Why does the Windows 8 sign-in animation slide upward?

The early design for the animation that occurs when you sign in was to take your logon wallpaper and open it up like a curtain.


This worked well for nature photos.

However, it is very common for users to put pictures of people on their logon wallpaper. The likelihood of putting a person on your logon wallpaper is strongly correlated to whether you have children.[citation needed]


It turns out that people don't react well when they see their children's heads cut in half.

That's why the sign-in animation is careful not to cut the picture into pieces.

Comments (31)
  1. Boris says:

    Rather than splitting the wallpaper, how about doubling it onto left and right “doors” that open into the third dimension, away from the user, allowing them to pass through into the wonderful world of Windows?

    1. Curious says:

      Boris: doesnt fix the problem of splitting heads.

      It is a fun animation. If only it wasn’t also a barrier taking one more keypress to start entering our creds :^)

      1. Boris says:

        The child wouldn’t split, more like fuzzily duplicate into mirrored twins, who would then recede in angular motion on either side of the screen.


        followed by

        followed by


        followed by


        followed by

        | the user whooshing through here |

    2. Brad Westness says:

      It’s called “Windows,” so it makes sense that it opens like a window, and not a door. :P

      1. Dee2849083 says:

        Only half of my window opens! :-(

      2. Boris says:

        No, because in order to look out the various windows and see the whole wide world, you first need to enter the room containing them.

  2. Curious says:

    Thinking about it a tiny bit more, it’s almost a bummer that since it was already implemented, they didn’t keep it as an option and hide it somewhere in the new wonderful settings pane.

  3. Nice use of Unicode and CSS!

  4. Vilx- says:

    I’m still waiting for a possibility (API? video support? whatever) to put animation on the lock screen background. Screen savers might be dead, but lock screens are the new black, and artful animation could make them so much prettier. Then again, I’m still mourning the loss of beautiful Aero, so I guess that my tastes don’t align very well with those of Microsoft. :P

    1. I think part of it has to do with Microsoft’s aggressive stance towards battery friendliness, which admittedly is much appreciated for those that use power-constrained devices. Of course, Windows could still be designed to allow for more animations and fluidity when plugged into a power source and then disable them or reduce their draw timer intervals when on battery. Maybe in a future Win10 release.

      As for the loss of Aero, I think custom shell themes would be a nice future feature rather than a Modern/Aero/Classic toggle.

      1. In fact, I am also very fond of Aero. But that doesn’t matter, since I cannot upgrade to Windows 10 at all, because I use Windows Media Center daily, and I love it.

        1. Erkin Alp Güney says:

          There are open source media center software more functional than Windows Media Center(cannot name due to the rules). What makes you dependent on it?

          1. I have used WMC daily for more than ten years, so I am pretty used to it. I really like the user interface: it is very elegant and beautiful; in comparison, third-party HTPC applications look “childish”. Also, I like the video controls in WMC (10 secs back, 30 secs forward, or whatever it is).

            More generally: why abandon a perfectly working system? I have limited time, and I completely love Windows 7/Office 2010/WMC — why risk it?

          2. Mark Y says:

            I don’t think the blog rules prevent naming here. The blog rules are meant to prevent “name & shame” behavior.

  5. Ezhik says:

    I thought you simply used the same animation that was used for Windows Phone.

  6. I like the slide up to login feature. What I hate is the slide down to power off feature that is incorporated to the windows phone. The picture has already been slid up, and my normal inclination is to slide it back down to be able to see the entire picture. That turns off my phone, which is generally not what I wanted, and takes time to shut down and then restart.

  7. Jolyon Direnko-Smith says:

    Point of order m’lud!

    This explains why the wallpaper doesn’t split. It doesn’t explain why it slides UP, rather than sliding DOWN, or left or right or some other animation that would not otherwise split the image.

    1. Ben says:

      Actually it does: the idea was to have it open like a curtain. (Presumably as a kind of stage metaphor)

      The first thought was to have it open like a traveler, but when that didn’t work out, they didn’t abandon the curtain idea, they just changed to an Austrian curtain.

    2. Guest says:

      Well if they used a curtain metaphor with the slide to open animation, perhaps after that didn’t work out they kept the metaphor to make the curtain rise instead. That’s what I thought when I read it.

    3. Christian says:

      It still acts like a curtain. A curtain which goes to the top instead of splitting to the left and right. I have seen curtains like that in theaters but i haven’t seen a curtain which goes down.

    4. Brad Westness says:

      I’d guess it’s because up is the most similar to a curtain opening, if that was the original design. If you’re opening a (real) window, or raising your blinds, they go up. This is consistent with the “Windows” metaphor. Also going left or right would take longer on widescreen displays.

      1. Jolyon Direnko-Smith says:

        I’m glad you said “blinds” because my curtains open left/right, not up/down, and if the original design goal was “curtain-like” then left/right would be nearer the original goal. ;)

        The only “curtains” that go “up” (that I can think of) are those in SLR camera’s (the shutter curtain) and the old “safety curtains”, back in the day when audiences could smoke in theatres. But those were in front of stages/screens/film emulsion/imaging sensors, not windows, so I’m not convinced that there was any “consistent window metaphor” in play. Just a design decision. :)

      2. RP says:

        In my experience it’s rare for windows to open upwards. Is that an American thing?
        In Britain, house windows open outwards. Car windows open downwards. Bus and train windows might sometimes open upwards, not sure.

        1. In the United States, so-called single hung windows are quite common.

    5. Dave Bacher says:

      To log in on a touch device, you touch the center of the screen and pull up.

      Pulling down is power off (sometimes, at least).

  8. cheong00 says:

    I thought it was made to be consistant with the gesture to unlock the device – You flip up to flip the lock screen upward to enter you password / PIN. Flip down is reserved to shutdown the device.

  9. Magnus says:

    Windows could have kept a horizontally-opening curtain with Clippy (or whatever the latest annoybot is called) entering and trying to open the curtains, not being able to find the divide, and finally giving up, gathering the curtains together in its arms, and tearing them all down at once.

  10. frosty840 says:

    Meanwhile here’s me wishing it didn’t animate at all so that I could just unlock the stupid thing and get back to work. Sadly, no, I have to tap a key and then wait for the animation to finish before the single input-enabled textbox on the screen will take my password…

  11. smf says:

    Why not let the user configure which direction they want their children decapitated? Instead of only showing them being abducted by aliens?

    1. Pseudo-Anon says:

      Isn’t it said a clean break is best? Having them go at once is better than having them slowly decapitated?

      Also, if the “curtain” joins, isn’t that a union?

  12. Nuanced says:

    The entire concept of a lockscreen on a desktop/laptop is silly. There should be an option which shows the password box immediately, just like Win 7. No need to swipe/click/press a key.

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