Few dispute the fact that Microsoft lead the charge to introduce flat design to the masses. With early designs showing up in Media Center in Windows Vista, followed by Zune and Metro, Microsoft forged a trend that many have followed.
Now comes the fine-tuning. Almost Flat design has become more popular. Subtle gradients and shadows are being allowed back in where prudent. You see this everywhere. Look closely at Google’s fresh new flat designs, for example, the compose button in gmail where you will see a very slight gradient enhancing its clickable nature.
One striking difference with the new preview for Windows 10 is the focused-window shadow. Compare these two screens showing notepad in focus and over top of wordpad. The first is from Windows 8.1, the second from Windows 10.
I certainly welcome this. The lack of focus/blur distinction in the current Windows platform has been one of the few usability shortfalls.
The sharp-eyed will notice another change: Consistent with the principles of flat design, Notepad has now lost it’s gratuitous border chrome.
I will be watching for more evidence of the evolution of almost-flat design in future previews.