For the last few years, Microsoft has been on a comeback. The company has captured the developer audience by acquiring GitHub and reviving it, as well as building the world’s most popular code editor, VS Code, and bringing Linux to Windows 10.
Despite that success capturing the developer market, however, Microsoft struggled to find traction that got them to embrace building great new native apps for Windows. While Windows 10 was a huge upgrade that got better every year, it was riddled with inconsistencies, visually left a lot to desire, and had a messy story for those that did want to build apps.
Windows 11, which will be released later this year, is poised to change that with a total visual overhaul to the operating system, and the way apps are built. It’s a vast redesign that heavily uses transparent, glassy elements, moves the start menu to the middle of the taskbar, moves away from the animated ‘live tiles,’ and introduces well-considered, new design patterns for the first time in years.
But, what’s striking about Windows 11 is that it’s extensive, reaching to the wider operating system as a whole — instead of some corners receiving design updates, and others still looking like they came straight out of Windows 2000. For the first time since Windows Vista, Microsoft has taken the time to focus on bringing its new visual design language everywhere, and made it easier for developers to take advantage of it.
While Windows 10, which was first released in 2015 also came with a visual refresh dubbed Modern UI, which was an extension of the colorful, blocky Metro design language introduced in Windows 8. It was a promising improvement, but the problems were obvious from the start: Microsoft adopted its design language inconsistently between its own apps, and even built-in apps, which should have been a demonstration of how to use Modern UI well. Worse still, few developers properly implemented the new design language, if at all.
The most obvious place in Windows 10 where this friction showed was the Settings app. Not only was it clunky and poorly…