Unlike Windows 10, Windows 11 has new and modern “Fluent scrollbars” that change shape when users interact with it. The Fluent scrollbars are dynamic in nature and they scale automatically on different form factors or when you change the size of the window, and it’s currently used across apps like Settings, Media Player etc.
Google Chrome could soon have the Fluent Scrollbars feature, according to a new proposal by Microsoft. In a proposal, Microsoft said they want to modernize the old scrollbars in Chrome to bring Google’s browser in line with Windows 11 design standards.
The proposal aims to modernize Chromium scrollbars (both overlay and non-overlay) to fit the Windows 11 Fluent design language. Additionally, Microsoft is also considering some visually appealing changes to how users interact with scrollbars in Chrome with different modes:
- Minimal mode: This would be the default design for scrollbars.
- Full mode: The full mode scrollbar is when the cursor is over the scrollbar area and all parts like thumb or buttons will be drawn.
- Hidden mode: This is a new feature where the scrollbars would fade out completely and it may not be possible to find the exact location on a page. Citing this reason, Google has expressed concerns over the hidden mode and Microsoft is actively exploring a better way to handle the visual improvements.
To better understand the differences, here’s a comparison between the new scrollbars available in Microsoft Edge and classic scrollbars in Chrome:
- Root overlay scrollbar will always be present in minimal mode.
- Scrollbar transitions to the full mode when the pointer is directly on the track.
- On launch, all scrollbars are drawn, the root scrollbar remains visible (in minimal mode) and the rest fade out.
- When a pointer enters a non-root ScrollNode, the scrollbar gets drawn in minimal mode.
- When the pointer leaves the node bounds, the minimal mode scrollbar fades out.
- Text matching via Ctrl+F causes the scrollbar to be immediately drawn in full mode and tickmarks appear on the track at the matched location.
Microsoft also noted that it would be possible to bypass the ‘hidden mode’ with Windows 11’s native solution “Always ON scrollbars”. Like macOS, it is possible to “Always show scrollbars” from Settings -> Accessibility -> Visual effects. The new scrollbars would be aware of the native settings.
“When this is enabled, scrollbars will be drawn in “Full mode”. With this OS setting, the scrollbars will take up layout space,” Microsoft noted.
As you can see in the above screenshots, Microsoft’s proposed scrollbars will behave more like overlay scrollbars. They will be thinner, have insets and rounded edges. If the Google developer rejects the overlay scrollbars, Microsoft has also planned restyled non-overlay scrollbars to modernize Chrome on Windows 11.
Microsoft has been considering this feature for Chromium-based web browsers since January 2022.
Way back in 2021, one of the Microsoft developers had confirmed the company intends to bring some of the Edge design improvements to Chromium as well.
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