Windows 11 has new emojis — but they're not the 3D images Microsoft promised

Windows 11 emojis
Windows 11 emojis (Image credit: Microsoft)

In July, Microsoft announced on Twitter that if their Clippy image garnered more than 20,000 likes, the paperclip emoji will get tossed in favor of the controversial Office assistant. Attracting nostalgia-filled Clippy fans, the post amassed 173,400 likes to date.

A day later, Microsoft confirmed that Clippy will be added to its new 3D emoji collection. “We opted for 3D designs over 2D and chose to animate the majority of our emoji,” a Microsoft rep told The Verge. Fast forward to late November and the new emojis are now available on Windows 11, but unfortunately, they're not 3D nor animated.

Microsoft introduces Fluent Emojis

Microsoft's new collection of expressive images are called "Fluent Emojis" — a nod to Windows 11's new fluent design language that Microsoft says is cohesive, harmonious and consistent.

"These new Fluent style emoji being released in Windows 11 today feel personal and familiar, two of our Windows 11 design principles," said Judy Safran-Aasen, Microsoft's Program Manager for the Windows Design Team.

Windows 11 emojis

Microsoft's original 3D vision for the new emojis (Image credit: Microsoft)

As mentioned, they're not animated 3D images as Microsoft promised. They're 2D emojis with a softer look and punchier colors. The Verge suspects that Microsoft abandoned the 3D idea due to "technical limitations." Unlike Apple, which uses bitmaps to display emojis, Microsoft employs a vector-based format to render emojis. This format provides advantages such as reduced file sizes and easy scalability — a perk Microsoft likely isn't willing to sacrifice for 3D, animated emojis.

Windows 11 emojis

Windows 11 emojis (Image credit: Microsoft)

Unfortunately for Windows 10 users, the new Fluent Emoji collection is only rolling out to Windows 11. "We still offer an assortment of emojis for Windows 10 customers," Microsoft said in an update on its Medium blog. In other words, if Windows 10 users want the new Fluent Emoji collection, they'll have to update to Windows 11. Otherwise, they're stuck with the current-gen emojis.

Three-dimensional emojis aren't totally out of the question, though. Microsoft may add a 3D version to Microsoft Teams and other products in the future. 

To get the new Fluent Emoji update, go to  Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update and select Check for updates.

Kimberly Gedeon

Kimberly Gedeon, holding a Master's degree in International Journalism, launched her career as a journalist for MadameNoire's business beat in 2013. She loved translating stuffy stories about the economy, personal finance and investing into digestible, easy-to-understand, entertaining stories for young women of color. During her time on the business beat, she discovered her passion for tech as she dove into articles about tech entrepreneurship, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the latest tablets. After eight years of freelancing, dabbling in a myriad of beats, she's finally found a home at Laptop Mag that accepts her as the crypto-addicted, virtual reality-loving, investing-focused, tech-fascinated nerd she is. Woot!