Microsoft: Shots fired in Emoji War

Microsoft has replaced their water pistol emoji with a handgun and now all hell’s broken loose

As part of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, Microsoft has unveiled Project Emoji, a total redesign of the glyphs. But what’s made the changes controversial is the company’s decision to swap a toy gun with a real one.

In a statement to Engadget, a spokesperson for the company said that “our intent with every glyph is to align with the global Unicode standard, and the previous design did not map to industry designs or our customers’ expectations of the emoji definition”. In other words, a emoji called a gun should probably look like, well, a gun.

This stacks Microsoft at philosophical odds against Apple, which recently added new emoji to iOS 10 and macOS Sierra and included a water pistol icon for the gun emoji. Although both firms are part of Unicode Consortium – the organisation that regulates emoji standards so that all emojis can be deciphered equitably across all platforms – their approaches couldn’t be more different.

Despite this, Microsoft has the freedom to design emojis as they desire, and their choice to use a real hand gun over the playful pistol may help to make their vast emoji keyboard feel “more human”.

Overall, the update is a significant one, with Microsoft releasing 1,700 new glyphs and up to 52,000 emojis.

Meanwhile, Apple has been criticised for the design of its gun emoji by Emojipedia, an emoji search engine, which pointed out that switching the gun from a realistic icon to a water pistol could lead to some potentially tricky situations where an otherwise innocent reference to a water fight could look like something much more sinister.

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