Design, they say, is never done. And nowhere else does this notion hold truer than the Windows 11 UI, which is far from settled even after one year since the release of Microsoft’s latest operating system.
In fact, the company has just added one more element into the mix.
It comes in the form of Mica Alt.
This is what the company has dubbed its latest creation, which is a material that will be used to design the user interface and various apps in the new OS. It joins three other materials that were already available in Windows 11, namely Acrylic, Mica, and Smoke.
Famed Microsoft watcher FireCube was the first to spot this recent addition.
And as noted, the new Mica Alt material is generally meant to be used for tabbed instances, with the guidance the company has put up for this new design choice also sort of confirming this. Redmond talks about this in the App layering section of the guidance document.
This is how Microsoft recommends developers to use this shiny new material:
“Mica Alt is an alternative to Mica as a foundation layer in your app’s hierarchy with the same features like inactive and active states and subtle personalization. We encourage you to apply Mica Alt as the base layer of your app when requiring contrast between title bar elements and the commanding areas of your app (e.g. navigation, menus).
A common scenario for using Mica Alt is when you are creating an application with a tabbed title bar.”
Spot the differences between the two variants of Mica in the screenshot below:
As the image shows, Mica Alt is simply a variant of Mica and is very much similar to the parent design material. But the tinting of the desktop background color in this new one is much stronger than the original.
The idea, clearly, here is to have this visual material provide a deeper visual hierarchy than Mica, which is why Microsoft wants this to be applied to the backdrop of a tabbed app.
In other words, Mica Alt will serve as an alternative to Mica as a foundation layer in the hierarchy of apps with same features like active and inactive states and subtle personalization. This is ideal in cases where the application requires contrast between its various sections.
Mica Alt is available for apps that use Windows App SDK 1.1 or higher, while running on Windows 11 version 22000 or later.