Back in February we reported on the new Windows 8 logo designed by Pentagram partner Paula Scher — a release that got its thunder stolen by the leaking of the logo (not by us) ahead of time (not our fault). Officially, the Windows 8 logo is this and eight months after it was “unveiled,” the actual software behind the new, non-flag-anymore-logo was launched this past Friday to much hoopla around the world. See launch video later in this post. As part of the OS re-launch, which is a major departure from past Windowses, Microsoft is taking this opportunity to kickstart its new branding — after all, Windows is only the most used operating system in the world, so a lot of people are paying attention. The branding effort which now covers Windows but will spread into other Microsoft products has been lead by Wolff Olins, who describe their role to be “to curate all of the components and contributions into one clear, creative brand experience for consumers.” In the case of Windows these contributions include new packaging with structural construction by IDEO, illustrations conceived in collaboration with and created by Colors and The Kids, and brand imagery and video by Todd Selby.
More than my typical introduction that establishes who and what the company, organization, product, or service is because we all pretty much know who and what Microsoft is — those who don’t please step off the internet — we can pick up right in 2012 where Microsoft has almost completed a, if not
360 180, at the very least 27090-degree shift of both the quality of its hardware and software and the way it visually presents itself. This year has seen a full immersion into Microsoft’s now publicly catchy Metro design philosophy that favors flat colors, light sans serif usage, and user interface elements on a grid — an approach that is hard to be in disagreement with as it saves us from the 1980s, 90s, and early 00s Microsoft design philosophy which never get an official name, but let’s just call it Hideous. With the upcoming launch of a new Windows operating system as well as a completely revamped Office and on the heels of what has arguably been their sexiest product launch ever with its Surface tablet, Microsoft made its biggest move yesterday, with the introduction of the new logo, to transform its identity and its perception among consumers. The new logo was designed internally but is reflective of the involvement of outside consultancies that have been helping Microsoft reshape many of its brand touchpoints.
In between classes and executed in just three days as a side project, Andrew Kim, a student at Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, CA, has designed an alternate identity for Microsoft. The project has already gotten some generous airplay since it was posted this past Tuesday and with good reason: it’s not that the overall execution and concept are out of this world — they are both pretty good but start to come apart the deeper Andrew got into applications — it’s the attitude and approach that makes it stand out. In three days Andrew has made what Microsoft has yet to achieve: to feel and look cool, to act like the big, otherworldly-sized company it is. Included in this post are a few images to get you started but definitely pay a visit to the full project.
Gearing for its latest OS release — after a couple of lackluster and user panned versions in Windows Vista and Windows XP (and continued mockery from OS X users) — Microsoft has been slowly releasing previews and developer versions of Windows 8, a complete rethinking of one of the most frightening computer-using experiences. Based on Microsoft’s “Metro” design language, Windows 8 adopts the user interface currently in play on the Windows Phone OS. By the end of February, Microsoft will release a consumer preview (don’t call it Beta) of Windows 8 and its new logo was recently spotted. Update: This post has been revised with design credit to Pentagram partner Paula Scher and text from Sam Moreau, Principal Director of User Experience for Windows; scroll to the bottom.
Like a square peg in a round hole that has been forcefully and successfully been pushed through, Microsoft’s Office for Mac suite of productivity tools has been living in Mac users’ desktops since the late 1980s and has gradually become less annoying to use with the 2004 and 2008 versions making substantial effort to play nicely. The latest Office for Mac version is the 2011 suite and it comes with a fresh coat of paint to the user interface, the application icons and the packaging. The latter two of Brand New’s interest, designed by frog.
A long time ago, like, totally, in the 1990s the de facto browsers were Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) and Netscape, the equivalent of today’s Safari and Firefox. The latter in both cases had more geek cred, while the former had better looks. Back in those days I always chose IE, mostly because the broken image icon of Netscape was far more scary. At the turn of the century as browser competition increased, IE’s stronghold on the market dipped deeper than the Titanic and has become not just a source of frustration for programmers who need to concoct hacks to make things work specifically for IE, but it’s also a sad punchline. They even managed to completely alienate the growing Mac population by discontinuing development for that platform in 2003. Microsoft is hoping that IE9 and its commitment to CSS3, Web Open Font Format and HTML5 will bring back some glory when it is released sometime in 2011; it is currently in beta testing. As an aside: According to our stats, 10% of our readers are on IE, and 1% of that 10% is beta testing IE9. All the images in this post have been pulled from a comprehensive blog post at IE Blog.