Windows 11 brings a new design for the operating system and
apps, giving us a break from the metro interface that has been
around since Windows 8. Microsoft’s Fluent Design is an ongoing
design language journey and it’s evolving with every Windows
release, but it hasn’t touched every part of Windows and
With Windows 11, Microsoft is rethinking its Fluent Design
approach and implementing its new design language across all
its apps and pages.
As part of the Fluent Design overhaul, Windows 11 also comes
with a new design material called “Mica”. Mica is a dynamic
material that brings theme and desktop wallpaper closer, and
it’s noticeable when you’re browsing apps like Settings or
Edge. Mica material will paint the background of several app
windows and settings to create a visual hierarchy.
On Windows 11, Mica will be the most common design element and
it will show up across apps and the OS itself. Mica material is
not about transparency. Instead, it allows the desktop
background behind the window to focus blur through.
In the preview builds, you can notice the Mica material in File
Explorer, Settings, Microsoft Teams, and several other
Fluent Design’s acrylic is densely translucent and its
transparency effect is visible behind the app windows or
desktop background. On the other hand, Mica updates the app
windows to incorporate theme and desktop wallpaper, and paint
In a new question & answer
session, Microsoft explained that Mica material doesn’t
save desktop wallpaper every frame. Instead, “it only blurs the
image once” to offer better performance and experience than
“Performance is really a top priority for us and we want to
ensure that all these fun new functionalities (Mica and rounded
corners) are super fast and don’t impact the OS. For example,
Mica was specifically designed for higher performance when
compared to things like acrylic.
“For rounded corners, we optimized our rendering performance so
you shouldn’t notice any difference compared to square
corners,” the company said.
Microsoft is not copying Apple
Some people believe that Windows 11’s design elements like
centered Start Menu and rounded corners are inspired by macOS.
This is not true, according to Microsoft.
“Good design tends to be similar we learn from each other but
Fluent has been around
a long time and we’re evolving with how people use our device,”
said Kevin Gallo, head of the developer platform at Microsoft.
“You know that’s changing all the time as we just kind of use
devices in new novel ways and combine them… “You know they
might look familiar but our goal is that these things really do
you know feel natural normal,” he added.
The implementations of WinUI controls, Mica, and new Fluent
Design elements have started with
Windows 11 version 21H2 (October 2021 Update), but we’re
far from it being complete.
Windows is in the midst of a big redesign and it will take
several updates to fully realize the potential of Fluent