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Update should please some Windows 7 fans

For those bemoaning the matte color textures of Windows 10, more relief is on the way, according to Microsoft Corp. (MSFT).  The new addition can be summarized in a word -- transparency.

I. Aero Glass's Comeback, Evolution

The comeback of semi-transparent windowframes was spotted by savvy bloggers last month's at Microsoft's Windows 10 press event.  This week Windows engineering manager Gabriel Aul finally confirmed that the effect was coming, in a post to his Twitter, Inc. (TWTR) microblog. The effect closely resembles the Aero Glass style from Windows 7 and Windows Vista, although the overlays are still Modern UI (better known as "Metro").  For lack of an official name for this updated transparency look it's convenient to call it "Modern Glass" (Modern UI + Aero Glass).

From what we've seen so far there are some clear differences between Modern Glass and Aero Glass.  Aero Glass had rounded window edges, thin inner (white) and outer (black) windows stroke effects, and the Aero Peek and app windowframes also had heavy shadow effects (although the Start Menu and taskbar lacked the drop shadow).
 
Windows 7
Windows 7 Ultimate (virtual machine) -- Aero Glass [Image Source: Redmond Pie]

Windows 7 -- Aero Glass
Windows 7 Aero Glass [Image Source: Wikimedia Commons]

Thus far Modern Glass has scuttled the border strokes and has switched frames to sharp edges.  This should help to reduce the rendering loads when you have a lot of windows open as there's no specialist blending work to do at the frame and windows can now be represented as a simple 2-triangle polygon.

Windows 10 Modern UI
Windows 10 -- Modern Glass [Image Source: Microsoft]

 
A second point to note is that we can predict that the shadow effect of Aero Glass, won't go away altogether, but it will be lessened.  This is the same trend we see in Microsoft's opaque windows style for Windows 10.

Windows 10
Shadows are softened in Windows 10. [Image Source: Jason Mick/DailyTech]

Microsoft sort of leaked news of this change back at its January press event, as the press images and the previewed build showed a transparent Taskbar and Start Menu.  The press images make it clear that Modern Glass is a cross-platform look that should be available in most -- if not all -- Windows 10 devices.

Windows 10 -- cross platform

The Aero Glass look was quite popular among some users and among various app makers.  It seems likely that the effect will also be made available for Window panes for Modern UI and Desktop apps alike.

Many DailyTech readers ["inighthawki ", "In2Boost", and "Reclaimer77", for example] requested this feature to make a comeback, so it seems like there will be some happy campers out there.  On the flipside the good news is that the Aero hater crowd [including "Spuke", "Flunk", and "Anticrawl", for instance] -- which at times was also pretty vocal on DailyTech back in the Windows Vista and Windows 7 era -- should be able to easily disable the effect.

Customization is what both Aero lovers and Aero haters demanded and Microsoft appears to have finally listened.  And even better its managers are openly involving the public with this process to get feedback and clue them in to these upcoming changes.

It's also worth noting that among the critics of the Aero look, more than half listed poor performance and incompatiblity on low end motherboards/devices as a contributor to their negative opinion.  By dropping the largely unnecessary frame flourishes of Aero Glass, Microsoft's more minimalist new Modern Glass look is sporty enough to run on even a mid-range smartphone.  With performance penalties largely erased, some Aero haters may come to a more neutral opinion on the style.

II. New Insider Preview is Almost Ready to Roll

Microsoft is prepping a successor to last month's Build 9926 Insider preview of Windows 10.  With current build traffic being carried out largely on the openly tracked fbl_impressive branch (with build numbers >10,000), Microsoft has deployed a trio of patches that appear to be partially made in preparation for the next Insider preview release.  The next build may turn on the new semi-transparent "Modern Glass" style.

Windows 10

Eventually it would be nice for Microsoft to allow full customizations -- adjust the softness/hardness of styles, tune the transparency, turn rounded window edges on/off, and turn inner/outer border strokes on/off.  Implementing such customization in an easy to use manner and without a major performance penalty would be challenging, though, so we'll likely have to wait for future Windows versions to take those steps.

In related news, Microsoft is reviewing the promising File Explorer UI concept presented by Serbian designer "SolMiller" has gained substantial traction amongst Redditors and has received more than ten thousand upvotes on Microsoft's uservoice.com platform for tester suggestions.

Windows 10 -- file explorer
Microsoft is checking out Serbian designer SolMiller's File Explorer UI concept. [Image Source: uservoice]

Microsoft's Gabriel Aul confirmed in a Twitter post that Microsoft is examining the concept carefully. Little is known about the designer involved with the concept, but it's clear that it's appealing to many.

Sources: Gabriel Aul on Twitter [1], [2], via Neowin





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