Microsoft’s Windows 11 preview has been available for a few weeks now, but I’m always discovering new animations and details in this new operating system that make me smile. While the new Start menu and centered taskbar are the obvious changes in Windows 11 that you’ll notice right away, it’s the little animations throughout the operating system that really make it look fresher and more alive than ever.
Microsoft has started detailing some of the design approaches it used for Windows 11 and its attention to detail for everyday micro-interactions. This includes things like a checkbox with an animated check mark to subtly indicate when you interact with it, or a settings cog that spins when you hover over it. Many buttons in Windows 11 appear with faint signs of life or bounce as you move through the operating system.
It’s this attention to detail that makes Windows 11 feel fresh and new, yet still familiar to use on a daily basis. Animations are often fun but equally useful in providing an important visual cue for what you are interacting with. Fortunately, they’re not slow or boring in front of you, mainly because Microsoft designed them to be calming. “Calm is essential in today’s world … Windows 11 makes it easy with foundational experiences that feel familiar, soften the once intimidating user interface, and increase emotional connection,” says the design team at Microsoft.
While the subtle animations can be calming, the choice to center the taskbar and change the Start menu is the most striking change in Windows 11. “After listening to people express a need for more efficiency and less noise when using Start, we’ve designed a simpler and simpler experience that puts people at the center by prioritizing the apps they love and the documents they need, ”says the design team. from Microsoft. “It also adapts to modern device form factors and allows easier access for all screen sizes, from a Surface Go to an ultra-wide monitor. “
Windows 11 also improves the out-of-the-box (OOBE) experience when you first set up a machine. The settings you configure are much more useful than in Windows 10, including your PC name and setting up a PC for what you plan to use it for. Sometimes it’s the little things that count.
Microsoft has also added rounded corners to most parts of Windows 11, new iconography, and an updated Segoe UI Variable font. Like most of Windows 11, these are subtle changes that you don’t really start to notice until after you’ve been using the operating system for a few days. Microsoft even worked with design studio Six N Five to create most of the wallpapers you’ll see in Windows 11. They’re mostly centered to match the Start menu. “We want your journey to Windows 11 to be literally centered from the start,” Microsoft says.
However, the design of Windows 11 is certainly not perfect. It’s a work in progress, but there are still a lot of inconsistencies in this overview that need to be ironed out. Sometimes it still feels like Microsoft is mixing Windows from ten years ago with this modern, simple user interface. There’s a lot to be done to revamp something as big and sprawling as Windows, so hopefully the end product will soften up some of the early and rough edges.