Windows 8 gave us the Metro design language, and while that name didn’t stick around for too long, it did set up a foundation for the Modern design language – also known as MDL2 – in Windows 10.
MDL2, at the moment, is used all around Windows 10 – but Windows 10 is the victim of gross inconsistencies. The Modern design is followed in some places, while it is ignored in others. There is also no standard guidelines for Modern design – unlike Google’s Material guidelines, which help 3rd party developers in designing the user experience for their apps.
Microsoft plans to change all of this with the Redstone 3 update – which, by the way, has some other big plans in the pipeline as well.
The new design language is called ‘Project NEON’ and has been under development at Microsoft for a bit more than a year, according to Windows Central.
It appears to be yet another evolution of the Modern design language; while it does change up quite a few things – it is important to emphasize that this is an evolution, and not an overhaul.
There aren’t a lot of details just yet, but it appears that Project NEON is meant to be a bridge between the upcoming Windows Holographic shell and the traditional Desktop interface. A user interface that would suit both needs – it will apparently feature real-world textures, 3D models, lighting, animations, and more.
That sounds quite a bit different from the current MDL2 design language – but as far as the reports suggest, it’s not that different.
This is the important bit – as mentioned, Microsoft plans on finally making a documented design guideline for 3rd party app developers to use. Along with that, UWP apps would also (hopefully) get the standard controls – so developers don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
Microsoft should – if it isn’t already – take some cues from Google – not only is Material Design a success on Android, its simple design elements, and pleasant animations have found their place on several products outside of Android as well.
You know you have your hands on a good design language when developers voluntarily use it for platforms other than Android.
As mentioned, Project NEON is planned to show up with the Redstone 3 update – except, the Windows Insider program exists; the Windows Insiders would probably get their hands on the new design and have a chance to look at its intricacies quite a while before everyone else does.
If Project NEON is indeed meant to be a bridge between the Windows Holographic Shell and Desktop environment, then parts of it should start showing up before even the Creators Update is out – the Windows Holographic Test App was added in the latest Fast Ring Insider Preview, after all.
There is plenty of time left until we have a chance to look at Redstone 3 proper – but of course, since Windows 10 now forms the foundation of almost every Microsoft product, the design language changes would ripple onto other devices such as the Xbox One as well.