In Window 10 Microsoft has opted to use a rather dark gray background color for disabled buttons. Other disabled UI elements still use the light gray old pre Windows 10 disabled color. To me disabled buttons now stand out way to much in dialogs stealing my focus away from enabled UI elements. And the text on disabled buttons are now much harder to read.

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But are there any usability improvements or other advantage behind this change?

And is it a good idea to revert to the old color for disabled buttons in our Windows only desktop application? Or do I just bite the bullet and accept what I see as a lower usability of our application when running on Windows 10.

  • 2
    The real problem is that this practice was established when the background was grey and they've changed it to white. IMHO the sooner this flat UI trend passes the better, it is kiddy and unhelpful.
    – JamesRyan
    Aug 13, 2015 at 11:27
  • Could you add some context to your question: what happens on hover and on click/tap, if anything? In comparison, what happens on hover and on click/tap for an active button—is there a change in value (darkness)?
    – JeromeR
    Aug 14, 2015 at 7:04
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    @JeromeR hover or interaction over/with disabled buttons doesn't do anything at all. While enabled UI elements will show different kinds of highlights depending on your actions. So it's quite obvious the button is disabled when you try to interact with it. It's just the way it stands out and the poor contrast between text and background color the bothers me.
    – mikag
    Aug 14, 2015 at 8:15
  • @mikag You said there are different kinds of highlights on hover, click/tap. Do any of them include a change in value (lightness or darkness), at all?
    – JeromeR
    Aug 14, 2015 at 21:55
  • @JeromeR well mouse over will change the background of an enabled button to light blue and pressing the button will change the background color to a slightly darker blue color.
    – mikag
    Aug 17, 2015 at 7:43

1 Answer 1


I find it all speculative, kinda like understanding what an artists means with his art. But to me it seems that by "darkening" the disabled, they want to make it like "the light isn't on", nobody is home thus it isn't enabled. Personally I find that this stands out more than the W8.1... In the end, I guess it's an easy to test out situation and can even be measured without anyone being there: how many times does one try to interact with the disabled button, compared to the previous variant.

I guess W10 designers did the test and where inclined to change it for a reason.

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