“When we looked at redesigning the paper clip, we thought, ‘How could you not?” Claire Anderson, Microsoft’s art director known internally as its emoji-ologist, told CNN Business. “It’s a way of honoring where we’ve come from as we also look at a new tech style. .. But like most nostalgic things, we know Clippy can be polarizing.”
Microsoft has been working on an emojis refresh for the past year, choosing 3D designs over 2D and opting to animate the majority of them. The move is in line with it’s new design language, Fluent, which the company calls brighter, vibrant and more human. “We want the design to uplift and make people happy,” Anderson said.
It’s also adding five new emojis to capture the many moods and challenges of working from home: a “you’re on mute” emoji, an image of someone multitasking with their arms going everywhere, a “business on top and pajamas on bottom” emoji, someone with a cat in front of the screen and a person holding a baby.
“We were reflecting on this past year and thinking what it looks like in emojiland — and those are the ones that stood out to us the most because it’s part of how we live now and interactions that happen all of the time,” Anderson said.
Microsoft also conducted a study that found 57% of people believe emojis in the workplace are professional and help humanize conversations. Emojis are often used as tools to lighten or intensify tones, express playfulness or enhance expression.
“Body language, the surrounding environment, subtle forms of humor — the loss of those impacts our communication greatly, but with a few pixels, we can telegraph our thoughts and feelings in ways that are fun, clear, and emotionally resonant,” Anderson elaborated in a blog post.
Microsoft’s new emoji will roll out in the coming months, starting with video tool Flipgrid in August, and other platforms, such as Teams and Windows, during the holiday season.