back to article You can take off the shades, squinting Outlook.com users. It has gone dark. Very dark

Goths of the world rejoice! Outlook.com's Dark Mode is here, turning mailboxes into blacks and shades of grey such that Lego Batman would shed a tear of joy. If Lego Batman cried. Which he doesn't. Microsoft confirmed on Outlook's uservoice forum today that Outlook.com (the beta version of the webmail site at least) could be …

  1. nematoad Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Not a good idea for me.

    "Dark versions of interfaces are reckoned by some to be easier on the eyes..."

    Not if you are my age. I struggle with dark themes and avoid them where I can. Physiologically your eyes let less light in the older you are. The cornea of a person of 60 will only pass a certain percentage of light to the retina compared to that of a person of 20.

    Lack of contrast on some sites, I'm looking at you EVE Online, makes my life a misery. Black on white is definitely easier to read than white on black, or in Eve's case grey on black. Bah!

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Not a good idea for me.

      "Not if you are my age."

      I'm no spring chicken myself, but even in my 20s, I found dark interfaces to be difficult to use.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Not a good idea for me.

      There's also another reason: the pupil is no longer able to get as large as when you're young. Moreover, when the pupil is narrower, it helps with many eyesight issue. That's why I always hated dark themes, they are much harder to read.

      Most monitors are too bright at the default settings. Mines are calibrated for photo editing, and the brightness is set to far lower values, compatible with ambient light, greatly reducing eye strain.

    3. K Silver badge

      Re: Not a good idea for me.

      I've tried all the dark modes on the Python IDE's.. I was hoping some hipster mojo would rub off on me, and I'd become a wizz, alas I found them completely unreadable.

      1. bobajob12
        Coat

        Re: Not a good idea for me.

        You need to add

        import hipster

        to your code. Or, if you don't care for the full man-bun avocado-toast privacy-surrendering experience,

        from hipster import mojo

    4. FuzzyWuzzys Silver badge

      Re: Not a good idea for me.

      Ever since I first used Windows around 1989 I've always set the background to grey as I dislike white backgrounds, they've always hurt my eyes after an hour or two and I find black text very hard to read on a white background. Wherever possible I like a grey background and colour highlighted text in a slightly bold standard monospaced courier style font, I just find I can stare that for hours and hours.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Not a good idea for me.

        Windows around 1989 I've always set the background to grey

        Likewise. Except, in my case, a very dark purple.

        On top of which the carosel of cat pictures continues..

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Windows

      @Nema

      Well, fortunately (and somewhat surprising) Microsoft isn't forcing it on us this time. Which is actually somewhat of a surprise for me because I know how much they apparently enjoy to take color away from stuff which work(ed). (here's looking at you Visual Studio!).

    6. Barry Rueger Silver badge

      Re: Not a good idea for me.

      @nematoad "Not if you are my age."

      God yes. Sixties, incipient cataracts, and every other twenty year old web page designer has decided that grey text on a grey background would look Reel Kewl!

      Said it before, and I'll say it again, there's a reason why every book, and almost every newspaper publisher in the universe uses black text on white paper.

      1. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble? Silver badge

        Re: Not a good idea for me.

        <quote>Said it before, and I'll say it again, there's a reason why every book, and almost every newspaper publisher in the universe uses black text on white paper</quote>

        I agree completely.

        Black ink is cheap

        White paper is cheap

        Cheap materials = more profit!

        And it's easy to read. I guess.

        1. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: Not a good idea for me.

          As far as I'm aware, brown paper is cheapest

        2. LDS Silver badge

          "White paper is cheap"

          White paper is more expensive to create. It needs a bleach process, especially paper made from wood pulp, where many components would give it a brownish tint. Also, any amount of lignin left in the process will make it brownish with time (like newspapers, which use a low-quality, cheap paper).

          I don't remember if "rag" paper (made from cotton and the like) is whiter without much additional processing. Some photo papers add OBA agents to make the paper look whiter.

          Don't know about inks, but I'm not sure black inks are cheaper than other colors, especially in the past.

          Also, reading dark papers in darker conditions is worse than white ones, because far less light is reflected and that mean your eyes may switch to low light, low resolution receptors....

          1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: "White paper is cheap"

            your eyes may switch to low light, low resolution receptors

            As in "In the dark, all cats be gray"[1] stylee?

            [1] Which is, obviously, nonsense. White cats glow as they reflect what little light there is, torties are even better camoflauged than usual, gingers are in their usual place by the foodbowl and black cats are even more the negation of all good things than usual.

        3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Not a good idea for me.

          And it's easy to read. I guess.

          Unless you have dyslexia of course..

  2. Chris G Silver badge

    Don't understand what all the fuss is about

    MS is continuously fixing stuff that isn't broken and offering stuff that hasn't been asked for.

    I'm still holding off moving to W10, it offers nothing I need and 7 works perfectly well.

    1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: Don't understand what all the fuss is about

      MS is continuously fixing stuff that isn't broken and offering stuff that hasn't been asked for.

      I'm still holding off moving to W10, it offers nothing I need and 7 works perfectly well.

      Truer words were never spoken.

      // why do you hate progress?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Don't understand what all the fuss is about

        re: why do you hate progress?

        This is Microsoft we are talking about. Didn't you know that SatNad has put an RDF over Redmond to keep out the riff-raff such as us Users.

        They will keep on doing their own sweet thing and ignoring what we want. SatNad must have been a Steve Jobs disciple in his younger days.

      2. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Don't understand what all the fuss is about

        Where in my comment did I use the word hate?

        As for progress, there is no reason why progress could not be incorporated into any of the OSs MS have produced over the last decades if they had planned to do it that way.

        However, their business model until W10 has been the system of selling a 'Totally new improved' OS every few years because it is a standard marketing method. With ten they realised 'as a service' would have the potential of producing updates more frequently which they will be able to charge for.

        Whether any of this is progress depends on the offers and what the users actually want. For now 7 is adequate for me so anything that 10 has to offer is irrelevant, when support ceases for seven, ten will become relevant and I will progress to ten.

        A great many new offers from sellers are not necessarily progress just different.

        There is a good chance that come 2020 I will migrate to linux and MS can fuck off with its growing telemetry.

  3. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Meh

    Yay, technology

    We're back where we were with Windows 3.11 and a custom colour palette. Except 700* times more memory, of course.

    * Something like 3MB to 2GB.

    1. Christian Berger Silver badge

      Re: Yay, technology

      Actually even earlier than that, however early browsers just used the system colours to display websites... and had a way to control each of the fonts used.

  4. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
    Windows

    Green screens making a comeback?

    I recall green...wait, or was it amber...being hailed as an improvement over the white CRT.

    The grass is always greener...

    1. Long John Brass Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: Green screens making a comeback?

      The correct and proper colour scheme is black background with amber text.

      Now get the hell off my lawn!

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Green screens making a comeback?

        black background with amber text.

        Or, in my case, green lettering on a black background. Using EBCIDIC. And a right-hand CTRL key that acted as a Return key.

  5. Douchus McBagg

    well that didn't take long

    its almost like you can set a timer for someone to take their own personal use case and make it Microsoft's fault that blahblahblah boohoo whinge windows7 ftw.

    did you read the article about how its outlook.com? nothing to do with windows, nothing to do with office, or internet explorer, or edge....

    I dunno why its taken so long for this dark mode to become more pervasive. any chance of a version of the el'reg site that's not like staring at a 60watt bulb? :D

    1. Jan 0

      Re: well that didn't take long

      @ Douchus

      > any chance of a version of the el'reg site that's not like staring at a 60watt bulb? :

      The interface in front of you is yours. If you want dark sludge on crepuscular purple, adjust YOUR interface. Customisation, geddit?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here we go again

    Microsoft warns that the functionality may not work in all browsers and recommends users having problems switch to Edge.

    They don't change, do they?

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: Here we go again

      And Google have never recommended viewing stuff in Chrome...

      1. gujiguju

        Re: Here we go again

        True enough.

        I would note as Google started growing fast, way back, most (or many) of the management team were former Microsofties...so the same "embrace and extinguish" approach with a fake "don't be evil" feeling from Brin & Page became the norm...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Here we go again

      "They don't change, do they?"

      Well it is at least faster and uses less memory than Chrome.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Here we go again

        Why would I want it to use less memory?

        I bought that RAM to use it, not to make the "unused RAM" number bigger.

        I want my applications to use all the RAM they can, and to give it up immediately when no longer in the foreground.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Here we go again

          "I want my applications to use all the RAM they can"

          Presumably only if there is some benefit to that. Edge is faster while requiring fewer resources. Win Win.

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Here we go again

        Well it is at least faster and uses less memory than Chrome.

        I'd like to say that it steals less user information than Chrome but we all know that isn't so, eh boys and girls?

        (I'll stick to Firefox thankyouverymuch. It might not be the best browser out there but at least I can customise it and it doesn't insist on sending all my data to it's slave-handler..)

  7. JohnFen Silver badge

    Not unwelcome

    "Or an unwelcome distraction to those who don't understand what the fuss is all about"

    I don't understand what the fuss is all about -- for me, dark interfaces are more difficult to read than light, so I don't use them. But clearly there are people who are the opposite of me, and I have no problem with software being able to accommodate them. Just so long as I don't have to put up with the darkness myself.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not unwelcome

      Well said. White on black and dark themes mitigate my visual impairment. I applaud anyone who tries to cater for everyone's needs.

    2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Not unwelcome

      The problem is Slurp is not thinking that users should have real options and there is a good reason for very dark color text on a very light background. Granted there are people with visual problems where the opposite is better and the option should be there for them. But for most of us with relatively normal, if aging, vision dark text on a light background is the best.

      One of my pet peeves is when the hipsters forget to ask a few gray hairs to look at the UI. A lot of UI issues would be fixed toot suit. But the hipsters have no clue about cataracts, etc.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not unwelcome

        "One of my pet peeves is when the hipsters forget to ask a few gray hairs to look at the UI."

        Or even waved an accessibility toolkit in its rough direction. Thankfully, come 23rd September, a few more web developers will be familiar with this sort of thing (in the EU at least - all public-sector web sites must meet WAI 2.1 AA...)

      2. revenant Bronze badge

        Re: Not unwelcome

        @ a_yank_lurker

        One of my pet peeves is when the hipsters forget to ask a few gray hairs to look at the UI.

        Good point, but the way things are these days, I imagine the hipsters wouldn't be able to even find a grey-hair in the building, let alone think they might have something worthwhile to say.

      3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Not unwelcome

        But the hipsters have no clue about cataracts

        Except in the "Niagra Falls" sense. Some of the ones I've met would definately be improved by a trip over NF - either in or out of a barrel.

  8. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Coat

    Oblig

    LookOut ... It's Dark Outside...

    Coat with a really good torch in the pocket

  9. herman Silver badge

    Hmm, where is my Hercules card, green monitor and log printer...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ... so paper really is dead wood then?

  10. VicMortimer
    Mushroom

    No. Just no.

    The last time dark mode looked good was when the only options were green text on black or amber text on black, and you had to choose those when you bought the monitor.

    Stop trying to bring it back.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Great!

    It's much easier to sleep in front of a dark UI. Now the only problem I face in catching some zees at work is I haven't figured out how to disable the motion-activated lights - move in your sleep, and it's like "let there be light!". I need to fix it so I don't trigger the lights, but if anyone is coming down the corridor towards my area, then they turn on so I can wake up and look busy!

    1. InNY

      Re: Great!

      Now we know it's you hard at work in the California DMV. :D

      For those not in the know:

      https://www.sfchronicle.com/news/article/California-DMV-worker-slept-3-hours-a-day-on-the-13101363.php

    2. hmv

      Re: Great!

      Sorted!

      My desk is out of range of the motion detectors and when I manage to scare people out of the corridor that my desk is in, the lights will go out whether I'm banging out prose, code, pointing and drooling, or snoozing.

  12. Palpy
    Pint

    If you want it. Not for me.

    Use cases and aesthetic subjectivity has to be taken as read, here.

    That said, dark-theme showed up quite a long time ago as the default in some Linux applications in certain distros, and I (with full-throated aesthetic subjectivity) loathe it. Glad it works so well for some people. Some people love the live-tile stuff in Win 10, too, but to me it's like having brightly-colored cockroaches on my screen, squirming uncontrollably.

    However, my involvement with MS Outlook will last, at most, three more days. [cue old-guy laugh] Heh, heh, heh. Beer, because I'm having a retirement party.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: If you want it. Not for me.

      "Beer, because I'm having a retirement party."

      Welcome.

  13. tekHedd

    All the hate for dark

    I like dark interfaces. The glaring white becomes exhausting after 10-12 hours.

    I'm frankly surprised. It's only taken them, well, literally from the launch of the service until now to come up with a dark skin, one of the easiest things to do with modern CSS-based interfaces, and people are still complaining about the "waste of resources." This is why we can't have nice things.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: All the hate for dark

      It's more that I'd really prefer them to make it work properly in the first place.

      Skins are great, but assuming they don't have infinite resources I would rather they fix the bugs. Like the way it randomly freezes up and refuses to send emails.

  14. stephanh Silver badge
    Facepalm

    So this great technical breakthrough was achieved....

    ....by editing the colors in the CSS?

    Well, I can see that taking all of a day, if the CSS was particularly badly factored.

    1. Pirate Dave
      Pirate

      Re: So this great technical breakthrough was achieved....

      Let's not be too harsh - there was probably a committee involved, and possibly high ranking members of the upper Management team. Meetings, lots of meetings to decide WHICH shade of dark, dark grey was most fitting, or should they switch to dark, dark gray instead? Meetings need donuts and drinks, which means caterers needed to be scheduled. And point-release reveals to the various mid-management teams. More meetings to integrate their better suggestions. More donuts. Finally the big release to the Executive Management team, and more meetings to figure out the most politic way to NOT integrate their horrible suggestions.

      Surprising they got it out at all then.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So this great technical breakthrough was achieved....

      "by editing the colors in the CSS? Well, I can see that taking all of a day, if the CSS was particularly badly factored."

      Editing the CSS probably wouldn't take long. Selecting the correct colours to use can be a surprisingly complex task, especially if you care about accessibility (e.g. red on black can be really bad for some people with eye issues).

  15. bed

    OLED power usage?

    Do dark themes use less power on OLED screens?

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: OLED power usage?

      Yes, if it's AMOLED. No, if it's just plain OLED (OLED still uses a backlight which remains on no matter whether the screen is showing black or not). In real-world usage studies I've seen, if you are using AMOLED and keeping everything as close to true black as possible while still being able to read it, the power savings is around 15-20%.

      1. Christian Berger Silver badge

        Re: OLED power usage?

        You are confusing OLED with LED. "LED"-screens are just regular (usually TFT-) LCD screens with LED backlights. Any OLED technology will actually have pixels lighting up and no backlight. In fact there are currenty OLED lamps actually being made.

        You can see that when you look up the datasheet of any OLED display. Here's one example of one not claiming to be AMOLED.

        http://cdn-reichelt.de/documents/datenblatt/A400/DS_OLED_EA.pdf

        As you can see there's no

        AMOLED essentially is just OLED with extra transistors. Apparently those are used (with capacitors) to actually store the image on the screen, and to control it by constant current instead of scanning it.

  16. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Peril Sensitive Outlook

    In these days of malware that just wants you to link in a link this is an excellent solution - black text on a black background, I love it!

    1. stiine Bronze badge

      Re: Peril Sensitive Outlook

      It's just as easy to read as white-on-white, as long as you click and drag to select the relevant text, since it changes it to highlight color, and if all else fails, paste it into a file and use 'cat -t -v $filename'.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All your mail are belong to us

    Finally, the dark web, right there, as my inbox.

  18. Sudosu

    It is very dark.

    You may be eaten by a grue.

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: It is very dark.

      You may be eaten by a grue.

      Some days that would count as a more positive outcome.

      (Yes, the painkillers are not working today. And I refuse to move to stronger ones since I know that those too will inevitably fail or leave me (more of) a drooling idiot. And have worse side-effects).

  19. bobajob12

    Outlook, the last bastion of weird customization hackery

    Some of us folks spend our days in the Outlook desktop client. In that world, the customization options are just bizarre.

    • For a start, it doesn't seem to respect the Windows theme (y'know, like every other Windows app does, lest MSFT come down on them like a ton of bricks).
    • You can change your theme between Colorful, Gray, White and Black, but in reality, anything other than Colorful leads to weird artifacts on screen, like the word "To:" being black on black.
    • There's a weird customization option that does nothing more than put a little watermark on your ribbon, eg a little swirl. Maybe 10-12 choices here. But for the love of god, why?

    There are some days I really miss Pine.

    1. bobajob12
      Facepalm

      Re: Outlook, the last bastion of weird customization hackery

      Oh, and I forgot the Outlook Today panel. You can have Winter or Summer. Irrespective of any other color scheme/theme/customization it has going on. What??

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Outlook, the last bastion of weird customization hackery

      There's a weird customization option that does nothing more than put a little watermark on your ribbon, eg a little swirl. Maybe 10-12 choices here. But for the love of god, why?

      If it were user definable, I could put the design that best suits the kind of corporate e-mail I receive, i.e. Munch's The Scream. However it isn't, so I just leave it blank.

    3. RFC822

      Re: Outlook, the last bastion of weird customization hackery

      You can change your theme between Colorful, Gray, White and Black

      Don't know what version of Outlook you're running, but here (Office 2016) I only have a choice of Colorful, Dark Gray or White.

      I'd love to have an option of Black, which work better for my (far from youthful!) eyes ... but then again, my personal preference is for yellow text on a navy background!

  20. chivo243 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    If Lego Batman cried. Which he doesn't.

    I thought he liked only black, and sometimes grey? Blues? C'mon, even my son knows better ;-}

  21. ToFab

    The mosquito factor

    I live in Thailand. I spend a lot of time outside. In a jungle. There is a significant difference in the number of insects depending on if you use something with a dark theme vs a white theme. Using white theme is like pointing a flash light towards your face and mosquitos love that

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The mosquito factor

      There's a place for low-light UI - but they would not use white-on-black. They would usually use red or green (sometimes blue) not to ruin darkness adaptation, and avoid to make you too visible in the night (when you have good reason to be not visible).

  22. rmullen0

    My middle aged eyes prefer the dark background

    I'm glad they are adding dark theme support. I hope they do it to all their apps. Also, I'm glad they added Nightlight mode to Windows 10. A lot of the LED monitors are too bright, even when set to the lowest brightness settings. I would switch everything to dark mode if I could. 25 years of black on white is enough for me. I'm ready for something different. Also, I am happen with the new flat UI now. It looks a lot better than all previous versions of Windows. Windows 7 looked cheesy and lame. Also, I'm glad that they finally have some halfway decent pictures that they display on the desktop now. Much better than XP grass hill picture.

    1. rmullen0

      Re: My middle aged eyes prefer the dark background

      Also, I would like to add, that I wish the PC makers would stop using gloss screens for monitors on laptops. They are absolutely horrible. The matte ones from a decade ago are much better. Much less glare and reflection. Apple's gloss screens in particular are terrible. Try reading something with a light behind you. You are blinded be the reflection of the light. I have a cheap HP laptop with a matte screen from a decade plus ago which is vastly superior to the monitor on my MacBook Air. Also, the MacBook Air, while running Windows, doesn't let you turn the brightness down far enough. The HP doesn't have that problem. Lose the gloss monitors please.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmm:

    Microsoft warns that the functionality may not work in all browsers and recommends users having problems switch to Edge

    Microsoft has deliberately tweaked this so that that the functionality may not work at all with Internet Explorer 11 and recommends Windows 7 users having problems switch to Edge which is only available on Windows 10.

    TFTFY

    1. Cavehomme_ Bronze badge

      Re: Hmm:

      It’s not as if Google don’t optimise for Chrome is it?

  24. 0laf Silver badge
    Facepalm

    And so it's come to this...

    ..That being able to change the background colour on a website email app is headline news.

    I would have jested "welcome to 1995" but even then this wouldn't be news.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Instead of predefined dark and light schemes, why not let the users pick their own colours out of a 24bit palette?

  26. Mark3

    MS UI design influenced by HHGTTG?

    "‘It’s the wild colour scheme that freaks me out,’ said Zaphod, whose love affair with the ship had lasted almost three minutes into the flight. 'Every time you try and operate these weird black controls that are labeled in black on a black background, a little black light lights up in black to let you know you’ve done it.’"

    Zaphod Beeblebrox, The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe

  27. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    Hey

    Who turned out the lights?

  28. MaltaMaggot
    Go

    Lets Crowdfund some comedy on MS exploits...

    Garth Marengi's Dark Interface anyone...?

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What MS needs is a new CEO that can actually deliver products users want . I suggest Meg Whitman. Hey stop laughing, stop making fun of me. Oh crap whats with the pitch forks and torches ?

  30. dajames Silver badge

    Madness in cycles

    I recall working -- ooh, a few years back -- with a couple of people who liked to use dark-on-white (dark blue, I think, was their preference) schemes in text-mode DOS on CGA screens (I said it was a few years back) because it was "easier to read".

    Yes, it was easy to read ... until you made the text scroll, when it flickered like a disco and made my eyes hurt to look at it.

    Nevertheless, my colleagues insisted that the default white-on-black was harder to read ...

  31. fidodogbreath Silver badge

    The 1980s called

    They think it's cute that our clever millennial programmers have "invented" black-screen terminals with light text.

  32. eionmac

    Totally wrong for elderly like me!

    I struggle very much to view any dark theme. It jars on the eyesight and has caused me to switch Linux distros to avoid dark backgrounds. This is not suitable for anyone whose eyesight is failing, that is those over 50 years of age.

  33. aqk
    Pint

    Gee! What a BRILLIANT IDEA!

    Why cannot we get our newspapers (yes, the paper ones) printed in these colours?

    An ALL-BLACK newspaper, with white or faint grey lettering on it. It would look just like my old VT220 monitor of 1992! Perhaps GREEN text on the page would be even more agreeable to today's generation.

    This would be a boon to the failing newsprint companies! Not to mention the ink companies.

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