Microsoft Apps UX (Dark Mode) needs work

It is nice that Microsoft has embraced dark mode UX within their applications. It is easier on my eyes and potentially uses less power. When I switch applications to light mode, the stark contrast is almost painful.

One problem, though, is Microsoft has digressed from any kind of standardization with its applications. It makes it difficult, with overlapping applications, to find the title bars. I have set Windows 10 (Version 2004, but this has been done for many versions prior) to Show accent color on the following surfaces (right-click on the desktop > Personalize > Colors):

I have overlaid the following Microsoft-based applications to demonstrate the UX issues:

  1. Microsoft Visual Studio 2019 (version 16.7.2)
  2. Microsoft Visual Studio Code (version 1.48.2)
  3. Microsoft Outlook for Microsoft 365 (version 16.0.13029.20342, 64-bit)
  4. Microsoft Excel for Microsoft 365 (version 16.0.13029.20342, 64-bit)
  5. Microsoft Teams (version, 64-bit)
  6. Microsoft OneNote for Windows 10 (version 16001.13127.20190.0)
  7. Microsoft Edge (version 86.0.622.10, 64-bit)
  8. Microsoft Office (version 18.2006.1031.0)

Here is what it looks like when overlaid:

The lack of contrast and consistency makes it difficult to select applications via mouse on a window. It is equally difficult with a touch interface to select an application via their window. Using Alt+Tab helps, but shouldn’t be a requirement for selecting an application.

Only Office and Edge have a title bar that has a color based on my Windows 10 OS personalization.

Only Visual Studio 2019 and Visual Studio Code have an icon in the upper left corner, something that used to be a standard for all Windows applications.

Excel has a light color on the cells. It should work like OneNote, which adjusts the color palette with a dark background. The same applies to Word. Outlook does provide a dark background within email messages, but one can adjust in the case where someone has an email with coloring that presumes a light color background (useful!).

Microsoft, please create some consistency standards within your applications for desktop applications, allow for application window overlaps to be visually pleasing, and publish the standards as best practices for all current Windows 10 applications. The look and feel should be based on the operating system settings, so it is centralized in terms of management. Right now, it is a hodgepodge and thus a mess.

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