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For many, the journey from Windows Vista’s Aero Glass to the Metro UI in Windows 8 and Windows 10 was a major step backwards, but I think few could have imagined just how radical some of Microsoft’s UI ideas were in the past.
Stephan Chapman has been posting historical mockups, pictures and video from the history of Windows, and today posted a short clip showing how Microsoft was considering adding ray-traced-like lighting animation effects to Windows 7.
Here’s a snippet from a fascinating, super-early Windows 7 prototype that really reimagines the desktop environment. I’d love to see something like this today taking advantage of raytracing to really accomplish some neat effects, interactions, etc.!
Chapman appears to suggest Microsoft rapidly dropped the idea, but it seems the skeuomorphic pendulum is swinging the other direction again (just look at the new Windows 11 shell icons), so who knows, maybe this UI concept will make a comeback.