The death of Flair? Windows Live’s new look

By Harrison Hoffman | Posted June 15, 2007 18 comments

The “Flair” user interface (seen above) has become a familiar sight for the users of Windows Live products and services.  It has become the standard look for any of Windows Live’s websites or applications.  Flair has been widely adopted throughout the Windows Live network since around last summer, although the UI concept was introduced on some sites prior to that.  Despite being an excellent and recognizeable interface, we will likely be seeing the death of Flair in the near future.

The coming months will bring a complete visual revamp of both Windows Live websites and applications.  This has already become apparently in the past couple of weeks with the release of the beta versions of Messenger 8.5, Mail, and Writer.  Here are some examples of what changes we can expect to see.  Most of these you have seen already, but we have a never before seen preview of the new Windows Live web UI.

Windows Live Header

This is the probable design for the new standard UI throughout Windows Live websites after the change.

Before:

After: (Click to Enlarge)


This possible new UI header design takes up a little less real estate vertically than its Flair predecessor, leaving some more room for content underneath.  It also provides some quick links to other Windows Live services in addition to the “Orb Menu” on the left.  I also included the contents of the new Orb Menu, which has a few entries that you might find interesting.  Since this search bar will, presumably, be present on all of the new Windows Live sites, I think that we can assume that it will react differently to the content on the page.  For example, if you are in Mail, it will search your mail, if you are in Expo, it will search listings.

Windows Live Messenger

Before:

After:

As you can see, the Flair has been removed from the top of the contact list and has been replaced with the new UI.  Other than that, there is not a whole lot to talk about in regards to the UI upgrade in Messenger.

Windows Live Mail

Before:

After:

The new Windows Live Mail application looks very similar to the Windows Live Mail desktop Beta.  Obviously, the header displays the new UI feel.

Windows Live Writer

Before:

After:

Writer has probably seen the most dramatic change from its original version.  The new look is now much more consistent with the rest of Windows Live.

Although I cannot give an exact timeframe for when this new look will be rolled out completely throughout Windows Live, we are clearly already seeing it start to pop up in certain forms.

Read More:

Windows Live Ideas updates to Flair (August 2006)
Windows Live Mail goes into Beta
Windows Live Messenger 8.5 Beta available
Windows Live Writer Beta 2 – Updated Finally

Posted June 15th, 2007 at 1:50 pm
Category: News
Tags: Flair, Graphics, LiveSide, UI, Windows Live
  • http://khristopherr.spaces.live.com Khristopher

    They better keep the new UI design around for awhile before changing it again. I like the new UI better, but it’s only going to cause more confusion for people. People need consistency. And need to be reminded of where they are, so that they automatically know they are at, or are using, a Windows Live product.

    Windows Live Writer really needs to hide the menu, and make access to the menu the same way as Messenger and Mail.

  • http://chels75.free.fr/ chels75

    better design ;)

  • http://www.liamdaly.co.uk DN2004

    When will we expect these changes on Live.com to take place?

  • http://www.liamdaly.co.uk DN2004

    Oh wait never mind missed the last line :P

  • http://www.wave3k.net the andyman

    Looks nice apart from the search button. Strange that the flair was still used in the setups for the recent betas of messenger, mail and writer though.
    Also nice to see Windows Live calendar, web messenger and contacts coming soon.

  • http://www.wave3k.net the andyman

    Just realised you’ll have to change your site design to match ;)

  • CalumJR

    I don’t like the new search button either. It reminds me of MSN to much *goes to the bathroom and pukes*

    I do, however, like just about every other aspect of the new UI.

    I hope the links in the header are different for each product (but making sure they are handy links for similar WL products. E.g. on the WLspaces page it would have links to Hotmail, Messenger, Mail and Writer) etc.

    I also hope they incorporate trhis new design within Hotmail and Spaces. I hate the current Themes in Hotmail. They are rubbish and need to be cleaned up a little bit and maybe more Themes added.

    Last but not least, I hope they still include icons of each product in the Windows Live Org drop down. I love this idea, but I think it looks better with icons as well.

  • CalumJR

    That last post was supposed to say “Orb” not “Org” lol

  • reguser

    I cant see any of the images in the post. Can everyone else see?

  • http://yannick.vermeire.eu yanverm

    @ phunky, I 100% agree !

  • Chris

    @reguser – the images are there. Send us an email if you’re still having problems.

  • http://www.lifeinvasion.com zlinko

    So is the new bar that replaces the current flair offical? Or is that just a mock up?

    Either way it looks great and will add more space for the rest of the content in the page. It is almost an exact mirror of Vista.

  • http://msftandthefuture.spaces.live.com quikboy

    I don’t mind the New UI look on the non-Web part (like, Live Writer, Mail Desktop, Live Messenger), but I hate how it will look on the new Live.com and the UI header. It’s sort like a flagship trademark or something that people have always associated with Windows Live.

    The new look is great on the apps. seperate from the web, but a new look on the web pages is kinda sad. I’ve always thought the UI was way better than Google’s, and the fact that they’re changing this is sad news to me. At LEAST, they should keep the spyglass icon on the end of the search box. You know, the magnifying glass at the end of the search box. More than anything, it’s the #1 thing that people associate with Windows Live. Even ask.com and a few sites have copied it. Much better than a stupid ‘Search’ Box. That’s one thing they should change. I’m ok with the new look, as long as they don’t get rid of the spyglass icon.

    Otherwise than that, good news.

  • G-Z

    search-box-button-thing is ugly (the old one was pretty, they should keep it) but the rest looks great ……….

  • reguser

    started working now – thanks Chris!

  • http://albertceo.spaces.live.com Alber1690

    It seems like they’re getting inspiration from the Windows Vista team. All of the new menus look a lot like the menus we have in Windows Explorer (Photo Gallery, Music, Documents, etc.) Oh, and I agree: that green button needs to go!

  • http://www.liamdaly.co.uk DN2004

    I suppose they want Windows Live to look like Windows Vista menus

  • pikablu0530

    a definite MUST to bring back the “spyglass” search icon instead of that ugly green “Seach” text-button. It’s like a trademark for Windows Live and people are used to it already.