Windows 11 saw the Settings panel decorated with new animations in a new preview version of the operating system.
As Rafael Rivera, a Microsoft MVP, pointed out on Twitter (via XDA developers (opens in new tab)), animated navigation icons are an experiment in Windows 11 build 25188.
Microsoft is experimenting with the idea of animating settings navigation icons (vso/feature 34878152, Windows Insider Build 25188) Microsoft’s design team calls these delicious unexpected moments joy with purpose pic.twitter.com/2zYmbqg97NAugust 25, 2022
As you can see in the tweet above, the animations are simple tapping, so when you hover over the Time & Language icon, for example, the globe rotates, as do the hands of the little clock.
If you’re on the dev channel and you have this latest preview version, but you don’t see the animations in Settings, it’s because Microsoft is only testing them with a limited number of Windows Insiders to begin with.
In other Windows 11 news, we also heard latest windows (opens in new tab) Microsoft is working on fixing a bug with the taskbar that can cause a delay of a few seconds when it comes to icons actually appearing on the taskbar – or even longer in some cases.
This is very irritating, but the report states that Microsoft is aware of this issue and is working on a fix, and in addition, this solution that will kick off further improvements in overall responsiveness, such as pinning apps to the bar. This promises to be a very useful improvement, although issues like this shouldn’t be present in the first place, of course.
Analysis: Moments of joy – or not?
These animated icons in the tests provoked a very polarized response. Some like the effect, or even love it, and think it adds a little life to the interface. We can certainly see the argument that it’s good to introduce some flair and personality into the UI. As Rivera points out, Microsoft has a philosophy of adding movement (opens in new tab) for the Windows 11 interface, rather than having a purely static environment, and calls these touches “unexpected moments of joy”; but for some they are not particularly cheerful.
These are the commentators who think these animations are an unnecessary mess, a case of trying to do too much with the interface. And naturally, with very little moments as these add up, there will be some concerns around any potential system slowdown (certainly on less powerful PCs).
However, the obvious point to placate naysayers is that Microsoft will certainly put in an option to be able to turn off these animations if necessary (and of course it will be necessary from an accessibility point of view for some users).
In fact, further down the thread of his tweet, Rivera observe (opens in new tab) that currently these new animations for Settings are linked to the Animation Effects slider (under Accessibility > Visual Effects), so if you turn this off they will be banned. There’s no reason to imagine that this won’t be the case if these animations make it to the full release of Windows 11.
Note that for testers in the dev channel who aren’t seeing this feature, it’s apparently possible to force implementation of the animations, but we really don’t recommend doing so. Be patient as we should see a wider rollout to testers soon if it looks like this feature is going anywhere. And if it isn’t, well then it doesn’t really matter anyway.