NEON Is the New Metro: How Windows 10 Will Change Its Look

Christian Bonilla 03-03-2017

Windows 10 is a work-in-progress. With every major update, Microsoft introduces new features. This year’s Redstone 3 update, which will follow the Windows 10 Creators Update 11+ New Features Coming to Windows 10 in 2017 The Windows 10 Creators Update is due in Spring 2017. We compiled the biggest updates and new features you can look forward to. Read More , will include a functional and aesthetic shift called Project NEON.


The new user interface (UI) is heavily influenced by past Windows distributions and will be available for all Windows 10 technology (i.e. PC, tablet, and mobile).

A Project NEON Overview

Although information concerning Project NEON is relatively scarce, Microsoft has a habit of revealing too much before releases. From the looks of it, Project NEON will work as a restructuring of the Windows 10 UI. That includes window themes, Taskbar properties, official application design (Xbox, Groove, Paint, etc.), and more.

Windows 10 Redstone 3

Redstone is a sobriquet for major Windows 10 package updates. The first iteration, Redstone 1, arrived as the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. Redstone 2 is also known as the Windows 10 Creators Update A Peek Into the Windows 10 Creators Update Microsoft just announced the next major Windows 10 upgrade. The Creators Update will come to 400 million users in Spring 2017. Here are the highlights of Wednesday's Windows 10 event. Read More .

Slated for Fall 2017, Redstone 3 — in which Project NEON will be released — promises to be Microsoft’s most substantial Windows Update yet. The main reason for this is Microsoft’s focus on a new design language. With Redstone 1 providing a strong security backbone, and Redstone 2 providing a rich feature-filled operating system (OS), Redstone 3 will tie it all together, across all Windows devices.

Windows 7 & 8

Windows 7 and 8 saw mixed levels of acceptance. While Windows 7 became the most popular OS How Microsoft Has Pushed Windows 10 and the Results Microsoft has been promoting Windows 10 aggressively for over a year. The goal was to get the new operating system running on one billion devices by 2018. We look at Microsoft's methods and the numbers. Read More on the market, and Windows 8 one of the least, Microsoft learned a tremendous amount from the two.


This seems self-evident when comparing Project NEON to previous Windows UI attempts. While the UI is largely Windows 10-based, certain aspects of both Aero Glass and Metro from 7 and 8 continue to inspire the main Windows interface. This is particularly true considering how influential semi-transparent window design, card-style program selection, and font redesigns are in Project NEON.

Microsoft Design Language 2

The Microsoft Design Language 2 (MDL2) is the design language used by Windows 10. Instead of completely reworking Microsoft’s current design language, Project NEON will incorporate certain new features into the general fold.

Dubbed Metro 2.0 in some circles, Project NEON is not a complete rewrite of the current design language as much as it is an addition to it. The reported redesign focuses heavily on animations and transitions. Factor in Windows’ desire for a more app-filled OS, and it seems Microsoft’s focus with this design language update is to streamline software use and interaction.

NEON’s User Interface

Fluidity. That’s what Microsoft wants to give their users in an OS. That’s why Project NEON focuses its efforts on providing smoother animation, effects, and transitions for your UI.


NEON Is the New Metro: How Windows 10 Will Change Its Look win 10 project neon

Remember that the Windows OS is going through constant changes. Project NEON is centered around facilitating the new and interesting features currently being developed by Microsoft for Windows.

Windows Programs

Proprietary Windows software is going to make a change during the coming months. Not only will software, like Groove Music, include different themes, many apps will also receive enhanced features.

NEON Is the New Metro: How Windows 10 Will Change Its Look project neon groove


This includes speech recognition, flatter interfaces, larger libraries, and more. Most official Windows software will likely follow the path of, for example, Groove in adopting Project NEON’s new usability framework.

NEON Is the New Metro: How Windows 10 Will Change Its Look neon email program

The above concept image illustrates the segmented, multi-faceted nature of program windows in Project NEON. Notice two things:

  1. The facilitated ease of use.
  2. The nice-looking font redesign.

These features and more are what make Project NEON such an anticipated update release.



The unique combination of transparent UI options and animation-based window design seem integral to Project NEON’s Acrylic feature. Two key features work in tandem with Acrylic: Connected Animations and Conscious UI. These two aspects of the OS create responsive windows, which will change according to mouse scrolls and separate windows.

NEON Is the New Metro: How Windows 10 Will Change Its Look project neon groove gif

Acrylic works in segments rather than whole windows. These Acrylic segments (“Side-Nav Acrylic”, “Background Acrylic” and “In-App Acrylic”) are responsible for the background blur of certain parts of a program’s window. This modular approach to desktop windows is reminiscent of modern websites, wherein different parts of the site interact with the others to create a smooth browsing experience.

The goal of all this is an incredibly smooth OS.

Project NEON Demo

As is the case with most burgeoning OS software, developers are eyeing Project NEON hesitantly. While Project NEON stays hidden in upcoming Insider Preview builds, developers are using the time before its release to play around with the new UI settings and animations.

The following is an example of Interop Unlock Tools, a program typically used to edit registry settings. One of the first pieces of software created using NEON’s design language, it is an excellent example of what functionality is to come.

The available bits of Project NEON in preview builds show a general tendency towards blurred, semi-transparent backgrounds and animations: essentially, enhanced subtlety and performance. While the above is only a front-end example, the combination side-bar options, blurred background, and pleasing interface is enough to leave any Windows user begging for more.

Windows OS in 3D?

A major candidate to reap the fruits of Project NEON’s labor is one of Microsoft’s most recent advents: the HoloLens. As speculation concerning Project NEON grows, some feel all this focus on smooth animations and transitions is a prelude to integrating these features into virtual reality desktops.

Some more information about NEON reveals that it serves as a bridge between holographic and augmented reality (AR) and the desktop environment. It’s a “UI that transports across devices” with a UX (User Experience) that maps to the physical world. It uses textures, 3D models, lighting and more.

If you haven’t already, now is a good time to review what exactly Microsoft has been envisioning for the future of PC technology.

I would seriously recommend you check out the HoloLens Youtube channel for an in-depth look at what exactly is going on with the HoloLens. That said, it seems NEON is just part of Microsoft’s aim to further the transition from static desktops to smoother, more dynamic AR deskscapes.

Just Around the Update Bend

Project NEON, like most other Microsoft projects soon becoming available for Windows 10, is just around the update bend. That’s a new user interface with fresh effects and program features, available for free through a simple software update Missed the Free Windows 10 Upgrade? Psst, Here's a Backdoor! The upgrade to Windows 10 remains free for users who depend on assistive technologies. However, Microsoft doesn't check whether you really do. We show you how you can use this backdoor to get Windows 10. Read More .

As a PC user, I couldn’t ask for more. As a PC aficionado, I’m sure I’ll have gripes with Project NEON’s upcoming release. In either case, Project NEON has injected a bit of excitement to the Windows community. That’s something to be thankful for!

Are you excited for Project NEON? Let us know in the comments below!

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  1. Dale Poole
    March 6, 2017 at 1:06 pm

    I have not been a fan of the recent Microsoft moves to compete with Apple by evolving what I call more "Apple-like" design and implementation of features. I still think the idea of a tiled interface has less to do with tablet use and more to do with emulating Apple. I use Windows products because they *aren't* Apple.

    I feel the same about all the buzz around VR and VR Goggles. It's a loverly experimentation into something that is a cute technology but has no reasonable, productive use. However, the video regarding the project between MS and Volvo that demonstrates a real world situation that I can buy into - the use of AR or Augmented Reality.

    The concept of VR is still one of the stupidest notions I've encountered, especially the way it's promoted as an entertainment. Get away from the screen and off your ass if you want to experience VR - it's all around you! The concept of Augmented Reality is a definite future path so let's see more of that.

  2. LordDaMan
    March 4, 2017 at 2:56 am

    The Acrylic screenshot is somewhat of a hoax. That's exactly what Groove does right now in the anniversary build. It's been like that for about 6 months before that animation surfaced

  3. Brad
    March 4, 2017 at 1:43 am

    I love the look of Neon, and the transition effects. Acrylic too. But I can't help but notice just how much it resembles Google Material Design. That's not a bad thing though.

  4. Giselle
    March 3, 2017 at 10:58 pm

    It's so appalling that MS wants to focus on "animations" and "transitions" rather than repairing the damage done to IE and Windows Explorer via the so-called anniversary update. These two programs are so broken that I've finally had to move to third party applications for each. What a grotesque fail.

    • dave
      March 6, 2017 at 2:40 pm

      As per Giselle, internet practically unusable with Anniversary update installed. Needing to fix that first before any other updates' which have features prob. 90% of average users couldn't care less about

  5. jack
    March 3, 2017 at 7:22 pm

    make use of (use With Which Word press Please tell me freiends

  6. bobzilla
    March 3, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    Neon like the Metro UI looks old and dated with it's flat colors and square corners.

    Aero was the last modern looking UI.

    It's just too bad MS decided to take a step backwards in UI design.

    • PPlank
      March 11, 2017 at 8:14 am

      I totally agree and so do a lot of my hardcore gaming friends. We all use Windows 7 still, and a techy girl friend of mine has just spent days trying to get her m.2 drive to work with Windows 7 and eventually succeeded. She's now very happy as using Win 10 was driving her crazy. I have long believed that it's the hard core techy/gaming community which drives what people want as people listen to what they're saying, and when they're all saying "yeah, we've gone back to Win 7 because 10 is pants," then the next thing people say is "why?" and "what do you think I should do?"

      I've seen this time and again over the last 2 decades.

      I really don't know what MS are playing at now. It's almost as if the design team are doing stuff to justify their jobs and not actually focusing on what people want. And why try to integrate 2 completely different interfaces (touch and desktop) into one look and feel? Touch is NOT a viable work platform, even something simple like composing email is painful. Touch is for consumer, not workplace, and certainly not for real gamers.

      Finally, I recently installed Linux Mint on a virtual machine on my unRAID box and I have to admit it's VERY polished now, and more like Windows than Windows 10 is. Many games (I just took a look in my library and it's around 50%) are now being released for Linux too, and it's this that will drive the adoption of Linux as a gaming platform if MS aren't careful. All it will take is one major games developer to release their game on Linux and that will be a huge blow to MS. (GTA6 on Linux anyone?)

      I wonder what it will take for MS to admit their current attempt at a user interface was a dead-end and costly mistake?

      • spyjoshx
        March 14, 2017 at 3:24 pm

        YES TO LINUX!! I'm already entirely switched to linux, and I rarely look back, except when one crazy developer decides to ONLY release a game on M$ windows... (also rocking the tri-monitor setup!)