In the blog, Moreau explains the evolution of the various Windows logos. Starting right from Windows 1.0, he explains how the logo has become more sophisticated and powerful with each successive Windows release, with the pinnacle being the Vista Orb logo, which really gets over how powerful PCs have become, with its subtle colouring, shading and Aero glass effects. It really does have the 'wow' look, even today. In hindsight, it's a real shame that Vista was half-baked at launch and bombed so badly, since the attractive and sophisticated Windows look that it brought us was a real innovation and would likely have continued to this day. Comparing the look of Vista to 7, the latter arguably did away with the elegant wow look for a flatter, more boring look. Of course, what's under the bonnet works much better though, so skinning 7 with the Vista look gives you the best of both worlds. The graphic below compares the new Windows 8 logo with its predecessors, all the way back to Windows 1.0.
Here is the sophisticated Vista Orb logo in high resolution:
Which do you prefer?
With Windows 8 however, Microsoft is going for the iPad / tablet look and feel for its flagship operating system, with the Metro interface, which replaces the Start button / Windows Orb. In this mode, applications open full screen only and are single tasking, with non-foreground apps entering a suspended state. If this sounds scarily like harking back to the old says of 1980's DOS with a graphical interface bolted on, you're right and one wonders what Microsoft is thinking to make Windows work in this way. It appears to be attempting to emulate the inordinately successful Apple iPad, which works in a roughly similar way. This is why it's bad when poor products become wildly successful: competitors copy them and we all get mediocre products as a result. Thankyou Steve Jobs.
Using this application suspension system, one can imagine the scenario of listening to some music, then browsing the internet and the music stops, then going back to the music program, doing both tasks separately. Doing both at once like you can now? Impossible. How the hell is this progress?! Yes, one can switch to the current desktop for now and run standard desktop apps, but the Start menu is still missing and one must launch everything from the Metro interface, constantly switching uncomfortably between the two interfaces. If this is the direction that Microsoft wants to take Windows, then we must question just how long we will even have access to the current desktop? Windows 7 might just stick around as long as XP has…
Well, given this new direction for Windows, Microsoft wanted to create a new Windows logo to go with it. Enter famous graphic design house, Pentagram, to help them create that logo. In a meeting early in the development cycle for Windows 8, one of the members Paula Scher asked a very simple question:
"Your name is Windows. Why are you a flag?"
It's a good question. It seems to have happened in the transition from Windows 3 to Windows 98, as a sort of window/flag hybrid. Still, it looks attractive and everyone recognizes and accepts it. Well, the design teams put their heads together to create a logo to go with Metro and came up with the new simple-looking Windows 8 logo that you see above (with its single happy blue colour). We have to say that it does agree with the new Metro look and ethos: dumbed down and simplistic for the user who has no idea how to use a computer and take advantage of the power that a modern computer offers. Along with Metro, it frankly looks like a retrograde step for Microsoft to take.
Here is Moreau's take on why this new style was chosen:
"But if you look back to the origins of the logo you see that it really was meant to be a window. "Windows" really is a beautiful metaphor for computing and with the new logo we wanted to celebrate the idea of a window, in perspective. Microsoft and Windows are all about putting technology in people's hands to empower them to find their own perspectives. And that is what the new logo was meant to be. We did less of a re-design and more to return it to its original meaning and bringing Windows back to its roots – reimagining the Windows logo as just that – a window."
So, people are now 'empowered' to find their own 'perspectives', are they? Sounds like mere marketing speak, than anything useful and relevant.
We await the next public preview of Windows 8 on February 29th to see what Microsoft has done with Metro, the current desktop and Windows 8 in general.
Click here to view the article