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Old 2003-06-27, 22:07
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Join Date: Jan 2000
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GUI trends - heavy vs light 3D

The look and feel of operating systems keeps swinging like a pendulum between 2D and 3D.

Ten years ago there was Windows 3.11 which was absolutely flat, then came Win95 with certain 3D effects which became more pronounced in Win98.

Then Microsoft started this short-lived 2D trend which was apparent in some applications, most notably the Office package where icons, splash screens, packaging and certain windows were very flat and devoid of drop shadows, gradients and such. At the same time, the trends in web design moved from over-the-top bevels, emboss and drop shadows to a flat and desaturated look and a good dose of 'pixel retro'.

Then back to 3D with a bang: XP and OSX, both sporting a heavy 3D look. OSX with the blobby Aqua interface that had all sorts of shadows and effects. This was reflected in certain software - Office 2002 for Mac came in a big round packaging and the icons were colorful and super 3D. People started complaining the Reason icons no longer fit in because everything else is all round, shiny and glossy.

Now, OSX "Panther" is reportedly flatter and the colors are desaturated, possibly reflecting the physical appearance of their new products - the G5 and the latest G4 PowerBooks with the new grey keyboard (the original Aqua interface was created when Macs were still blobby and colorful like the first iMacs).

Simultaneously, Microsoft are working on "Longhorn", the next OS, and the new default theme 'Plex' is much flatter and less colorful than default XP. So once again 3D is uncool.

Do I have a question? Hmm, I guess...

1) Which look do you prefer?
2) Do you think they'll ever settle for either style?
3) Do you tweak the UI a lot or do you pretty much stick with the default look?

/Fred
 

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