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Microsoft gets a new logo for the first time since 1987 (nwsource.com)
320 points by cleverjake on Aug 23, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 231 comments

The logo is O.K. Their homepage http://microsoft.com looks like a mix between a "corporate" website template you'd buy for $50 and a domain squatting page with amazon referral links.

Gosh I want to cheer for microsoft but they make it real hard.

The web came to Microsoft after the IPO. At the time, there were a lot employees with "fuck you money" and the web was still the wild west not a corporate branding commodity. Thus Microsoft's approach has been generally hands off and the first priority has always been to get information out on the web.

The idea of a monolithic website like Apple's or Google's just doesn't apply. It's not part of Microsoft's DNA. Compare:









Other than white backgrounds, it's not very consistent.

I understand what mean about it not being part of Microsoft's DNA, but it seems like you're trying to blame Microsoft's poor web presence on its age. How do you then rationalize other pre-Web companies like IBM and Apple who have managed to successfully embrace it?

IBM and Apple each have a more homogeneous audience.

IBM is a consulting company and courts mid- to upper-level manager types with purchasing authority. After few seconds on the page you are invited to speak with a sales consultant via a popup.

Apple is focused exclusively on the (premium) consumer space.

Both companies represent top-down totalitarianism (I say this without value-connotation): IBM suggest corporate command and control, Apple has a well-curated walled garden.

Microsoft's site reminds me of one of the more effective university websites.

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with any of those companies except as a consumer. My iPhone is my favorite toy.

I've said it before, but I feel Microsoft's problem is that they cannot say no to things.

This serves them well in the Enterprise, where every installation requires customisations (and people can afford to pay for the maintenance of those customisations) but spills over into everything they do, meaning they cannot keep things simple.

Interesting idea. Do you have any examples at the individual consumer level?

The dozens of different Windows versions, the fact that their new flagship tablet ships in two versions with incompatible instruction sets, where one will only run "Windows 8 style" applications, and that the operating system itself has two completely different user interfaces that doesn't interoperate well. Actually taking the Kin to product launch instead of killing it off internally and refocusing efforts at a time when Windows Mobile was losing market share.

>Actually taking the Kin to product launch instead of killing it off internally and refocusing efforts at a time when Windows Mobile was losing market share.

The Kin is a case study in everything that's wrong with Microsoft as a company.

In-fighting and turf wars, discarding products they bought up (e.g., Danger) to shoehorn in Microsoft technologies while failing to leverage their own technologies in places where they'd make sense, lack of a cohesive corporate vision, the list goes on.

Ars had a pretty decent post-mortem of the project.


While its probably correct to say that Microsoft does not have a homogenous audience and that that is why their online presence lacks the clarity of, say, Apple. I think the lack of clarity is a bad thing and Microsoft only really have themselves to blame for their audience.

If you're going to go after a very varied audience you should probably think carefully about whether you need to have lots of sub brands (e.g. Proctor & Gamble) so that your customers simply google for the sub brand, or whether you actually can attach some core values onto the parent brand that will be meaningful in all these different markets (e.g. Virgin or Disney). It's no good having a scatter gun product strategy then neglecting your branding and online presence because you sell to everyone everywhere.

Apple sold 18.65M iPhones in Q2 2011, that's iPhone alone, I think calling Apple's audience homogeneous is ridiculous, and falls under the same as "mac is for designers" old-fashion statement.

'Homogeneous' meaning that they've been focusing on the consumer market almost exclusively for the past ten years and especially so for the last five.

Whether Microsoft's web presence is poor depends on if it is compared to a cathedral or a bazaar [a bit ironic, ain't it?]

Keep in mind neither IBM or Apple had a 20% rate of employee millionaires in 1992.


In what parallel universe has Apple embraced the web to a greater degree than Microsoft?

Their browser works?

Is it a poor web presence? You haven't made a case for that, the only thing that's been stated is that the visual style is inconsistent between major areas. Is that a bad thing?

Consistently bad.

Depends on the relative values one places on form, content, and completeness.

In HN terms, Microsoft's website[s] is[are] great as MVP's and improvements thereupon.

On the other hand, in terms of Apple's ex cathedra philosophy, then perhaps, yes it[they] is[are] bad.

> yes it[they] is[are] bad

That was mind-breaking. My brain processed it as, "yes it they is er, what are aaaaah bad".

Well... They try to get to a new simplicity. I agree that they fail at making it great, but you´ve got to give them some love for trying.

Metro is actually innovative, yet not ideal for desktop PCs. And it´s just the same with the new Logo: Strict simplicity (which makes Apple great), but not thought through in a way.

To me it feels like there´s a gatekeeper at the top missing asking the tough questions before the product is out of the door. The one that asks: "But does it really make sense and how can we do better" when the managers self-congratulate themselves on the bold moves.

I don't like it either. Design isn't one of Microsofts strengths.

Not to mention the URL… http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/default.aspx, really? Have they not heard of internal/external URL mapping and Accept-Language?

Not to mention it won't even load for me; I guess they don't cache this stuff either.

LCIDs in the URI remove ambiguity about which language to serve (do you use Accept-Language? Or IP sniffing? Or user prefs in cookies?), they remove ambiguity about which storefront to show for a market and - most importantly - they make alternate language/markets indexable by search engines because each has a distinct URI.

Why are Apple, IBM, Amazon, Google doing it if it's such a terrible design?






> do you use Accept-Language? Or IP sniffing? Or user prefs in cookies?

How do you think they picked which language to serve me in the first place? ;) What you're saying is true about eliminating ambiguity but parent commenter just linked to microsoft.com.

When I had to do this for a site, the waterfall I settled on was:

    1. Did they just manually pick a language/is it in the URL? (serve that language, set cookie)
    2. Do they have a cookie? (serve that language)
    3. Do we support any of their Accept-Language prefs? (serve that language, set cookie)
    4. Serve en-us (fallback)
My points being a) Microsoft.com is using langauge-accept (probably) and b) you can support URL picking & language-accept and not always have an ugly URL.

EDIT: oops, changing my language to ``es``, clearing cookies & revisiting microsoft.com didn't change the language. I guess they are just serving everyone at .com English :p

Accept-Language is clearly the correct solution. It's easy to set in browsers (at least it is in Opera, if it's not in some other browser then I contend that's a UI bug), and OEMs should set it to a sane default for the region in which the browser is distributed.

The indexability is an interesting argument, but my response is that there should be a standard mechanism to query, via HTTP OPTIONS, in which languages a resource is available. By doing so, a user agent or search engine can easily index all versions of a resource.

Whether or not such a standard exists I do not know, but Google certainly has the clout to standardize such a mechanism (viz. sitemaps and #!).

Unfortunately Accept-Language simply doesn't work - if you talk to engineers at Google they'll tell you that they've done the research and an enormous number of browsers have the incorrect setting and hence send an inappropriate header.

How often is an accept-language that isn't set to English wrong?

What would you propose when, as translations have to be done manually, the available content for different pages is out of sync?

For example, maybe that latest product announcement hasn't been translated to French yet. If I send a product list URL to my french-speaking buddy, should the product disappear from the product list?

I guess it relates to the issue discussed here a day or two ago about redirection ("am I suddenly Japanese" or something like that; should have been "think I'm turning Japanese" ...). The default.aspx could be an affirmation of the backend being used so that when you see that elsewhere you know the server tech is MS, a sort of advertising/brand presence decision.

What I find interesting is that the new logo is not on the en-gb or fr-fr pages in the header bar and they use the old Microsoft trademark typeface. They also use the old Windows logo on, it seems, all but the en-us page. Complete mess in terms of brand presentation.

The default.aspx could be an affirmation of the backend being used so that when you see that elsewhere you know the server tech is MS, a sort of advertising/brand presence decision.

I thought of that too, but that's sort of like Toyota advertising what sort of engine a car has by leaving the muffler off of all the showroom models. Gearheads can tell the engine by the cacophony in the showroom lot, but everyone else will get the impression that Toyota's cars are noisy.

Stepping away from the analogy....

I'm not convinced that normal people care at all about the addition of a few characters in a URL that gives away what tech stack its working on.

Actually I noticed that they've recently started leaving off the .aspx extension on their MSDN pages.

For example: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/tt0cf3sx

That will happen more as they move from Asp.net webforms to ASP.NET MVC. the aspx extension has become shorthand for "someone still needs to upgrade that"

What is wrong with that url (except default.aspx)? It's widely used and I like if I'm not forced to some region or locale based on my IP and Accept-Language. Well, I still am but I can change it easily if they give me this url (or even better link on a page).

IP-sniffing is evil; I'm not advocating that.

Accept-Language is trivial to change; on Opera, it's one of the three things on the first tab of Preferences, and I can set it for all sites rather than on a per-site basis.

I wonder how you change it in the browser of another person that you sent this link to.

Why would you want to do that?

The content is (should be) identical, and the recipient of your link would most likely want to read the content in his/her preferred language.

If you really wanted to point out to them some discrepancy in the content of some particular language, then just tell them "switch your language to Chinese and look at xxx here".

On sites where linking to a particular language version of some resource makes sense (e.g. Wikipedia), by all means, accept a ?lang=de parameter… it's exactly as much mechanism as a directory component, but it doesn't imply any hierarchical structure, and can be dropped to obtain a "canonical" URL.

Microsoft itself provides a prime example for this: Knowledge-Base articles are often poorly translated and you really want to link to the english version if there is no translation available. Implicit content switches are really bad for the user experience.

Also, language versions of big websites often differ hierarchically as well, with the differences in hierarchy being directly bound to the language. On Wikipedia, the problem is so big that it is actually moved to the domain (the highest level of the hierarchy).

(should be): yes. It should be. In the ideal world of people that constructed RFCs. Sadly, there is a real world out there.

In the end, with my users hat on: I don't care. I want to send a link and I assume that my peer sees exactly what I see. I don't want to care about the details of your technical implementation of your website and whether it is structurally sound in the grand scheme of the interwebs. I also don't want to say "and switch to..." every time I send a link.

There is a positive side to this (as with mobile versions): If you give someone a link to part of a website, they'll get it in their language.

Microsoft isn't the only website that does this. It seems like most websites use the URL to specify this kind of thing.

No idea why they wouldn't just use their own MVC code that's now backed into the Visual Studio IDE.

The layout looks rational enough in the context of the tiled GUI layout they're trying to push.

But the top bar could be a few times thicker. It's too cramped. I tried a quick hack increasing the min-height attribute on hpHdr_PriRow to 50px, which gives much nicer proportions.

I agree. It's fairly in line with the new Metro and Phone 7 UIs. Not as polished though:

* In Chrome, the carousel controls at the top right are cut off. Intentional?

* The "For home" and "For work" buttons on the right shrink the margins between themselves and the carousel on hover but never quite bridge the gap, which looks awkward to my eye.

* The carousel is gigantic and hides all the content below it on all but the largest screen resolutions (and I thought Windows 8 is supposed to be running on small portable tablets?).

* The top menu under the logo is extremely cheesy with its thin 1px border on hover, never mind that it's next to invisible next to that massive carousel. When it comes to actually navigating the site to getting the user to Microsoft's products, this menu is failure.

* …

Generally, the entire layout feels a bit like the team that's been responsible for the page for years has been told to 'clone' the newest UI to the best of their abilities.

"In Chrome, the carousel controls at the top right are cut off. Intentional?"

Intentional, it's the same in every other browser. It's similar to Internet Explorer's new back and forward buttons.

Looks pretty awful if it's on purpose.

It was only this morning that my wife said exactly the same thing about it looking like a domain squatting page (while she was trying to find MSE download on their web site).

The web page actually looks ok on my phone. However, putting m.microsoft.com into FF on my laptop just belched xml all over my screen.

The nav links render like crap in Firefox and Chrome. Of course, it looks fine in IE, which sums up a lot of Microsoft's problems.

At the risk of sounding snarky, not all change is good change.

Of course, it's not like Microsoft EVER had a decent or even remotely stylish logo. The bigger concern I would have over the logo is the website, which is amateurish. Honestly, if I did not know this was Microsoft, I would think it was a startup company that paid $50 for a website template, as you stated, and not a very good one.

i think the worst part about their new homepage is the "Welcome to Microsoft" white bare/space at the top, they could, and should have made better use of that space

Not only that but why is "Welcome to Microsoft" an image(png) and not text?

this comment is great. I didn't believe you and clicked through, with your comment still ringing in my mind - I had to laugh. you nailed it.

I... don't hate it. What's wrong with me? It's bold, it's fresh, it does a pretty damn good job of shrugging off the Microsoft of the past 25 years.

I love the whole direction of Microsoft's graphic design these days, and I've had Macs at home exclusively for at least 10 years.

I think Microsoft is doing a great job of trading on the emotional value of colors. Apple rebuilt their company by bringing color to computing (remember the iMac and iBook), but then went away from that in almost every way, sucking the color out of all their products except for a few iPods. It's very sleek and elegant, but let's face it, colors are fun too.

You mean the one that utterly dominated the computer market and made money by the truckload when other companies could barely survive?

Well, at least that's over now.

There's always someone making "truckloads" and someone barely surviving. Every industry, every era.

  > made money by the truckload when other companies
  > could barely survive
The other companies would probably have fared better of Microsoft wasn't dominating the market. This phrasing makes it sound like the market wasn't a zero-sum game.

The market wasn't then, and isn't now, zero-sum.

Microsoft's domination was achieved by making passable-to-excellent browsers in the beginning and putting them on the desktop, which made the web more accessible to millions of people, boosted commerce, and pushed feature development forward much more quickly than Netscape (or any company) would have done absent competition. Bigger market, bigger pie, more investment, more jobs, more consumers.

Netscape died, of course. But it didn't have to be that way; and Microsoft won far more than Netscape lost.

This isn't how I remember the 90s. I remember Microsoft shipping several versions of laughably bad browsers, while their operating system completely dominated the market. They finally shipped a better browser than NS with IE4, but that has just as much to do with shipping a usable product as it does with NS failing to ship a good product.

That said, in those days the web wasn't yet a big deal, and wouldn't be for another couple of years. I don't see how MS "boosted commerce" at all during this timeframe, either. By the time the web became accessible to the multitudes, and was being used for commerce MS already dominated the browser market.

As I recall, IE3 was passable, not laughable. IE4 was better than usable; as much as I clung to my Netscape Communicator 4, it was better than NS's offering.

In fact, another current HN article right now details all that IE4 innovated: http://www.nczonline.net/blog/2012/08/22/the-innovations-of-...

IE3 started Netscape's decline, but it really picked up in the couple years after IE4's release (1998-2000).

All that competition, the proliferation of features, the new ecosystems of dev tools, new jobs as companies saw the Internet taking off with MS's weight behind it, the press about the browser wars, being able to click the desktop "Internet" icon on your new computer and see well-rendered and fast websites... to state that none of that actually grew web usage and that MS just took NS's users 1-for-1 is unbelievable to me.

MS made a better browser and put it in front of everyone's face while simultaneously convincing lots of companies to join the fray. The pie exploded.

  > The market wasn't then, and isn't now, zero-sum.
How many desktop operating systems are normal people going to use? Operating systems don't tend to be complementary (people running multiple OSes and desktop VMs are the exception, not the rule... especially back in the 90s).

That's not what zero-sum implies; you don't have to run two browsers, or two OSes, to refute it.

The marketshare numbers you see are percentages. Say Netscape has 80% of the market of 1M people, and IE4 is popular enough that NS's share dwindles to 30% as IE's rises to 70%. If we're still dealing with 1M total users, the market is zero-sum in that NS's losses are exactly MS's gains.

My contention is that IE4 was so good for its time that it grew the overall internet market; instead of 1M casual users, we have, say, 5M. If NS's marketshare fell from 80% of 1M to 30% of 5M, their user base actually went from 800K to 1.5M. IE4 killed them in share, but helped the overall market and Netscape in particular, by users and revenue.

To assert that it was a zero-sum game is to assert that the market was inelastic relative to the available browsers, which seems ridiculous. Better browsers = more users.

For desktop, probably only one, but who uses "desktop computers" any more?

Now that your phone, your music player, your computer, your notebook, your tablet, your game console(s), your television and your video playback device all need an OS, I'm guessing the number of operating systems people use on a daily basis is higher than you think.

Now? Yes. In the 1990's? Not so much.

Somehow I doubt their logo had much to do with this.

The one with the antitrust lawsuits, yeah.

I don't like it. I like mimimalism but this clean minimal look that's virtually everywhere (as people try to outdo each other in simplicity) is just a fashion. You know already that there is going to be a backlash against this as there always has been in the past (how long did the Bauhaus last?) and then this will be outdated. Also the primary colours are a bit sixties'ish and shortly will look just as dated as anything from that time. Its just the wheel going around with some hailing each revolution as, well, a revolution!

So you're saying that it's a style from the 20s-60s and also a passing fad? :)

If it was minimalism for the sake of minimalism, then maybe. But, minimalism in the case of Windows Phone and 8 serves the purpose of bringing content forward. So, I think it will have lasting appeal.

It's also simple, but still utilitarian in that Microsoft style.

It actually reminds me very much of the Wii logo.

I think it's fine.

It's just that it's... only fine.

It's perfect for Microsoft!

I think you could only shrug the last 25 years off if you changed the word as well.

How is the top menu[1] ok? Grey background with clear blue icons? I would understand with skype because it's not their logo, but even their own blue icons look terrible with that background.

Also, the controls on the carousel[2] are off.

This is not just fanboy hate, but for a company the size of Microsoft, their homepage should matter. These two examples show that they just don't care.

Unrelated to this, I find the metro style interesting for touch devices, but adopting it as the look of the whole company dumbs down their entire product. Also, the font looks to me like a futurist Comic Sans.

[1]: http://i.imgur.com/a9JzT.png

[2]: http://i.imgur.com/rnjJM.png

Just an FYI (and you'll probably hate it more), but the controls(2) are not off. This is part of the new metro sensibility[1].

[1]: http://www.ditii.com/2012/05/22/github-windows-released-supp... (second image down)

Now I know...

Why on earth?

For me... personally, the logo doesn't work.

I am slightly colour blind.

The logo in the article I see just fine, and all of the squares are the same size. And I get it... Metro theme.

The favicon.ico and small logo on Microsoft.com

Those don't fair as well. The red and yellow squares are much larger than the green and blue, and my eyes see a throbbing line around the bottom and left of the red box, and a black line at the bottom of the blue box.

Now... I know that those boxes don't have those lines. For I know what the Metro style guide looks like. But there it is, the logo has not been viewed by anyone colour blind with the ability to have it modified. There should be more space between the boxes when it's shrunk.

The red box is literally 20% wider than the blue to my eyes.

You know how much of the population is colour blind? A very significant chunk.

Also... those colours... very bad choice. When you print this logo (greyscale), all of the colours come out too similar a shade of grey. There is no distinction between them.

The differing lines and popping squares are not because of your color-blindness, someone did an absolutely terrible job resizing the logo images for the website and preparing the favicon.

Also, rounded corners on the favicon? It's ok to give these jobs to an intern but someone still should check the results before pushing them live.

I can take the logo from the homepage, enlarge in gimp, and it's fine to my eyes.

And what with being slightly colour blind, I've learned to suspect that it is probably my vision that is the problem.

They either resized a bitmap image or they rasterized a vector image that wasn't properly aligned, thus some of the squares have some of the borders antialiased and the space between squares appears to be wider between some than others. Also, they are different colors with different lightness levels and that has additional impact on the appearance of different width of the empty space.

This has nothing to do with color-blindness, I can see it, too (I was non-color-blind enough for my driver's licence.)

Actually I just tried to "fix" the favicon in Photoshop and even if I aliase the edges manually it still doesn't look right because of the different brightness levels.

I'm part of that colour-blind chunk, and I don't see anything like what you're seeing. The squares appear to be an uneven size, but what would that have to do with our lack of ability to see colour?

Colour-blindness comes in a great many varieties, and to be honest, if you're making something involving colour, you're going to displease some of them.

Arguably (for this logo) seemingly wrong proportions are worse than too similar looking shades of grey, since no writing or visual metaphors lost are lost when you convert this logo to greyscale.

And I personally believe that this could (and should) have been worked around in some way since about 7-10% of the population has some kind of color blindness.

Your post and the one below make me think I need to go back to my optician. It's probably overdue, but I can't actually look at the smaller version of the logo without it hurting my eyes a little as they strain to stop the red square from throbbing.

I have the same issues; for me the red is much larger than the rest and the yellow one is pulsating. I have it with everything involving rasters and some colors. Actually some patterns make me nauseous (not this one though).

I'm not bothered much by it, but I avoid, while making things, combinations that make this happen.

I don't know if it is because I am slightly color blind (on tests I can usually read maybe 1 of those blotted spots with letters/digits in them; http://www.toledo-bend.com/colorblind/Ishihara.asp => I can only see the top left one, which is the tester if you're not totally blind I think :), the rest is just random spots. People who don't have this issue might think I cannot see colors at all but I can; it's only in combination it might go wrong.), but it's worse when i'm tired.

The best freak show is a big squared 'tent', but with small squares of 2 horrible colors, like red + green/blue in bright power-saving-lights inside, for instance, a shopping mall and me not having had the best night sleep. Then I see these effects really well and actually have to move away from the offending object quite rapidly.

Edit: I mean 'checkered' not squared, so like http://www.schnittmuster-stoffe.de/images/product_images/pop... but then preferably plastic material, bad, bright colors and preferably so big I cannot look around it.

I'm not color blind, but I see the same thing. Shading creates the effect of the boxes being different sizes even though they're not. Here's a screenshot:


Aren't the "popping squares" related to subpixel ordering?

You could try on a different monitor.

I have 2 computers here, both with very good monitors and both displaying the same effect:

1 x NEC MultiSync PA271W monitor

1 x Thinkpad X220 with IPS panel

Perhaps it is a result of the IPS panels in both? The NEC is a high-end monitor though and even with a cheaper IPS panel in the laptop I wouldn't expect to see any flaw that is the result of the monitor in the NEC.

Jokingly: That logo cost them $50 [1]

My real questions are whether there will be a one-color variant, whether the symbol will be allowed to be displayed without the type, and how you could ever secure international trademark on four squares. My guess is that you'd have to be, well, Mircosoft. More than the logo designers, I'm really impressed by the legal team. My trademark lawyers would laugh at me.

[1] http://www.bestlookinglogos.com/2009/07/four-square-logo/

Edit: fixed to read 'international trademark'

Should I make a FourSquare reference?

I'm just amazed that the colours are a rotation of Google's Favicon... Red Green Blue Yellow. (Alright so it's orange, not red.)


Is there any way to get a compressed google search URL that's not a redirect?

Those are the Windows colors. They predate Google.


I wonder why Google chose those colours then? There was a rumour about their first server being made of various colours of lego bricks, but maybe someone put more thought into it...

Because it was designed by Sergey Brin[0], not a pro designer. They even had a Yahoo-esque exclamation mark in the beginning.

[0] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_logo

The full-saturation primary colors, plus green? Because they're obvious.


As far as I know, the only query string that really matters is "q". There's also "tbm", which seems to indicate the type of search to run.

So: https://www.google.com/search?q=google+icon&tbm=isch

Um, ever seen the old Windows logo?

Right, but the old Windows logo has a distinctive shape. Even in black and white, it's distinguishable. Now you could argue that it's just squares that have been warped with a wave and I'd agree with you. However, the important part here is that they've now simplified it further in the direction of even less unique. That makes a trademark even harder to defend. That doesn't mean the shape has to be complicated: I'd argue that Nike's swoosh is extremely simple yet has just enough going on to make it instantly recognizable. The old Windows logo was another decent example.

Both MS and Google colors come from children's blocks, to convey ease of use.

I was thinking logo may be more appropriate to FourSquare as well.

Square being the operative word.

Copyright isn't the issue; trademark is.

Interesting... I've never seen this before: http://i.imgur.com/Ag3fl.jpg

Edit: found better res

I did vote for that one, but I am listening to 80s metal right now - that may have influenced me.

I voted for that one too! Never seen it; spitting image of MegaDeth or Metallica! Haha

hell yeah. I'm even tempted to cut out the logo itself from the jpg and use it as a desktop background. Hard to imagine a company now so huge ever used a logo so dark that screams metal all over the place

Ha, I saw that one and immediately thought Iron Maiden: http://images.wikia.com/logopedia/images/6/69/Iron_maiden_lo...

Very heavy metal!

You know the greatest lesson I learned from the tv show The Wire? When your brand lacks credibility you make a change to the brand.[1][2] Good move by Microsoft.

On other hand, I'm still trying to grok why Twitter changed it's logo recently[3]? Was something inherently being tarnished about the Twitter brand? As far as I know, the answer is NO.

I'm going to make a major assumption here, but I think it had to do with it being driven by a Creative Director and not by a Marketing (i.e. Business) person. The blog post and title at least reads that way.

[1]- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Undertow_(The_Wire)#Barksdale_t...

[2]- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbbZc2pab9k

[3]- http://blog.twitter.com/2012/06/taking-flight-twitterbird.ht...

Microsoft isn't changing their brand, they're updating their brand. It's something virtually every company does from time to time, and it's not a sign of the apocalypse. Microsoft isn't escaping any of their past with this change, they're still very recognizable as the same company as before.

Your assumptions about the reason for updating a brand are even wronger in the case of Twitter. They didn't update their brand because it was weak, quite the opposite. The twitter brand is currently so strong, it afforded them the unique opportunity to drop the words from their trademark and use just an icon. Twitter's rebranding was them stepping up to an exclusive club of the worlds most highly recognizable brands.

> Microsoft isn't changing their brand, they're updating their brand.


> it's not a sign of the apocalypse.

I'm sorry if I implied it's a sign of the apocalypse. I didn't mean it that way. The point is Microsoft has suffered greatly due to the massive success of Apple. This is no news to anyone. They're not going to die anytime soon, but they have a MASSIVE threat. The Wire's portrayal of the character's brand and that of Worldcom, are not a 1:1 match, I agree, but the theory is the same.

My point was to draw the real reasoning behind branding and why companies shift and update brands. I've personally been trapped in this before, and thought "God that logo looks like shit! That company, or my company, should change it! They would do so much better if they did!" Branding/Logo is about associations of an image with the company and its values. When the values of the company deteriorate, lack credibility, etc, than the association of the logo starts portraying those negative values (or lack thereof).

For example: How many people here think Google should change it's logo? The logo itself lacks any sort of design principles and very clearly was created by a techie with lack of graphic design. So why on earth hasn't Google changed it?

> Your assumptions about the reason for updating a brand are even wronger in the case of Twitter.Twitter's rebranding was them stepping up to an exclusive club of the worlds most highly recognizable brands.

I apologize, I wasn't aware that the logo before explicitly included the name. Regardless...

> Twitter's rebranding was them stepping up to an exclusive club of the worlds most highly recognizable brands.

8 of the top 10 brands in the world have their name in their logo...[1] What exclusive club are you talking about?

[1] - http://images.businessweek.com/ss/06/07/top_brands/source/1....

>How many people here think Google should change it's logo? The logo itself lacks any sort of design principles and very clearly was created by a techie with lack of graphic design. So why on earth hasn't Google changed it?

They have changed it. They subtly update it every couple years to keep the shading and the bevel in line with current trends.

In any case, you're either missing my point, or you're missing the point of the scene in the wire. That was about a brand escaping their old image. Microsoft isn't doing that. They're embracing their old image, celebrating their old brand, and remaining recognizable as who they were before, even though they had the new logo. That's pretty much the exact opposite of what worldcom and the barksdale crew were trying to do. If they wanted to escape their old image, now would be a perfect time to do it, with their most different products ever, but they are sticking by both the windows and the Microsoft brands.

> They subtly update it every couple years to keep the shading and the bevel in line with current trends.

Apparently not. They changed it once in 1999 (after its original in 1998) and again in 2010.[1]

"The logo was the foundation for new icons and hundreds of tiny alterations designed to accommodate and seamlessly integrate the expanded functionality of the left-hand panel."[2]

So they had a legitimate design reason for changing the logo, not based solely on the brand...

[1] - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_logo

[2] - http://googleblog.blogspot.ro/2010/05/google-design-turned-u...

and your link to the top 10 brands only shows coke for me, but here's what i'm thinking of: golden arches, chevy bow tie, nike swoosh, apple logo, playboy bunny, wikipedia crossed W.

Apparently you didn't scroll through.

1. Coke (name only, stylized)

2. Microsoft (name only, but recently changed)

3. IBM (name only, slightly stylized)

4. GE (name in a circle)

5. Intel (name with a swoosh)

6. Nokia (name only)

7. Toyota (no text regularly)

8. Disney (name, highly stylized)

9. McDonalds (normally has name in logo)

10. Mercedez-Benz (no text regularly)

So, Toyota and Mercedez-Benz I discounted.

Google changed their favicon a week and a half ago. That's about as visible as the main logo.

I think of Twitter's logo change as the time they turned from "openish tool for loosely connecting millions" to "closed tool for broadcasting to millions". I wonder if that was intentional.

So when Apple change their name from Apple Computers it was because they lacked credibility? No, of course not. But because it's Microsoft everyone throws this nonsense around.

Rebranding is something that all companies do at varying times their lives. When you haven't done it in 25 years... yeah, it's probably time for a refresh. Trends change.

You really think a business person with real money on the line makes a dramatic change like this based on the notion of "When you haven't done it in 25 years... yeah, it's probably time for a refresh. Trends change."

That would be mind baffling...

No, but I think that a business person with real money they spend on market research that says "people perceive the logo as old and out of fashion" might decide it was time for a refresh.

> people perceive the logo as old and out of fashion

So, I think we both agree, the original logo lacks the previous associations of value and therefore needed to be changed/updated. People don't buy things because of a lack of newness or because they are deemed old. They buy based on utility (whether that's perceived or not is another question).

You do realize that most major companies have undergone brand/logo refreshments at some point? Infact its much more difficult to pick out a popular company that hasn't redesigned their logo/brand since it birth. If you think that signals the demise of a company then you should visit thefacebook.com sometime.

How does Microsoft lack credibility?

I'm assuming I don't have to explain to you the sentiment over Microsoft's product base (consumer mainly) in the past 5-10 years in comparison to it's biggest competitor, Apple, right?

Apple is a single, targeted competitor to a fraction of Microsoft's business.

The XBox 360 is a great console, MS hardware is still top notch, Office is still Office and Exchange is still Exchange. Windows 7 has been widely well received, and IE 10 is on track to be the most compliant browser in the IE line.

Half (or more) of Microsoft's business, and far more of their profit, is two product lines: Windows, and Office.

They're also synergystically linked: if you're running on Windows, you're far more likely to want/need Office, and if you're using Office, you're far more likely to want Windows.

Crack either side of that diptych, and you've vastly undermined the business. Apple is attacking both. The OS through both its laptop and desktop (yes, you can still buy desktop Macs) offerings, but increasingly, mobile (iPhone, iPad, even iPod). Apple iWork is a competitor to Office, and some products (notably Keynote) are vastly superior to the Microsoft offerings.

Apple's not the only competition, of course. Google appear primed to take on more of the space as well (Google Apps, Android). And there's even Linux on the desktop. One of these years.

How many of those things owe their success to goodwill people have to the Microsoft brand?

Do people buy MacBooks out of goodwill to Apple, or because they're kickass hardware?

I'd actually assert a portion of people buy Apple products out of goodwill to Apple. This should not be taken as a compliment, though.

So you're suggesting some purchasers of Apple products are vapid enough (and monied enough) to buy them out of "goodwill" towards Apple? It's possible, of course an alternative is that you haven't a clue what you are talking about. I know which way I'd bet.

Ah, but that is one alternative! Now you'll have to excuse me, I'm off to buy a new MBP with the specs of the standard PC laptops of a few years ago for double the price, acting as a rational consumer.

I do not thing that buying something because you think it has a good brand (or you have goodwill towards the brand, however you want to phrase it), makes you vapid.

High end consumer products like Apple hardware most certainly have a certain fashion aspect which is important to remember when you considering why people make the purchase decisions that they do.

While that may be something that you do not value when purchasing hardware and gadgets (I know I do not value it highly at all either), there is certainly nothing fundamentally wrong with those that think otherwise.

Those are wholly related. Were the quality of Apple's hardware or software to decline my goodwill towards them would take an immediate drop. The one and only reason that I use their things because I find those things, and the support behind them, to be the highest quality.

I am not sure how that is relevant to be honest. Are you saying that there brand doesn't matter, or that it is healthy because their products have found success due to technical achievements?

Credibility's not the issue. Stagnation is.

Microsoft should sue the Seattle Times for desecrating their beautiful logo with compression artifacts.

edit: I retract that, Microsoft is doing the very same thing:


Same with the Windows 8 logo. Without the artifacts it would look so much better.


>Ironically, Windows 8's new logo is now single-colored.

While I don't enjoy the perspective on the Windows 8 logo, I at least respect the single color. As usual, it doesn't seem like the right hand is talking to the left hand. I actually like the previous logo. It feels like it has some character and I'm not surprised it lasted 25 years. This new logo feels so damn generic, like a generic brand you would pick up at the grocery store...

* Compare to the active ingredients in Apple.

I wonder if that independent Microsoft re-design seen on HN a few weeks ago - http://www.minimallyminimal.com/journal/2012/7/3/the-next-mi... - had anything to do with this.

I doubt it, this was probably in the works for much longer than a couple of weeks.

That said, I like the minimally minimal redesign much better.

Many commenters here are predictably unable to look at this as the business decision it is.

What people don't seem to understand is that the price of a logo is not based on how it looks. Aesthetics have nothing to do with this. It's based on how much the ability to make sure that the entire system is implemented properly is worth to MS.

This is not a question about whether the logo "works for you".

It's a question of whether it works for everybody, and unless somente here wants to do free research, we can only extrapolate from our on perceptions.

No it's not a question of whether it works for everybody. The world is filled with successful companies with ugly logos.

The purpose of the logo is not to look pretty but to identify.

That's the definition of working in this context: fulfilling it's purpose as a logo.

Looks more like a new version of Windows logo to me.

It's interesting they would make a point of incorporating the old Windows logo. Microsoft is a company trying to reinvent itself, and the industry consensus is that Windows has an uncertain future at best. It has failed completely in the phone and tablet markets that would seem to be the future of consumer computing. So is this a statement of defiance or a company in denial?

i think Microsoft hasn't even gotten started in the phone and tablet markets yet. thats coming soon. should be interesting.

I assume it's intentional. Isn't OSX full of apples here and there?

No, not really. But this is more an example of a product brand becoming the company brand, not the other way around. Apple is a rather poor example of this, as they are quite careful with their brand (for instance, changing the "Apple key" to the "command key" back in the day so as to not "abuse" the brand).

Sun changing their stock symbol to JAVA would be a better example.

But Apple isn't full of OSX logos. It seems weird that the windows association needs to stay in their primary mark.

It usually one in the top left corner, just as it always has.

That's an Apple logo, not on OS X logo. OS X logo is the giant X, which you only see on OS X marketing material, not on iPods.

Ah, in that case it shows up in the About screen and that's about it, huh?

They should go back to that Metallica logo they had in 1980.

Nothing says corporate dominance like thrash metal font.

Interesting that as soon as they dump the old Windows logo, they just start using it as the company logo, minus the swoops.

That said, however, I like it. I'm a big fan of color, and, while not a big fan of Windows, I've always liked its logo. In fact, while I probably won't ever install or use it extensively, I've really been liking the bold, primary color design of Windows 8.

My first thought wasn't Windows, it's Live Tiles. It seems to have the allusion of Windows (the past) and "the design style formerly known as Metro" (the future).

All in all, a big improvement!

Only one thing: I can't believe it doesn't render properly in mobile safari on MS home page! Bottom line gets clipped...

They should go the "Prince" route. They should just adopt the 4 square logo as the official name for "The design style formerly known as Metro".


I can see the anti-Apple mentality of this.

Apple icons are glossy this is flat. The icons on an iPad/iPod are small glossy "chicklets" but on Win8 they are flat and large tiles; no black space.

I like the look and the design it's a nice change, as for the inner workings of the OS I have no idea since I only used it briefly in a (non-touchscreen) VM.

Different to Apple != anti-Apple

I think it is a tremendous disservice to the amount of work that went into the Metro (or whatever it's called now) interface to describe it as an anti-Apple reaction. It isn't, and not everyone in the tech world bases their entire business around what Apple is or is not doing. It wasn't created to spite the memory of Steve Jobs.

I'd say different is anti-Apple when you're Microsoft and Apple is your primary competitor your goal is to gain customers, being the same doesn't make sense since it already exists.

A great quote I heard once (not sure who) to paraphrase: Trying to be as good as your competition just makes you equals. To be better you have to exceed beyond what is being done.

Yes, it certainly wasn't created to spite Steve Jobs, because Metro shipped with Windows Phones in November 2010, just under a year before he died.

Everyone is pretty different visually from apple. Apple is stuck in 2003 with skeuomorphism, glossy buttons, faux wood. They and KDE would get along together great.

Versus Holo in Android, the beauty of Metro or whatever it's called, even GNOME3 and Elementary OS are embracing a minimal, flat-ish design

The 1975-1979 logo is neat. I actually really like it. The new one is so boring.

The 1980-81 looks like Gates and Balmer were trying to start a Metal band.

Their first song: "Developers".

Anybody notice this is basically the AVG logo with the colors flipped around?

See: http://www.avg.com/us-en/homepage

No, but now I see that the AVG logo has always been the windows icon, but with the colors flipped around.

While the new logo is OK what I found intriguing is that for the first time Windows is associated with the corporate image. Isn't that betting the whole company on a single product?

Not that is not true since a decade ago but it might reduce the chances in the future to make a turn around. Apple did remove "Computer" from his name to make space to iOS devices and to me Microsoft is doing the opposite... let's see how it goes, at least they are working hard to refresh their selves and that's good for the industry.

I still don't get why Microsoft is pushing Metro SO HARD to bet everything on it when nobody really likes it that much.

Zune (where I saw it for the first time) failed in the market. Windows Mobile (that has the Metro theme) failed in the market. Now I don't know XBox (at all) and its GUI, but its success happened long before Metro was created.

People don't seem to like it in the new Windows preview all that much, either.

Why the big bet on Metro?

>I still don't get why Microsoft is pushing Metro SO HARD to bet everything on it when nobody really likes it that much.

I personally love Metro, and I'm not the only one in my circle of friends. I accept that not everyone likes it, but I really prefer a text driven design like Metro.

Similarly the Ribbon. The Ribbon was supposed to make Office easier to use. It was so incomprehensible (not to mention annoying and wasteful of screen real estate), Microsoft created a GAME to explain to users how to use the Ribbon. (How bad a UI fail is that?) Still no-one likes it, so they shoehorn it into more places.

I think Microsoft gets that Apple doesn't allow itself to be driven by focus groups, but instead they allow random insane people to drive them.

Well, to be completely fair MS Labs made it, not the office team, and there is no indication that they made it because it was so hard to use. If that was the case surely then Office would actually ship with Ribbon Hero, instead of having it as an unmaintained experiment you can download from their website if you happen to have heard of it?

IIRC, it was an experiment in gameification and Office and the ribbon was the thing that was new at the time, and it made sense to write it on top of teaching users the new UI.

While we're throwing around anecdotes on how incomprehensible ribbon is, I know plenty of people who are totally fine with it. I don't really use any MS products (and so never encounter it) and don't have an opinion on it, but I think phrases like "no-one likes it, so they shoehorn it into more places" are neither true nor even potentially valid (no one likes it so they use it more because... they're evil? They want you to hate them?)

The fact there's a Ribbon Hero 2 with what looks like pretty solid marketing behind it would seem to undermine your take. (No, I didn't know it existed either, but I don't think it was is a lab demo any more.)

i like the ribbon. it doesn't make access to anything harder - i couldn't find whatever i was looking for in pre-2007 office and i can't find anything now, but at least the icons are prettier. that's a net win for me.

If it didn't waste so much (precious) vertical real estate I would be inclined to agree.

Double click on the tab at the top. It auto-hides the ribbon and you get most of your real estate back.

no one liked the ribbon? data point here: i liked it. i think its very logically arranged and straightforward to use. i could never understand the frothing hate for it. because it has clear categories, and a nice visual layout of buttons and functions? because it doesnt have enough cluttered text menus?

Microsoft created a GAME to explain to users how to use the Ribbon

Haha man what losers. That'd be like using solitaire and minesweeper to teach the mouse.

I think MSFT is starting to get a little obsessed with the boxes - excuse me "tiles". I went to the store opening today in Boston, and I was pretty impressed. Very clean, bright, lots of screens.. made the Apple store across the street seem very conservative. We'll see if it ends up being a hit, but it is definitely standing alone as it's own unique store experience.

Is it just me or does the laptop in this (stock?) banner photo on their homepage look like a Macbook? (With the Apple logo photoshopped off.)


Can someone explain me why do they have that strange blue windows logo at the bottom of the page?

http://i.microsoft.com/global/ImageStore/PublishingImages/lo... http://res1.windows.microsoft.com/resbox/en/Windows%207/main...

I mean, it's not the current Windows 8 logo, nor the Windows 7 logo. It's a merge of both worlds: Old logo with Win8 colors.

Are they planning to change it in the very last second? (I don't think so) Or do they want to make a slow transition between the old and the new Windows logo?

Or... probably, according to Occam's razor, someone just failed to put the right logo there.

The article starts of by saying that a lot is at stake when a company rolls out a new logo. I'd like to point out the Microsoft has, either intentionally or unintentionally, been piloting this logo-style in their products for the past few years, which is ostensibly a lower-risk proposition. Rolling out their parent brand logo to conform to this arguably successful re-branding that their individual software products have underwent over the past three or so years seems like a reasonably sound decision. Furthermore, if Microsoft has intentionally been piloting this new brand on parts of their business that are subordinate to the brand as a whole, then I'd have to say bravo for likely reducing a huge business risk in the making of a relatively permanent, long-term decision.

[The logo] is intended to "signal the heritage but also signal the future — a newness and freshness".

Does every marketing exec have to say that about their new logo? Must be the same effect as sports players saying "We just gave it 110%" when they win.

As much as I just loathe saying "I told you so," I direct your attention to this prediction 55 days ago: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4174622

The logotype would have been better alone. The symbol should have been the Windows 8 symbol. It makes me think that they used two teams and they didn't communicate during the process. Overall I like it, is refreshing.

Personally, I'm a big fan of their short-lived 1980-1981 logo. I realize it has no place among today's clean, "Metro" look, but I love Metal and this just speaks to me. :)

It's not just metal. It's full of "tech" and "science" and "future" and "enthusiasm" and even "fun".

Re-adopting the 1980-1981 logo would send a signal that I would love to hear. That Microsoft is rebooting Microsoft and that things are going to be new and fun again.

I totally agree. Honestly MS really needs this sort of overhaul if they want to remain competitive down the road. They still have a pretty good hold on enterprise IT (slipping with the cloud) but I personally think they are in a bad position in just about every other market.

Though I've never had much love for Redmond despite using their products for 20+ years, since they feel like an underdog now I instinctively want to cheer for them. But, like someone said in another post, they sure make it difficult.

I prefer the windows 8 logo much more: http://www.fastcodesign.com/multisite_files/codesign/imageca...

The unsolicited redesign "slate" logo is cool too: http://www.minimallyminimal.com/2012/7/3/the-next-microsoft....

Does your TV need a "user-interface"?

Does your secretary need a touchscreen?

MS's last remaining market is business. As others bring to business the old power of UNIX, for less cost, and repackaged with now commonplace buzzwords like "opensource", "linux", and "cloud", MS is in big trouble. For most of the business world, software is an expense, not an asset. Inexpensive wins.

But those guys who could say "FU" in 1992, why should they care? MS has had a GREAT run.

I'd have preferred a thinner, longer variation of the font like they had in their win8 demos or Zune menus. This one looks a bit short and stocky imho.

Interesting that 3 of the squares represent Windows, Office, XBox. I'm guessing the 4th square will represent Surface once it de-vaporizes?


"The new logo, which incorporates a multicolored Windows symbol in addition to the "Microsoft" name in straightforward, lighter type, is intended to "signal the heritage but also signal the future — a newness and freshness," said Jeff Hansen, Microsoft's general manager of brand strategy."

Freshness? The most underwhelming design "innovation" yet... Playing it safe, boring, square as ever.

The Google+ button (right towards top) in this article about Microsoft's new logo is totally spoiling it for them.


Bahahahaha, it's pretty much the old telecom New Zealand logo [1] . that makes me laugh. a lot

[1] http://www.underconsideration.com/brandnew/archives/telecom_... - the one on the left.

Did they hire the same designer that created the game "Simon Says"? Even the colors are the same.

Image: http://www.digitalrendezvous.net/wordpress/wp-content/upload...

You mean simply 'Simon.' The Chrome logo has been called into question about it's similarity in the past. Weirdly I now associate those primary colours with Google rather than M$.

Reminds me of Philip Morris' rebranding (http://taxtrials.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/altria_logo1...)

Problem is, I'm pretty sure "Altria" was trying to be generic and forgettable.

It seems to be the common theme among all giant multinationals -- they're trying to soften their image by using pastel colors, rounded, clean fonts, minimalist shapes.

See also: BP, Walmart

They started using the new wordmark in June, in the Surface promo materials: http://photos.allthingsd.com/photos/i-vGmfLVB/0/M/i-vGmfLVB-...

I guess this is the official launch.

"is expected to unveil its new, more colorful logo"

Picture of logo already available in the article.

It seems it is NOT the first logo change since 1987. Some previous logos are displayed here : http://facts.swebee.com/microsoft-logo.html

I wonder why they didn't choose this logo (colorful tiles) for Windows.

At the top left corner, I think the text "menu" should be replaced with "Start" and dropdown icon should be replaced with the icon found on windows start button (the MS logo)

Actually quite impressed. Not because of the logo's quality, since it's not that a radical change, but because Microsoft finally got the guts to make a change.

It's nice to see Microsoft putting some effort into design. The logo doesn't take my breath away or anything, but I think it's an improvement on the old one.

Good change!! the new logo is simple and direct the point.

I like how from 1980 to 1981 it was not Microsoft but really a front for Metallica to make it's big step in disrupting the corporate technology industry.

Interesting. Is it just me or does their new logo seem to suggest that Microsoft has given up on trying to be anything other than Windows?

It seems odd that they chose to post the logo as a jpeg. The compression artifacts stop it from appearing as crisp as it should be.

Something I noticed: beside the M, the rest of the font is very similar to the font Myriad (the font used by Apple in their logo).

I believe it's Segoe, which Microsoft owns and has been using everywhere lately.

So basically, Segoe is to Myriad as Arial is to Helvetica.

Got it.

It's more like they're both similar to Frutiger. And Myriad is barely 2 years older than Segoe, and it was developed by Agfa not MS, so it's not likely that it was copied. While Arial was kind of a crappy font, MS's new stuff (Consolas, Calibri etc.) has been pretty nice.

They're all Humanist fonts so there's a fair amount of family resemblance. So take the school of thought that finds Helvetica boring and corporate and apply to the new Segoe-based Microsoft logo. One thing I find interesting is that there was some legal brouhaha over Segoe a few years ago which appears to be all resolved but still makes it a little surprising to me that they'd go so all-in in such a visible context.

The four boxes don't bother me, but the segoe font is way too plain. I guess they use that font on everything, though.

Their choice to use their own Segoe typeface is what will make this a less-pleasing logo than it could have been.

Segoe looks good in its intended use for text on screen, and printed text at small and normal sizes, but Segoe does not look good at very large sizes.

When this logo appears on billboards, and in other large display settings, its weaknesses will become apparent.

Really not bad looking. Amazing what you can do with MSPaint these days.

The colours remind me just a little bit of Google..

Because Google uses the same primary colors that MS Windows used.

Italics in logos may well be offically out!

This logo just screams "compromise".

Are those the Google colors?

Wow, microsoft.com looks like shit on iOS with a Retina display. Couldn't be bothered?

shuffling the deck chairs...

On the homepage at microsoft.com, they are using the same logo for Microsoft Store as the company name.

Very ubuntish.

The logo from the 70's is so disco.

What the hell is this? Are they trying to take the Gap approach and turn out a turd so terrible that designers storm the campus and flood them with better logos?

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