Thank goodness—Windows 11’s emoji could finally get the update they deserve. Microsoft distinguished designer Nando Costa now confirms that the company is still working on 3D “Fluent Design” emoji for Windows 11. These 3D emoji will replace the boring 2D emoji that Microsoft introduced to Windows 11 last year—in some apps, at least.
On January 28th, Nando Costa discussed Microsoft’s 3D emoji design process in a detailed blog post. Costa explains how the 3D emoji came to life during a 2020 hackathon, where Microsoft designers took customer feedback and the Fluent Design principles of Windows 11 to try and make emoji more expressive.
Microsoft’s first 3D emoji tests looked child-like, as if they were made of clay. Designers enjoyed the idea of using inorganic, expressive shapes, and even toyed with the idea of adding fingerprints to the emoji so they’d look hand-made.
These ideas were refined a bit, and the fingerprint idea disappeared when Microsoft’s designers realized that the emoji would often be too small to show details. It seems that Microsoft is now sticking to the 3D emoji design that debuted alongside Windows 11.
Thank you and agreed! We're working on that. 😅
— Nando Costa (@nandocosta_art) January 28, 2022
While there’s still no timeline for the 3D emoji’s release, we’re happy to hear that Microsoft hasn’t abandoned the idea. People were incredibly disappointed when Windows 11 got a set of 2D emoji in October of 2021. And what’s worse, Microsoft employees who responded to early complaints didn’t seem to know anything about the 3D emoji.
Unfortunately, we have a feeling that the 3D emoji won’t appear in all Windows 11 applications. Microsoft may have introduced its new 2D emoji for situations where the 3D emoji won’t work, such as browsers or word processors.
For what it’s worth, Microsoft hasn’t clarified where it will use the 3D emoji in Windows 11. The company could force these emoji to show up in all apps, replacing the 2D versions entirely. But that outcome seems a bit unrealistic, and applications or websites that render their own emoji may never get 3D emoji.