Since last February, Windows 10 began to receive its first batch of new Office-style icons. This is a major redesign that will affect more than 100 Microsoft products, including the Windows icon itself, and that have already started to appear in stable versions of Windows 10.
This effort to update the design of the main system icons It has to do with the next release of Windows 10X, a new version of Windows 10 special for dual-screen devices and that will have a start menu more in the style of mobile launcher with great prominence of the icons. The problem is that on the usual desktop, this adds another layer of design inconsistencies.
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Windows icon salad gets another ingredient
Windows 10 is close to turning five years old, and with almost a dozen different versions, the changes through these have been significant, but at the same time Microsoft has been, ironically, consistent in only one thing: the inconsistencies.
Windows 10’s unified interface remains an unattainable ideal, and the new icons come to build on that foundation, one more layer of new design on top of ten other legacy components that have been inherited for more than a decade.
The new icons follow the design lines of Fluent Design, and come to replace the style of flat monochrome icons “modern” style that initially arrived with Windows 10. But along with those icons we have many more.
There are the icons of old system applications such as Paint, which have been the same for more than 10 years and that were used in Windows 7. We have the control panel icons that, although they have been updated since Windows 7, still do not follow the same lines of the new icons, nor those of the old ones.
We also have monochrome icons of some apps such as the Xbox or the Xbox Game Bar that have shadows for some reason. Even the file browser itself has a variety of different styles for folders. The ones that appear in the start menu are different from those that appear in the explorer, and different from those that you find in the control panel.
When Microsoft itself is not consistent with the design of its own icons, you can expect little from third-party applications
And all of that is without even mentioning any third-party tools, which are usually the ones that take the longest to update their design to fit the system, or just never do.
We have apps from the Microsoft Store whose icons are a square which looks acceptable as a tile, but awful on the taskbar, and now we have to wait for them to be updated to Fluent style, if anything.
Microsoft has obvious plans to change several things in the design of Windows 10, it is almost certain that the Live Tiles will disappear altogether, something that would make the square icons end up colliding even more with the rest.
This is a problem that has haunted Windows forever, but with all the transformations that the interface has undergone, especially after it was Windows 8, it is increasingly frustrating the state of the Windows 10 design.
It’s also not something that has a high chance of changing or even improving, especially since a lot of this issue is due to legacy components that Windows really can’t afford to do without for compatibility, but which also don’t seem to be important enough to give them a design-level facelift.