When Microsoft first announced the Windows Insider Program which promised to give Insiders early access to Windows 10, everyone was stoked; about the return of the Start Menu, about the refocus on mouse and keyboard, and about the new multi-tasking capabilities among other new features. But there was one aspect many testers weren’t happy about; the icons.
For some reason, maybe because it’s pinned by default, the Recycle Bin icon in particular seems to be at the center of all this attention, especially the one that’s coming in the next Technical Preview build. Do a Twitter search for “Windows 10 Recycle Bin” and check out the onslaught. It’s absolutely astounding how something as small, and dare I say as insignificant, can upset so many people.
“How ugly is the new Windows 10 Recycle Bin icon?” – Softpedia
One side of the argument is that the current icons in general are old. Not necessarily bad, just old. Many of the icons you may encounter on a daily basis including the Recycle Bin, the folder icons, and the various settings and system icons have been carried over from Windows Vista, which was released about 9 years ago. Again, the issue here is just that the icons are “outdated” and it was time for a change. Personally, I still think the Vista icons look pretty, but that’s just me apparently.
The other side of the argument is that the icons don’t conform to the Modern UI guidelines, and this I understand. While the rest of the OS moves towards a new design language, and especially now that Windows is unifying across the PC and the phone, it’s only fitting that the icons be part of that transition. Microsoft is clearly in the process of doing so, as over the last couple of Technical Preview builds, we’ve seen more and more Modern icons make the cut. Although there is clearly more work to be done. If you look at the image above, you’ll see icons originating from two or three previous versions of Windows. I can see how this can unnerve people.
“There are icons in Windows 10 that date back to the days of Vista. When half the world is running versions of Android that can be completely reskinned in seconds, this is unacceptable…” – Stuff
But it’s not just a matter of the icons. Other areas of Windows 10’s aesthetics have also come under fire, both on the PC, and more recently on the phone too. Here, new arguments present themselves; hamburger menus versus pivots, rounded corners versus square ones, and even the new toggle buttons are pitting people against each other. It’s not to say that the arguments are invalid, the fact of the matter is yes, there are inconsistencies all over the place, but here’s something to consider; when has an early build of Windows ever looked like the final result?
(Windows 8 Milestone 3)
Remember the first leaked images of Windows 8, the first Milestone builds? They looked like Windows 7, and they did for a long time. Aero was still there, and the circular Start Menu orb was left intact. Yet both were nowhere to be found by the time the Windows 8 RTM came out to play. And the same applies here. The Windows 10 Technical Preview is still in its infancy, and it will probably end up looking significantly different by the time it hits RTM. It might not be as stark of a difference as what Windows 8 ended up looking like, considering Microsoft is in a way building atop Windows 8 rather than slapping on a brand new design language this time around, but it will be different nonetheless.
“Microsoft isn’t thinking about icons or aesthetics right now”
My point being, Microsoft isn’t thinking about icons or aesthetics right now. The company is focused on putting in all the top features insiders are requesting, it’s focusing on Universal Apps that could potentially be a game changer if implemented correctly. The beautifying comes later. The only reason I think Microsoft has been modernizing the icons at this point in time in the Technical Preview is because of all this unnecessary demand. It doesn’t even seem like the company is actually doing them properly, it looks like it threw something together real quick just to stop the flow of icon change and Aero demands in the Feedback app, unfortunately that’s only making things worse.
“The new folder icons in Explorer are ugly” – PCPro
“Why did Microsoft even bother to include a “Theme” section in the Feedback app then?” I anticipate some asking. Well, simply because it knew the demands were coming and it needed a place to put them all. While I do not speak on behalf of Microsoft, based on Microsoft’s development history, I can assure you that the icons you see every day will change in Windows 10. Microsoft will probably run them through proper focus groups (not the Feedback app) to make sure they are generally accepted first before including them in the final builds. So rest assured, a change is coming, just don’t expect them right now. Let Microsoft focus on what’s really important at this point which is implementing new features.
@Angry_Aman You’re seeing early UX, we’re still working on many things, including icons. Your feedback helps us know where to focus.
— Gabriel Aul (@GabeAul) March 4, 2015
Also keep in mind that Microsoft will offer Windows 10 as a service, so updates will be coming in at a faster pace. If somewhere down the line the general consensus shifts and everyone starts despising the new Recycle Bin icon (again), Microsoft will be able to change it without having to wait for Windows 12 to come around first.
What are your thoughts on the state of the icons in Windows? Sound off in the comments below!Further reading: icons, Microsoft, Vista, Windows 10