Windows 8: how the Windows logo has changed
It's not just the software that's had a makeover in Windows 8 - Microsoft have also come up with a new version of the classic Windows logo.
It's a modern reimagining of the iconic logo. Back in February 2012, Sam Moreau on the "Blogging Windows" blog wrote a post explaining how the evolution of the logo came about.
Microsoft worked with Pentagram - the world's largest independent design consultancy - to produce the new logo. Some of Pentagram's illustrious clients include Tiffany & Co, Nike, Swatch and Boots, and they have also spearheaded the redesigns of Time magazine and Cosmopolitan.
It's a window... not a flag
As a means of an introduction, Moreau stated: "'Windows' really is a beautiful metaphor for computing and with the new logo we wanted to celebrate the idea of a window, in perspective."
If we look back to the very first Windows logo (Windows 1.0) it shares more in common with the new logo than the waving flag that followed immediately after.
The original Windows 1.0 logo
When Pentagram and Microsoft first met to discuss the new direction, Pentagram's Paula Scher posed the following question: "Your name is Windows. Why are you a flag?."
The flag logo represented many future versions of the operating system.
The new identity returns the logo to its roots. The name Windows was originally introduced as a metaphor for seeing into screens and systems and a new view on technology. The new identity reintroduces this idea with the actual visual principles of perspective. It also reflects the new Windows 8 design language developed by Microsoft for its products, graphics and user interfaces.
In order for the design to move forward, the team had to first look back and consider the Windows brand history.
Here are some of the insights from the design process:
The Windows logo became a natural place to demonstrate the graphic capabilities of each new version of Windows. Starting with Windows 3.1 we see more than one colour for the first time, this represented the CGA (Color Graphics Adapter) that displayed a maximum of 16 colours.
What's more it was these four colours that would become synonymous with the Windows brand. For many of us this is the image in our mind when we think of past Windows logos.
This logo would be the basis for all Windows logos throughout the 1990s.
[Left] The Windows XP logo complete with 3D gradient effect. [Right] The Windows logo used for Vista and Windows 7.
Starting with Windows XP the flag began to take on a more material look and introduced a 3D effect with a gradient. This cleaner, more sophisticated design became known as the "Windows flag".
AERO glass as seen in Windows 7.
The subsequent logo for Windows Vista went one step further, the flag evolved into a kind of dimensional button or "pearl". Windows Vista marked the beginning of the AERO design aesthetic in Windows, with a key component of the interface being the "AERO glass" effect.
This logo remained largely unchanged for Windows 7 (whereas under the hood everybody realised that Windows 7 was an entirely different kind of beast.)
Below are some words on the design philisophy Microsoft and Pentagram applied to the new Windows logo. For more information, visit Pentagram's website.
Evolution of the Windows logo as seen on pentagram.com
Evolution of a logo
When you look at the new logo you will notice the slight tilt in perspective, also note when you change your color, the logo changes to reflect you. The new logo reflects the sleek, modern "Metro" design language first introduced by Microsoft on Windows Phone.
The perspective drawing is based on classical perspective drawing, not computerized perspective. The cross bar stays the same size no matter the height of the logo, which means it has to be redrawn for each time it increases in size, like classic typography.
The perspective analogy is apt because the whole point of Microsoft products is that they are tools for someone to achieve their goals from their own perspective. The window here is a neutral tool for a user to achieve whatever they can, based on their own initiative.
The logo design is deliberately neutral so that it can function effectively in a myriad of uses, especially motion. The old logo was flat and drawn in motion; the new logo is a neutral container that can convey actual motion, becoming a more active and effective brand.