Icons in Windows Vista® visually represent programs, objects, actions, and concepts that help users recognize meaning and purpose, identify places and items, and find their way through the user interface (UI) with visual landmarks.
New in Windows Vista
Windows Vista introduces a new style of iconography that brings a higher level of detail and sophistication to Windows-based imagery.
Windows Vista Aero-style icons differ from Windows XP-style icons in the following ways:
- The style is more realistic than illustrative, but not quite photorealistic. Icons are symbolic images—they should look better than photorealistic!
- Icons have a maximum size of 256x256, making them suitable for high-DPI (dots per inch) displays. These high-resolution icons allow for good visual quality in list views with large icons. This maximum size isn't required for icons used solely for menus, toolbars, glyphs or small symbols, or the notification area.
- Wherever practical, fixed document icons are replaced by thumbnails of the content, making documents easier to identify and find. Stacks and folders contain multiple thumbnails.
- Icon overlays allow a thumbnail to show the file's associated application, making it easy to distinguish file types and predict which application opens the file by default.
- Toolbar icons have less detail and perspective to optimize for smaller sizes.
Why are these changes important?
- Improve usability by making programs, objects, and actions easier to identify and find.
- Improve the visual communication of your program.
- Strongly impact users' overall impression of your program's visual design.
- Give your program a quality appearance by enriching users' overall experience and showing refined fit and finish.
Look and feel
To achieve the Windows Vista look, redesign your program's most prominent icons to use the Aero style. Be sure to redesign any icons displayed on the Start menu or Windows® Explorer (such as file type icons). Don't use any icons in Windows Vista-based programs from Windows 98 or earlier.
Aero-style icons have these characteristics:
- Realistic and symbolic in style; not photorealistic or illustrative.
- For perspective, use isometric icons for program icons and objects with 3-D volume. Use flat icons for files, flat objects, and 16x16 pixel icons.
- Required sizes are 256x256, 32x32, and 16x16 pixels. Optional supported sizes are 128x128, 96x96, 48x48, and 24x24 pixels. Windows Vista-style icons scale smoothly between 256x256 and 32x32 pixels. The 256x256 pixel icon size is required to support high-resolution monitors.
- 32-bit color (24-bit color plus 8-bit alpha channel).
- Use the .ico file format.