Microsoft is making its Smooth-style emoji available in Windows 11 this week. A new optional update for the OS is rolling out this week. And, this update includes a number of important bug fixes and the new Microsoft emoji displayed earlier this year. Although it’s a totally new style, it’s not the 3D look that Microsoft previously promised; the company opted for 2D instead.
The new emoji in Windows 11 includes the return of Clippy because Microsoft has replaced the standard paperclip emoji with its Clippy character. The emoji have also been redesigned to have bright and saturated colors, but lack the 3D aspects that make them pop.
“The new emoji style is only available in Windows 11 and is in 2D,” explains Microsoft in a quiet update to its design blog from July. “We still offer an assortment of emojis [sic] for Windows 10 customers.” This same blog post still points out that Microsoft “opted for 3D designs over 2D and chose to animate the majority of it’s emoji.”
It’s still unclear if we’ll ever see the impressive 3D emoji in Windows 11 as demonstrated by Microsoft earlier this year. The lack of 3D could be related to technical limitations of Microsoft’s color font format that the company uses to display emoji in Windows. While Apple uses bitmaps to render its emoji, Microsoft uses a vector format which is far more scalable and has file size benefits if emoji are flatter.
We’re still expecting 3D and animated versions of these Smooth emoji to appear in products like Microsoft Teams, but if you want the new emoji in Windows then you’ll need to upgrade to Windows 11. Microsoft has made it clear that it doesn’t plan to bring this new emoji to Windows 10.