Image: Microsoft

More than 1,500 of Microsoft's 3D emoji are open source and can be used by anyone. Microsoft hopes to encourage more creativity and inclusivity in the emoji space by making almost all of its library available on Figma and GitHub.

Microsoft didn't originally plan to open source its work, even though it released its emoji in Windows 11 and 3D versions in Microsoft Teams. According to Jon Friedman, Microsoft's CVP of design and research, initial focus was on building the body of work. It was aligned with our belief that the more open source we are, the more product excellence we can build, and the more relevant we can be.

Creators will be able to access Microsoft’s emoji set on Figma and GitHub today.
Image: Microsoft

Microsoft spent a lot of time on inclusive design and the different needs of emojis that span across different people, religions and countries. More than 1,500 emoji include custom skin tones, bright and saturated colors, and a focus on fun at work. One of the few that won't be opensourced simply because of legal requirements around Microsoft's trademarks is Clippy.

Microsoft wants creators to try new things. Friedman says that Microsoft is one design community that can only do so little. We want to engage the community and help them see and do more that is globally relevant.

Most of Microsoft's bright and colorful 3D emoji will be able to be used in a variety of ways. Friedman thinks we will see things that are unique and specific. There were people who did versions of our app icons when we did them a long time ago. It was really good. It was an expression of creativity.

Once the community starts experimenting, we will likely see creators build on Microsoft's emoji to bring holiday themes or even more unique skin tones. It is easy to imagine Halloween sets of emoji that are different to different parts of the world.

There are more than 1,500 emoji going open source today.
Image: Microsoft

The changing state of work is one of the reasons why Microsoft is opensourced. Businesses and employees have been forced to work differently because of remote and hybrid work.

The pre-pandemic idea of professionalism in the workplace has changed with the use of hybrid work. According to Friedman, one of the things he saw start to happen in Teams is people using heart reactions who are very serious, important executive people at Microsoft who were suddenly loving things, loving comments, or using emojis in sentences.

Friedman saysFacial expression or body language was disconnected from our communications, so we started to have other rich conversations that were almost as engaging as the video conversations we were having. mojis allowed people to feel a little more comfortable with reacting to things in a more authentic way.

Microsoft’s smiley emoji.
Image: Microsoft

Microsoft wants to see how the community of creators builds on its library of emoji. Japan's traditions of picture-making led to the evolution of the original roots of emojis. Friedman says there is power in building on the work of others. We can't wait to see how you break boundaries, change our designs, and take the Fluent emoji to places we can't predict.

I hope that the creative freedom of the community will inspire Microsoft to allow a system-wide replacement of emoji so Windows users can add themed emoji for different holidays and more. Windows 11 users would love to see the truly 3D versions of Microsoft's emoji in the operating system.