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article imageMicrosoft's Project NEON Windows 10 overhaul leaks to the world

By James Walker     Jan 6, 2017 in Technology
The first screenshots of Microsoft's upcoming Windows 10 UI overhaul, Project NEON, have been published online. The interface looks very different to the current release version, although it's meant to be an "incremental" upgrade that adds polish.
NEON's existence was first reported back in November. Windows Central revealed Microsoft is working on a new design language intended to make Windows look prettier and feel more consistent. Windows 10 is frequently criticised for its UI quirks and sometimes lacking style. Microsoft hopes to use NEON to bring some visual flair to the desktop.
Groove Music Project NEON concept artwork [Image via MSPoweruser]
Groove Music Project NEON concept artwork [Image via MSPoweruser]
This week, MSPoweruser published a series of screenshots that show NEON in its current state. The designs may change considerably before the public release but they are an indication of what NEON will entail.
NEON introduces a renewed focus on simplicity, stripping interfaces back down to their core components. Typography is a key element, bringing back one of Microsoft's most famous design experiments. The Metro styling of Windows 8 and Windows Phone was led by typography, something then almost entirely removed from Windows 10's MDL2.
Groove Music s on Windows 10
Groove Music's on Windows 10
The screenshots show how font size, positioning and weight will return as key elements of the Windows interface. Whitespace and padding around buttons, menus and icons is also making a return, bringing back the minimal feel of Windows 8.
Project NEON also aims to bring fluidity to the desktop. Animations will be used across Microsoft's built-in apps, creating a more premium feel. Blurred glass is also back in force, bringing back memories of Windows 7's much-loved Aero Glass window borders.
According to MSPoweruser, the blur effect is now known as the "Acrylic" UI component. Developers will be able to integrate Acrylic into side navigation bars, app backgrounds and sections of an app's content, extending Windows' new animations across their work.
Outlook Mail Project NEON concept artwork [Image via MSPoweruser]
Outlook Mail Project NEON concept artwork [Image via MSPoweruser]
Finally, Project NEON will also go a long way to solving Windows 10's consistency issues. There are currently major differences in how Microsoft's own apps implement core controls such as hamburger menus, navigation elements and search bars.
With NEON, Microsoft will pull it all together, creating a single style with formal guidelines that developers will be expected to adhere to. That will include Microsoft's own app teams, making Windows 10 feel as though it and its components were built by one company.
There's no word yet on when Project NEON will make it to public release. It's thought Microsoft is currently targeting the upcoming Redstone 3 update as the point when it will be integrated into first-party apps. Redstone 3 is expected to arrive late in 2017, after this spring's Redstone 2 "Creators Update."
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