Say the words “Windows 8” to a typical computer enthusiast and they’ll likely find something to complain about.
Criticisms of the latest incarnation of Microsoft’s Windows operating system seem never-ending – so much so, that Microsoft itself hastaken to the airwaves to ensure future Windows users that, no, the company has not gone crazy with some of its design decisions.
Even the Windows logo itself hasn’t escaped Microsoft’s need for change. As expected, critics have weighed in on Microsoft’s decision to adopt a more Metro-themed design for the Windows 8 logo instead of the traditional four-color, curvy boxes found in previous Windows logos.
Here’s what they’re saying:
“It’s hard for me to see how this is a great leap forward in design from the Windows 1.0 logo,” writes Forbes’ E.D. Kain. “I realize that this is all very much a matter of taste, but to me the blue window panel in the original is more eye-catching than the tilted blue panel in the Windows 8 version.”
Worse, suggests Kain, Microsoft’s new logo is eerily reminiscent of what you might get if you were to fire up PhotoShop, drag in a picture of the Finnish or Shetland Islands’ flag, and invert the colors.
“I think it’s very appropriate to have 4 Blue Screens of Death coming right toward you. Pretty much captures my Windows experience, anyway,” a commenter later added to Kain’s observations.
VentureBeat’s Sean Ludwig, commenting that the revamping of Microsoft’s Windows logo is the company’s “Gap” moment, found it fitting that the Windows 8 logo’s new appearance looks as if it was created in another iconic Microsoft product: MS Paint.
“It’s a simple one-color logo that emphasizes Windows 8′s simple design, but it’s so bland that it doesn’t convey anything important about the new OS,” Ludwig writes.
ZDNet’s Larry Dignan summarizes the new Windows 8 logo succinctly: “The Windows 8 logo gives me a window, but I want to jump out of it.”
And while Betanews’ Joe Wilcox does end up devoting nearly 900 words toward discussing the “bland branding” of Microsoft’s newest logo iteration, the opening picture to his opus says it all: A shot from the movie Titanic that features a big, sinking ocean liner in the background.
“There are icebergs enough ahead. Logos are not insignificant. Many top brands are recognized by their logos, which significance increase in making flash impressions as people skip commercials on shows they recorded or breeze past banner ads or road-side billboards. Apple’s logo is iconic, and the four-color Windows flag is as close as Microsoft will get. Microsoft’s name as brand, unlike, say, Coca-Cola, simply isn’t memorable or marketable enough,” Wilcox writes.
Adding a bit of technical analysis to the melee is logo and identity designer Graham Smith – 23 years of experience in the field and counting – who takes issue with Microsoft’s treatment of perspective in the logo’s “Windows” themselves.
“It’s all about the perspective and the simple fact that the white dividing lines would/should/ought to—I like to think this is a reasonable conclusion—increase in width the further left-to-right background/foreground it goes. Instead, the white dividing lines remain constant and seemingly don’t work/run/flow with that quite dramatic off-the-page perspective,” Smith writes.
So, is there anyone out there in techland who does like Microsoft’s new icon?
“All the criticism is flat out wrong,” writes Clinton Stark, former director of marking for EMC.
To Stark, the Windows 8 logo fits the general design patterns found in other “timeless” logos: It’s simple, it doesn’t contain unnecessary flourish, and it appears clean and modern. And, most importantly, the logo’s monochrome appearance and overall design fits the look and feel of Windows’ Metro UI – exactly what design firm Pentagram was hoping to accomplish in the logo’s design.
“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,” reads a post on Pentagram’s site. “The new identity reintroduces this idea with the actual visual principles of perspective. It also reflects the Metro design language developed by Microsoft for its products, graphics and user interfaces.”
Technologizer’s Ed Oswald says that Microsoft is simply following in Apple’s footsteps – in a good way – by finally shifting and adapting its logo (and products) to a “less is more” philosophy. The logo matches Microsoft’s new Metro UI, in that both stress simplicity above all.
“Windows 8 is a big departure from the ‘Microsoft Way,’ thus it requires a completely different way of looking at the brand and a big shift from the past,” Oswald writes. “This certainly captures it, and I am very impressed that the company seems to be thinking out of the box. For a company that was stagnant for so long, this is a breath of fresh air.”
One of Microsoft’s goals in designing the new logo was to keep the design, “humble, yet overconfident.” Time’s Harry McCracken, who still considers the Windows 8 logo to be a little “bland,” agrees with Microsoft’s overall approach.
“The old Microsoft consistently went overboard selling Windows, with splashy logos and overly exuberant slogans such as ‘The Wow Starts Now.’ But I don’t want to be wowed by my operating system–I want it to get out of my face, and not break, and generally be a platform for useful applications that make my life better rather than a glorious experience unto itself,” McCracken writes.
And yourself? Are you wooed by Microsoft’s latest logo treatment, or do you think that all the hubbub over how Microsoft’s branding its new operating system pales in comparison to how Windows 8 actually looks and feels as a product? Is everyone just a little too loony for logos right now? Let us know in the comments.
Microsoft is expected to unveil a consumer preview of Windows 8 at Mobile World Congress later this month. For more, see PCMag’s Hands On with Windows 8 Developer Preview. Also check out the slideshow of Windows logos through the years below.
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