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This article was published on February 17, 2012

The new Windows 8 logo: An abomination or a fresh sign of change?

The new Windows 8 logo: An abomination or a fresh sign of change?
Harrison Weber
Story by

Harrison Weber

Harrison Weber is TNW's Features Editor in NYC. Part writer, part designer. Stay in touch: Twitter @harrisonweber, Google+ and Email. Harrison Weber is TNW's Features Editor in NYC. Part writer, part designer. Stay in touch: Twitter @harrisonweber, Google+ and Email.

The rumors that surfaced earlier this week were true: Windows has a new logo.

If you take a look at Windows’ logo designs on a timeline, you’ll see that a new logo isn’t much of a surprise at all. Vista, XP, 2000, 98, 3.1, 89 and 1.0 all have their own logos.

But over the past few designs, Microsoft has taken a glossy, almost Apple-esque approach. Some of its past logos never reproduced well in print or at small sizes, but became ubiquitous nonetheless. So here we are, approaching the Windows 8 launch and the daring goal, going full Metro (unifying desktop and mobile operating systems) — of course we need a logo refresh.

The Windows 8 logo, however, is the most drastic logo redesign that the OS has ever seen, created by the highly renowned Paula Scher of Pentagram. She’s a goddamned design rock star if there ever was one, and I’m willing to compare her to true giants like Milton Glaser and Paul Rand (stone me if you must).

In her assessment, she brought up a point that represents a lot of mishaps for Microsoft. Paula asked Microsoft a simple question, “Your name is Windows. Why are you a flag?

This simple statement carries more validity than I can process in one sitting. Imagine if Apple’s logo wasn’t an apple, but some sort of lost representation of fruit or a flag or anything else. For Windows to go back to a logo that is actually a window makes complete sense. At this point, I hardly even care about the results. The logic here is too sound. Now, on to the final product.

It is interesting, to say the least. It will certainly catch everyone off guard, and does away with a lot of brand recognition that Windows has gathered over the years. The OS has made major switches like this before, but I can’t help but feel that this strong deviation at such a pivotal time is a little risky.

So far, the reactions have been, of course, mixed.

The redesign takes a markedly Swiss approach, with one solid color and zero shine or shadow. I honestly feel that getting rid of all that gloss makes for a much more timeless logo and should help it look less dated over time. I’ll take this one step further and say I wish Apple would do away with gloss altogether in their signature apple logo, because looking back, aspects like shine never age well.

Back to the Windows logo, the actual perspective is strange, and causes the entire logo to point to the left, even as the text reads to the right. I can’t help but think that the viewing angle is too strong. A flat window would have been blander but the current angle is almost jarring.

According to the Windows blog, here are the goals for the logo redesign:

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.

As with all big changes, it’s hard not to feel uncomfortable. Having just seen it myself, I’ll have to live with it for a few days before reaching the final verdict. I like it, and I’m tempted to lean on Pentagram’s past success rate as a global design firm, but even their reputation isn’t bullet-proof. I certainly applaud the simplicity and directness, but I am not fully sold on the final results.

What do you think of the new design? Did you see this drastic of a change coming, or are you disgusted and completely caught off guard?

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