Microsoft fixed Fluent Design’s most stifling limitation at Build

Last year, Microsoft launched Fluent Design, its new design language for Windows 10 and Microsoft products in general. With the Fluent Design System, developers could add motion, transparency and parallax among others to their Windows 10 apps easily.
This was aimed at reducing design inconsistency in Windows with a new, more modern design language that would make it more pleasant to use Windows. The company quickly began transitioning its Windows apps to Fluent, and most – if not all of Microsoft’s Windows 10 apps now sport Fluent design.

Earlier this year, the Register pointed out an obvious flaw with Microsoft’s strategy:

Alas, aside from Microsoft’s own apps and a smattering of third-party apps created for popular services like YouTube and Twitter, there are few Fluent Design-toting apps to be found. Fluent is limited to that relatively small number of apps written just for UWP and XAML.

But to become viable and gain traction, developers would like to see a larger user base than they’d normally get from targeting the entire Windows footprint, and not just Windows 10. Popular consumer apps like Google’s Chrome are not being written to Microsoft’s UWP.

Microsoft has recently scored points with apps like Spotify, Slack, iTunes, Evernote and Photoshop in the Microsoft Store, but many are coded using the old Win32 APIs, and therefore do not make use of Microsoft’s new UWP-only design frameworks. While some such as Spotify attempt to mimic the new design language somewhat, the experience is markedly different.

While Fluent Design did not take off at the time, Microsoft has now made some changes, bringing Fluent to classic, old style Win32 apps at Build this week. With Microsoft meeting developers where they are on the web, and on the Win32, the chances of a regular everyday user seeing Fluent, and of that improving Windows design consistency have now drastically improved.

That said, the onus still remains on developers to actually update their apps for Microsoft’s newest APIs with XAML It remains to be seen if mainstays like Chrome, Spotify and Slack, for example, will jump on Fluent when its made available over maintaining their own very distinct design languages,

No matter how it progresses going forward, Microsoft has at least eliminated the barrier that kept Fluent design from being more ubiquitous than it has been, and that’s a big win for the firm.

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