Windows 11 finally gets 3D-style emoji (about 2 years too late for some folks)

Windows 11
Come cambiare il tema su Windows 11 (Image credit: 123RF)

Windows 11 has a new preview build and it introduces 3D emoji, plus it takes an important first step for change on the security front.

You may recall that 3D emoji were promised by Microsoft in the past – the distant past, in fact, since this was something that was supposed to launch with Windows 11 – but they’re finally here. Putting paid to what was quite the controversy almost two years ago (we’ll come back to ‘emojigate’ shortly).

Build 25905 for the Canary channel gives us some smart-looking emoji that are nicely fleshed out with a 3D-like appearance.

As Microsoft notes: “These emoji use gradients to bring the design style that our customers have been asking for.”

Windows 11 3D Emoji

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Elsewhere in this preview build, security has been tightened thanks to the introduction of Rust in the Windows Kernel. Not rust as in metal-gone-bad, but Rust as in the coding language which offers advantages over C++ (the currently used programming language), notably in terms of memory safety (and defending against exploits that take this route).

At the moment, the initial steps with Rust are just a “small trial” as Microsoft describes it, but expect the Windows 11 kernel to get rustier as time goes on.

It’s also worth noting that the Microsoft Store now has an AI Hub, and not just for the Canary channel, but all testers who are running version 22306.1401.x.x or better of the store.

We discussed this in detail yesterday, but the idea is for Microsoft to highlight some top apps that make good use of AI (and more besides, eventually).

Check out the full details of everything going on in this new preview build by reading through Microsoft’s blog post on the release.

Analysis: Fiery feelings over emoji

What’s all this about ‘emojigate’ then? Well, as mentioned, Microsoft did tease 3D-like emoji before the release of Windows 11, promising that they’d arrive with the OS. However, when Windows 11 launched in October 2021, the redesigned emoji looked nothing like the promised 3D-style affairs, and were simply flat icons.

That caused quite an outpouring of rage on social media. While emoji may seem like a relatively unimportant facet of an operating system to some folks, to others, they’re a key part of the experience and communicating with friends. More to the point, people don’t like feeling duped, and indeed at the time, some threw accusations at Microsoft of ‘scamming’ them.

Over the top, yes, but that’s how folks can react when they feel they’ve been lied to in some way. Microsoft explained that the wrong graphics had been used for teasing the feature, and there had been some kind of a mix-up, but that didn’t sit well with some Windows 11 users back at the time, either.

At any rate, Brandon LeBlanc, Senior Program manager at Microsoft, told the disgruntled users that the 3D emoji could arrive in Windows 11 at a later date – and they finally have. At least in testing, anyway, and they should be in the release version of Windows 11 later this year.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).