This design guide was created for Windows 7 and has not been updated for newer versions of Windows. Much of the guidance still applies in principle, but the presentation and examples do not reflect our current design guidance.

These sections comprise the detailed user experience guidelines for Windows-based desktop applications.

In this section

Topic Description
Controls are UI elements that your users interact with on your app's main window area. See visual examples of controls in Windows-based, desktop apps and get links to guidelines for each control.
Commands are actions users can take while using your app. Learn the guidelines for adding commands to your app's menus, ribbons, and toolbars.
Text includes any text users can see in your app. Review these guidelines on the use of UI text, style, and tone for your apps.
Messages are any kind of message users need or want to see as they use your app. Learn how to present errors, warning, confirmations, and notifications in your app.
Interaction is the variety of ways users interact with your app, including touch, keyboard, mouse, and so on. Use these guidelines to create intuitive and distinctive experiences that are optimized for touch but work consistently across input devices.
Windows are the main "canvases" or UI surfaces of your desktop app, including the main windows itself and pop-ups, dialogs, and wizards. Follow these guidelines when deciding which surface to use and how best to use them.
Visuals include the visual elements other than the controls. These guidelines help you make decisions about layout, fonts, color, icons, and so on in your app.
Experiences are the common experiences and use cases for all apps, like set up, first run, and printing. Learn about the best practices for creating these experiences and communicating your app brand.
Windows Environment
The Windows environment is the onscreen work area provided by Windows, analogous to a physical desktop, and the operating system's core extension points. Learn how to leverage the desktop, taskbar, notification area, control panels, help, and user account control for your app.