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Do you like Microsoft's new colorful icons for Windows 10?

New icons
New icons (Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft is slowly rolling out a new set of icon designs for all its in-box apps on Windows 10, starting with the Mail, Calendar, and a number of other Windows accessory apps. These icons were first introduced on Windows 10X, but Microsoft plans to roll out these icons to all editions of Windows 10 in the coming months.

The new icons are quite the departure from the old flat icon style first introduced with Windows 8, being much more colorful with depth and shadows. I personally really like the new icons, as they give a breath of fresh air to the Windows design language, especially with Fluent Design evolving to include rounded elements.

Microsoft's old style of icon design was very sharp and robotic, which made sense when the "Modern Design Language" (MDL) was front and center, but MDL is long gone and Fluent Design is now the language Microsoft follows when building products. So it's about time that Microsoft updated Windows' icon aesthetic with something that goes along with the depth and charisma that Fluent Design brings with it.

I do agree, however, that the new icon design doesn't go well with the live tile interface present on Windows 10. I would hope that Microsoft is planning to replace the Windows 10 Start menu with the new one on Windows 10X at some point, as this would alleviate the odd clash of design languages which see's the new icons sitting on top of live tiles. They just don't go well together.

Microsoft's live tile game is long over. The feature itself hasn't been updated or improved in some time, and developers rarely, if ever, take full advantage of what live tiles have to offer. Not even Microsoft's own "Teams" app supports live tiles, which is frankly unacceptable. So I'd like to see the Windows 10X Start menu on Windows 10 at some point, as that follows Microsoft's new design language.

What are your thoughts on the new icons coming to Windows 10? Let us know in the comment and answer our poll!

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

46 Comments
  • not particularly liked it, but it is good to replace these relics from their failed attempt at touchscreenifying desktop interface. i remember how these supposedly "live" tile didn't live up to their name, even from first party apps. not to mention these first party apps that ignore their own transparent tile convention in wp 8.1 days
  • Apple and Android are touch first and they use icons and not tiles. So really this is a move back towards the industry standard that Microsoft created. To answer the question yes I prefer the new icons and support live tiles dying sooner than later
  • Actually one thing are live tiles and another the icon a live tile can have. I have seen a bunch of tiles with colourful icons. In fact, these new icons are already used now in the live tiles you can have in your start menu.
  • Well the new icons does not really make or break the touchscreen in Windows. Actually this new icon fits well with the Windows 10 X new UI, and that OS is design for dual-screen touchscreen device. It is a design shift moving away from monochromatic icons (inspired by metro and airport signages aimed for visibility and clarity), now to flat-3D icons. It is not skeuomorphic like the icons we used to have 10 years ago, but it like the flat icons but with depth and material.
  • No.
    But that's not because the icons are bad per se, it's more because I hate colourful stuff. Be it icons, accent colours or wallpapers.
    But meh...I can change them anyway (both on Windows and Android), so I'm fine. I'd hate to be an iOS user, though.
  • I much prefer the flat visuals. What they're doing now reminds me way too much of Windows Me.
  • I prefer the new icons, I disagree that they don't work well with tiles, I agree that tiles have had their time and I do regret that Microsoft didn't push them harder and support them better in their own apps.
  • Well if they made Live Tiles have Acrylic, rounded corners and shadows, also only make them dark gray or light gray depending on system theme, then new icons will still fit with redesigned Live Tiles. Since Live Tiles still remains being completely flat and uses theme color that may not match the icon color, considering most of the icons are blue. Then the new icons do not fit at all. There is a way to make things look good, but clearly Microsoft does not have the intention to go further with Live Tiles sadly.
  • I want the Live Tiles to stay and to be enhanced. Windows10X sucks.
  • Live tiles are now dead tiles. They are - thankfully - going away.
  • I want Live Tiles to go and be completely removed. I do agree with you that Windows 10X sucks. People that love live tiles and people that hate live tiles are in complete agreement that Windows 10X sucks! Great job Microsoft! Maybe you could add dark mode and Office-style ribbons to the parts of Control Panel that you still haven't been able to port over to the "Settings" app after 5 years of trying, then Windows 10 could have an even more horrific UI than it does now.
  • Thinking ahead to mobile devices support on Windows X, not surprisingly, Microsoft has once again taken a step backwards. Not only did they remove the functionality of live tiles, they do not even have the functionality equivalent of the android widgets. They need to think things through, a bit... sometimes. But I suspect that they collaborated with Google on this. Google cannot do live tiles as it would amount to copying. Now the path has been cleared for Google to not copy and still do live tiles (or live icons).
  • Android has had Live Tiles since the beginning. They are called widgets on Android. They do everything a Live Tile can and more.
  • That 'more' is called sucking battery life.
  • That argument may have had some merit in 2011, but it isn't an issue today. Any battery hit is going to be minimal.
  • Not really, since Live Tiles behaves like regular icons when you tap/click, it launches apps. Widgets are pretty much a micro-app, which has functionalities and not necessarily replacement to icons. Though I hope they just consider the Cards/Widgets from Microsoft Launcher for Windows 10 X and use that as a replacement for Live Tiles. This is I think a better way to move on from Live Tiles since there is something that will replace. Existing apps that uses Live Tile API can still have a basic Cards that just doesn't have interactivity. Basically a Wide Live Tile. Only then it will be full-blown widget if the developer take advantage of the new feature.
  • Windows Vista had widgets and no, they are not Live Tiles. This said, some of Android-based launchers (notably Launcher 10) do a very good approximation of the Live Tiles.
  • You can make a widget that operates exactly the same way as a "Live Tile".
  • And you can make a widget that operates exactly the same way as an "icon", "button", "dropdown control" or all of the above. This doesn't make widget any of those things. The main difference between a "widget" and a "live tile" is the enforced consistency of the behavior -- something the latter has and the former does not.
  • This can be also done with widgets, but the problem with Android Widgets is that they don't seem have a more strict or cohesive guideline to make widgets look uniform while having its own functionality. Windows 10 X can have widgets that have consistency of Live Tiles. Basically all rectangle/cards are same consistent width and preset hights, then buttons, text and other UI elements are constraint by grids. Resulting widgets that looks like 2x1/Wide Tile but with buttons, list, and other interactive functionalities.
  • Your form over function arguments are very "Applesque". If you want limitations and locked down software, they do it best. Just buy a Mac.
  • Did I even said about the limitations? Having UI guidelines or make UI consistent does not mean the actual functionality to be limited. Didn't even mention about Apple in here. Also no thanks, I'm still happy with my Windows desktop and Android phone at the moment. But does not mean I hate everything what the macOS and iOS/iPadOS has. The have some good things on them. Limitations is also mostly true for iOS but not for macOS which is also pretty flexible itself especially when you know around Unix.
  • I like live tiles still but I like the new icons
  • Looking good!!!! Can't wait to see them!
  • I sort of like them. As mentioned in the article, the don't go well with most of the elements in Windows 10 yet. Additionally I like colors, however I myself am a fan of flat designs. But that's my opinion.
  • <I did not want to write this as a reply>
  • I don't really care about the color of the icons, since I am more worried about Live Tiles going away. However after lamenting on this for a couple of days, now I see it actually as a positive sign. Removing Microsoft support of Live Tiles will probably give way for third-party solutions to come. Like Launcher 10 on Android, developers could bring custom solutions to the system for the same feature. And actually Launcher 10 does the job way better than Microsoft had ever supported it. The same applies for the icons. Once Microsoft manages to bring on icons that resemble nothing like Windows 10, I am pretty sure that somebody will simply upload them as an icon pack, and we'll have more sets to choose from. So frankly, I don't mind after all.
  • Only if they can be tiles
  • Office icons do have their own style that sets them a part from the rest. Some other icons are still fine (like Edge or Photos), but most are quite generic and some even stupid/ugly (like Your Phone).
  • I like the new icons. I also value live tiles as very necessary. I can only hope that someone at MS can merge the 2 together in an elegant way. Of course, if you're not a fan, you can always turn them off. Options are good!
  • I don't like them; I thought I use Windows but it looks like Android on my computer. This is an old-fashioned design. This is terrible...
  • Is it time for Windows Central to show its W10 App some love and move away from the old design?
  • I do like the new icons. It is refreshing and fits well with new Fluent Design language iteration. The problem like many do mention is they do not fit inside a Live Tile. I think there is more into that than just saying the new icons do not fit inside a square. The problem is that Live Tiles at least mostly use Theme Color that user chooses, and the new icons do not adapt to Theme Color, thus if you have orange theme color and have a Mail app, then you have blue icon clashing to orange box. One of the solution to fix this is to just force all Live Tiles that uses theme color to be only dark gray (dark theme) or light gray (light theme). This way the Tile color remains neutral and won't clash with the new icons. Then make the new Live Tiles have Acrylic, make it rounded corners and put subtle shadows behind. Then it will start make sense again.
  • So, for live tiles, the tile area (or size) was designed to give touch screens a better UI for touch, so to keep touch screens functional do they just hide the tile and if the area is touched it runs the program/app? Or does the tile area become dead space that does not respond?
  • I like them but they need to implement them all together. Just got the Mail one and now it's clashing with everything else.
  • Tiles tittles tale a lot of spaces on the screen. (Teams)
    I prefer new icône, with Fluent Design.
    Possibility to clear tiles with icons, as a frame (difficulty to understand ?)
  • Not a fan.
    Not because of live tiles, but because I personally prefer minimalistic design. The tile sizes left a lot of negative space on all sides of the flat icons which lets things feel open and inviting to my eyes. The various sizes of the tiles also allowed for variations so I could easily call attention to applications that I feel are more important to my day-to-day needs.
    These new ones are colorful and candy-like and will be just another grid of icons that I'll have to drone through. It definitely feels like a step back IMO. But I accept that I am in the minority.
  • My original post on this was more detailed, but just received error on post. Not willing to rewrite. In short, I like the colorful icons -- different colors makes it faster and easier to find an icon at a glance (I still miss when Outlook had a yellow icon so I could tell it apart from Word at a glance, don't understand why they changed the well known yellow Outlook icon so that it looked so much like the blue Word icon). At the same time, I also think Live Tiles are very important for a more portable, always-on device, as the Surface Neo is supposed to be. While I agree that they don't serve much purpose on a Start Menu (because it's only opened for a few seconds at a time to launch an app), they are vital on a Home Screen. iOS users get by without these somehow, but Android has the lesser Widgets to give info from many apps at a glance. This is one of the key reasons I dislike iOS. Live Tiles provide this same function more consistently and efficiently than Android Widgets (in terms of screen real estate).
  • Replaced mine with Office 98 icons.... All nostalgia with me!
  • Personally, i don't like files ans apps coming in overload from the back on the screen.
    I would like transparent tiles with frame (blue) and color of a accompaniment on center (grey ...) to form computer wallpaper screens (not touristic by default, seriously).
  • I like them yes, I hated the ugly flat icons, what a stupid idea, who asked for an ugly operating system?
  • If the icon could have theme color, it would be better. (my theme color is blue so it's fine, but it may not look good with so many blues for other theme color).
  • The old icons are easily distinguished one from another. They are small sized, fast, easily recognised. The new ones are too similar, will use more space in memory, and are solving a problem that didn't exist.
  • I think they have more icons to update and that file explorer is not new at all, but others looks nice.
  • I like them, but not for Windows. I think they look great for phones app though.
  • Do I even have an option? I mean if I hate it, they aren't going to revert back. :)