Technology Microsoft open sources its 3D emoji to let creators remix and customize them

tom_mai78101

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Microsoft is open sourcing more than 1,500 of its 3D emoji, making them free for creators to remix and build upon. Almost all of Microsoft’s 1,538 emoji library will be available on Figma and GitHub starting today in a move that Microsoft hopes will encourage more creativity and inclusivity in the emoji space.

While Microsoft released its emoji in Windows 11 last year and 3D versions in Microsoft Teams in February, the company hadn’t originally planned to open source its work. “Initially we were focused on building the body of work,” says Jon Friedman, Microsoft’s CVP of design and research, in an interview with The Verge. “The idea kinda just started popping around, and it aligned with our belief and perspective that the more open source we are internally and externally, the more product excellence we can build, and the more relevant we can be for all of humanity.”

Microsoft spent a lot of time on inclusive design and the varied needs of emoji that span across different people, religions, and countries. The result was more than 1,500 emoji that include custom skin tones, with bright and saturated colors and a focus on fun in the workplace. Even Clippy was introduced as a replacement for the paper clip emoji, but that’s one of a few that won’t be open sourced simply because of legal requirements around Microsoft’s trademarks.

Microsoft now wants creators to explore new ways to build upon its emoji. “Internally at Microsoft we’re one design community that can only do so much or see so much,” explains Friedman. “We have a desire to engage the community and help us see and do more that’s globally relevant, that reaches people in unique ways.”

 
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