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Microsoft giving developers access to Fluent Design for Win32 apps and more

Alongside some of the bigger announcements at Build 2018, Microsoft has made a few smaller, but equally interesting reveals. Among them is news that the Fluent Design System, which Microsoft first debuted at Build 2017, is expanding beyond Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps.

Developers will soon be able to add Fluent Design flourishes to apps, regardless of which UI stack is being used. That means Fluent Design can be applied to native Win32 apps. Microsoft explains (opens in new tab):

  • Updates helping you support the Fluent Design System, so you can create immersive, deeply engaging experiences with Microsoft's updated design language. Now every organization can make beautiful solutions that empower your customers to do more. With UWP XAML Islands, you can access the more capable, flexible, powerful XAML controls regardless which UI stack you use—whether it's Windows Forms, WPF, or native Win32.

Microsoft's Fluent Design System is an evolution of Microsoft's design language for Windows 10. It includes a number of new design elements that add new animations, blur, and an air of fluidity to apps that take advantage of it. We've already seen elements of Fluent Design make their way to Microsoft's apps and portions of Windows 10 since its debut, as well as a number of third-party apps.

Microsoft says it will have more to share during the Build 2018 day two keynote, so it's likely we'll learn more about how this will work in time. However, it's a promising sign that elements of Fluent Design will be available to a broader collection of apps.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the Editor in Chief for Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl. Got a hot tip? Send it to

  • Amazing news
  • Nice, but its usefulness is limited. The most useful and irreplaceable Win32 apps are stuck with Win95 era design, and that's not because of lack of possibilities. And the ones that aren't won't use it anyway, as they have their own designs by now...
  • You talking rub****. There been numerous interfaces over the years.
    Win95 32 core, Internet explorer web based integrated programs, .Net, Ribbon interface and now UWP.
  • This will bring fluent to win 7
  • Hmm...definitely no.
  • I feel this is a slight copout for developers who don't want to switch to the new system, and I've read articles on developers being lazy, or that UWP doesn't allow fine grained control. But I feel like UWP is robust and mature enough 5 yrs in, that they're just stuck in the old ways. UWP apps are so freakin' responsive and scale really well, and the only reason I can't use the touch environment is because apps like PS and Ai haven't committed to UWP and are sluggish, unresponsive and don't scale well.
  • People are lazy indeed (esp when there's no benefit). Sometimes it's not worth porting, too risky to port if a application is too complicated, might as well code a new one. Faster this way. Old tech needs to adapt new environment, there's no magical button for... just about pretty much everything in our life. I once saw someone complain about running AutoCAD on HoloLens. Saying there's no magic therefore all those promotional vids (introduce under development applications from business partners) must be fake... 1. old app needs to find their footing with new control scheme (e.g. the control of Fortnite on phone is bad, you just can't do direct port like that...). 2. It's not a toy for consumers, why do you buy it if you are not coding anything new? Software / api deprecation has its reason.
  • The day UWP apps provide the same functions or more then their Win32 counterparts is when it will make sense to use them. Why would a developers waste time to code for UWP if the users prefer to use their old Win32 apps due to better functionality? Very simple apps could just as well be done as PWAs now anyway if the program is so simple it will have no higher functionality then a webpage anyway.
  • Great great news! Obviously it's related to CSHELL that will replace Win32 shells. Road to the consistent UI/UX in every element of Windows 10. Hopefully to see that starting with RS5!☺💕
  • Yes! Just yes!
  • When I first heard Satya Nadella said about Fluent Design on Win32, I thought it was just a mistake or trying to throw some buzzwords how much progress they've done. So this is actually happening which is great! Here is a thibg though, Microsoft should also take their own medicine and use this to update the looks of the Win32 compnents and area in Windows 10.
  • They already start taking their own as we will get dark mode in RS5 this Fall☺.
  • Before anyone goes "UWP is dead..." in the comments, just remember that these are the same "traditional" developers who operate on their own timescale, have their own branding and UI and often want nothing to do with more modern form factors. Basically, the only win32 developers who will make use of this is Microsoft, presumably for the office apps.
  • This is quite true. old win32 won't adapt. Only freshly made, new one will,
  • Microsoft themselves seems to have shifted focus to promote PWAs right now. For lighter apps that might make sense but just like with UWP the general public and companies wont switch to using the never applications until they provide the same level of functionality or higher then they have today.