With a life span of over 25 years, Windows Icons are both historic and legendary. As technology and hardware capabilities have evolved, the "Windows Icon" has quickly followed. Originating as simple black and white glyphs, today's Windows Icons enjoy 24-bit color w/8-bit alpha transparency. The surge in graphical capabilities paved the way for graphic companies like ours to create amazing, innovative styles. Professional Icons, never stagnant, has continually evolved with the changing tides. With our feet firmly planted in the Microsoft Community, we religiously stay up-to-date with the latest trends in Windows' Icon Design. Herein you'll find our list of Windows-inspired icon offerings.

Windows Vista Icons

Windows XP Icons

The Evolution of Windows Icons

A Long History with a Slow Start:

Windows was originally called Interface Manager and subsequently renamed in 1981, although the official release didn't come until 1985 when Microsoft Windows v1.0 hit the shelves. This first attempt at GUI stardom was nothing revolutionary, and in many minds, it was perceived as little more than a glorified version of MS-DOS. It enjoyed only mild success, but was an important precursor to a true multi-tasking environment that would follow in the years to come.


While there were a few very simplistic icons used in versions 1 and 2, it wasn't until version 3 that the "Windows Icon" really started to take shape. Windows Icons now came in color, which was an exciting leap in an era previously dominated by black and white images. At this stage, computer resources were still limited and the images contained only 16 colors. The icons could now assume a more "layered" look, with the mix of colors providing the necessary contrast between objects.


It wasn't until the birth of XP Icons that the Windows' guidelines called for full-fledged 3D perspectives. The number of colors supported in each image had increased from 256 to over 16 million. Alpha transparency, an exciting concept allowing for partially transparent pixels was now supported as part of the new XP ICO standard.


Vista Icons introduced primarily stylistic changes as OS color support had already surpassed our human capacity for eyesight with the release of Windows XP. With over 16 million colors supported and our eyes only perceiving roughly one million of them, further advances in this arena would prove unfruitful. Instead, it was innovation and creativity that made Windows Vista Icons successful and a favorite among developers worldwide.

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