It figures. I wrote a post about Windows 8 that included the current Windows logo, a fancy multicolored-waving-window-thingie-hovering-inside-a-glossy-circle. And then, shortly after pressing “Publish,” I read a Microsoft blog post that unveils the new, extremely different Windows 8 logo, seen above.
(The logo, incidentally, appears to make official that the product code-named “Windows 8″ will actually ship under that name–although Microsoft, curiously, was unwilling to confirm that fact with ZDNet’s Mary-Jo Foley.)
Microsoft’s Sam Moreau explains the reasoning behind the minimalist look in the blog post:
With Windows 8, we approached the logo redesign with a few key goals on mind.
1. We wanted the new logo to be both modern and classic by echoing the International Typographic Style (or Swiss design) that has been a great influence on our Metro style design philosophy. Using bold flat colors and clean lines and shapes, the new logo has the characteristics of way-finding design systems seen in airports and subways.
2. It was important that the new logo carries our Metro principle of being “Authentically Digital”. By that, we mean it does not try to emulate faux-industrial design characteristics such as materiality (glass, wood, plastic, etc.). It has motion – aligning with the fast and fluid style you’ll find throughout Windows 8.
3. Our final goal was for the new logo to be humble, yet confident. Welcoming you in with a slight tilt in perspective and when you change your color, the logo changes to reflect you. It is a “Personal” Computer after all.
I like the logo. Or at least I don’t dislike it. I don’t think Microsoft is attempting to provoke profound emotions here–it’s a simple, low-key iconographic representation of the concept of Windows, and it expresses the same aesthetic as the Metro user interface which is Windows 8’s most important new feature by far. (It’s also remarkably reminiscent of the original mid-1980s Windows logo that nobody, including me, remembers.)
After reading Moreau’s item, I trolled the web for reactions. And I was startled to find that the logo does provoke profound emotions for some folks:
- BetaNews’s Joe Wilcox illustrates his post about it with a picture of the Titanic;
- Sean Ludwig of VentureBeat thinks it looks like it was created in Microsoft–ouch!–Paint.
- Armin Vit of UnderConsideration says it’s “a real loser”
Look, I enjoy being offended by corporate branding as much as the next consumer: I was outraged by the short-lived new Gap logo even though I’ve never spent a nickel in a Gap store and couldn’t remember what the old Gap logo looked like.
But even though I find the Windows 8 logo bland, I find that approach appropriate. The old Microsoft consistently went overboard selling Windows, with splashy logos and overly exuberant slogans such as “The Wow Starts Now.” But I don’t want to be wowed by my operating system–I want it to get out of my face, and not break, and generally be a platform for useful applications that make my life better rather than a glorious experience unto itself.
Performance, in other words, is far more important than promises. Maybe Microsoft gets that: Moreau hints at it when he says that one goal was to create a logo that was humble.
Come to think of it, the greatest tech marketer of ’em all, Apple, doesn’t seem to place much importance on operating system logos. I don’t think that OS X even has a logo, unless you count the glamorous big cat photos that accompany each release. And I’m not sure if the goofy happy-face Mac logo is officially retired, or just pretty much dormant.
If Windows 8 is a hit, the logo won’t have anything to do with it. If it’s an abysmal flop, the logo won’t be to blame. Isn’t it almost certain to be true that the Windows 8 logo, having hit the news with this announcement, will never matter much to anyone ever again? (I sure don’t plan to write about it!)
Isn’t that kind of refreshing in a world of overdone marketing and branding that tries way too hard?