The New Microsoft Emoji: A Review

The Microsoft design team unveiled new emoji today, and boy, are they something! Clippy is back, baby!

The Microsoft design team revealed a drastically different set of emoji this morning, to my surprise! Before we get to the scoring phase, let’s take a closer look at some of the changes.

A Kinder, Friendlier Clippy (citation needed)

The current style of Microsoft emoji are — to put it charitably — more practical than expressive. They’re all about flat colors, chunky black outlines, generally qualities easier to reproduce and scale across different devices. But at least that flat style feels honest. Clippy looks friendly, but like they’re welcoming me into an Office subscription or grammar-correction startup.

Family Resemblance

emoji work from home
A, uh, happy family. Image via Microsoft/Medium.

Other forms of expression didn’t fare quite as well, like this father-and-child combo. The odd spacing between the child’s eyes and mouth is less “I love coparenting” and more “Jooooin ussss.” The identical stares don’t help either. We should see a wider range of people closer to launch, but this first glimpse isn’t optimistic.

emoji say no
Just say no. Image via Emojipedia.

GUIs Just Wanna Have Fun

emoji assorted faces
The full spectrum of emotion. Image via Microsoft/Medium.

As long as they’re not aiming for semi-realism, these new emoji are a success. They’re colorful, lively, and approachable, like those taffy-limbed 2D people in Squarespace commercials. The design post tries to frame this as fun and consumer-friendly, but there’s denying that first and foremost, this is a canny business move.

5

Pros
  • These emoji actually look fun! The depth and shading add cute details that make them look less clinical than their Windows 10 counterparts.
  • Clippy’s back!
  • I am so relieved to have even one UI element that isn’t on a flat, featureless plane.
Cons
  • Clippy’s back. I thought we were finally past the Clippy discourse. I’m too old for this.
  • The human face still eludes the Microsoft Design team.
  • One day, I will receive a heartfelt message from someone with a fucking claymation tombstone emoji on it. It’s inevitable.
  • I can no longer trust any megacorporation that adopts a cute and fun house style.
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