The new Windows logo: A Genius Rebranding?

The recently revealed Windows 8 logo is a radical shift in the Windows logo. Several journalists were eager to voice their criticism shortly after the reveal, others simply stayed quiet. In this post I’ll talk about my opinions on the new Windows 8 logo, and why I think it’s a genius move on Microsoft’s part.

Prelude #0: People don’t like the new logo

Even soon after the logo appeared, the first rants entered the MyDigitalLife forums and Twitter. People didn’t like it, it was weirdly shaped, too simplistic and had a weird bright blue color. People like Stephen Chapman and Larry Dignan have voiced decent opinions on why they don’t like the logo.

Prelude #1: Microsoft doesn’t listen to the logo’s designers

See Long Zheng’s article on the subtle differences between the logo as posted by Microsoft and the design studio Pentagram.

Below are some of my thoughts on the Windows 8 logo, but first a recap of all official version of the logos as shown by Microsoft and the design studio Pentagram:

win8logodiffwinwindddd

It shows the bold change that is Microsoft

One of the things I see most is that people still have a very bad image of Microsoft today. Many people still have the Windows XP era Microsoft in mind. Today I still bump into comics were they bash Internet Explorer, but explicitly show Internet Explorer 8 running on Windows XP. When they talk about technology on TV, they almost always show an old bulky Windows XP PC. Whenever my friends see someone use Bing, they have to instantly laugh and moan. When asked why they do that, it turns out they don’t know anything about Bing. They just laugh because “it’s Microsoft”. (Example, posted today.)

People nowadays really have this thick “it’s Microsoft so it’s bad” mindset, which is unfortunate since Microsoft greatly changed in the last 5 years. A great example of that is Windows Phone 7.5. While I strongly urge for a complete Microsoft rebranding, I’m more than happy that they radically overhauled the Windows logo. It was a necessity, and the timing is more than right now.

No more Web 2.0, no more flags

I’m really no fan of the Web 2.0 logo’s with overly used gradients, shadows, reflections, details and highlights. A good example would be the Windows Vista orb. I like clean and simple logo’s better and I’m really glad the new Windows logo is so simple made up of flat colors. It’s so simple that it even becomes powerful.

Because of the flat colors, the logo’s color can be altered in many different ways without losing authenticity. I especially love the grey versions, and the textless version only showing the Windows… window. Yeah, I’m glad they finally removed the flag.

An interesting perspective

The window has been put into a perspective so that it faces away from the “Windows 8” text. Stephen notes in his article that it feels like the window and the text are two different things, for me they complement each other.  By not making the window entirely flat, it feels like the logo (and Windows itself) is radically different from other logo’s and their products. It feels dominant, relentless and ever lasting.

I tried imagining the window in other perspectives, and I feel like what Pentagram did was the right thing. It stays powerful, regardless of the used colors, as long as the above perspective is there.  I also can’t help it that the perspective of the logo resembles a lot of Windows 8’s subtle built-in animations, and just a tiny tiny bit of.. familiarity?

In the end

I understand and agree with some of the criticism, it’s well-argued and understandable. As with each new iteration of something, be it a complete user interface change or a simple logo change, it’s bound to get people mad. People don’t like change, certainly not after a long time but people adapt, and might come to like the change. I don’t think the new Windows logo is a missed opportunity, rather the contrary. The new Windows logo is a clever move, one that shows that Windows is greatly different from the “old” Windows,and one that shows how Windows will continue to play an important role in a new era of PCs..

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