disappear.
Microsoft has worked hard to improve its UI consistency in Windows 10X, an upcoming version of Windows that will be designed for Chromebook-like devices. Windows 10X includes a new Start menu and many changes to basic controls such as Wi-Fi, the Notification Center, and more. It looks like a bare, simpler version of Windows.
The way Microsoft is launching Windows 10X may be a hint of where it sees Windows heading in the future. Rumor has it that the company is preparing to use the “new Windows” as a marketing term, and we expect Microsoft to have a lot more news about Windows soon. Microsoft is planning events in the coming weeks to detail its future plans for games, Windows and more.
While Microsoft held its Ignite conference this week, the company didn’t have much to say about Windows. Microsoft’s head of Windows and devices, Panos Panay, acknowledged that the news was still on the way. “I haven’t talked about the next generation of Windows and what’s next,” Panay said during an Ignite session earlier this week. “I am so inflated. The future of Windows is amazing, but today we are here to talk about Windows 10. “
It’s unusual to hear Microsoft talk about its “next generation Windows,” especially since the company has been sticking to the Windows 10 brand since its debut nearly six years ago. I don’t think that means we’re going to see Windows 11, but how Microsoft separates Windows 10 and Windows 10X will be key to avoiding confusion (hello, Windows RT). This is especially true if Windows 10X does not support older desktop applications at startup, as our recent look at the operating system suggests.