Microsoft has made its emojis open-source

Microsoft has made an interesting move that will hopefully push diversity and inclusivity forward. That said, we’re putting a lot of faith in emoji.

That is because Microsoft has made it’s emoji library available on Figma and Github. The library is open-source and Microsoft hopes folks will use it to create custom emojis.

There are 1 538 emoji that can be customised with some exceptions. Flags, video game and technologist emoji won’t be included nor will Clippy. This, Microsoft says, comes down to the fact that you can’t open-source a trademark.

“When we say collaborating at scale, we mean it at the most global of levels. An incredible team of designers and engineers spent over a year ensuring our emoji could be used in any needed format. Just as closed caption comes in different languages, emoji must exist as a SVG, PNG, and JPG file to enable true versatility. And for each of those, a vector, flat, and monochrome version should be created for scale and flexibility,” general manager of design at Microsoft, Jon Friedman wrote in a blog post.

“That’s no small feat when you’re talking about 1,538 emoji, but we wanted to ensure that every creator can build experiences that serve their community’s needs. This especially applies to developers and audiences who haven’t been historically included. A headdress, an Afro, a sari — enabling the world’s majority (aka Black and Brown people) to express themselves how they want, to whom they want, and when they want is not just powerful, but necessary,” the general manager adds.

One headscratcher in this blog is mention of how the pandemic upended “old-school professionalism”.

Here, Friedman links to a piece he penned on Fast Company about how the pandemic not only forced people to work from home but become more human in the process.

“As much heart as I put into my work, I never thought I’d ‘heart’ things there. I do that at home, where my guard is down. But now that the office is my home, there are hearts all over the place,” writes Friedman.

The hope is that this move will generate custom emojis for special occasions while also driving the message of inclusivity and diversity.

We do, however, wonder when Microsoft will drop the 3D emojis pictured in the header for Windows 11 users. That, and support for Android apps are the only things we’re still really waiting for nearly a year after Windows 11 launched.


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