In a move that demonstrates how cleanly Microsoft intends to cut itself off from the last 20 years of its most widely-used and widely-recognized products, they have given the Windows logo its most significant redesign in 20 years. Ever since Windows 3.1, the slightly curved, red-green-blue-yellow panes have greeted millions on startup, or at least peeked out from the corner of the screen.
No longer: Microsoft has abandoned the shape, color scheme, and even the start button. The new logo is monochromatic (or rather, polymonochromatic), straight, and unfamiliar. If they intended to show just how much they’ve changed the philosophy of the OS, this is a good way to do it.
Some like the new design. Some don’t. But changes to major brands rarely produce anything but controversy, and this is no exception. Microsoft can’t go back on it, the way they can’t go back on the changes they’ve introduced with Windows 8. Whether you enjoy the new logo and look or not, at least you can say they are both new.
Personally, I’m not a fan. I understand the idea of the clean break and of evoking the Metro interface. That’s fine. But the logo fails for me because it doesn’t represent Windows as a brand, it represents a visual theme that hasn’t shipped and isn’t familiar to most users. The logo also changes color with your theme, which I think is a weak decision. The four-color panes were a little loud, to be sure, but that was what they had to work with back in the day if they didn’t want to dither but still wanted to show a decent image in an 8-bit graphics mode.
It has survived not just out of tradition, but because it’s instantly recognized by billions worldwide. That’s not brand capital Microsoft throws away lightly, I’m sure, but the question is why they’ve chosen to throw it away at all.
And the tilt on the “window” seems incongruous with both the OS and the logo itself. Is it coming, going, or just tilting? Does it ever tilt like that when you’re using Windows 8? If it’s meant to evoke the Metro UI, shouldn’t the Metro UI reflect that shape and angle more strongly?
But like I said, any change like this generates dissent like mine, while there are plenty who will find it magnificently clean, understated, and very in keeping with the Metro visual language. It’s here to stay, and a year from now when we’ve had it at our elbows and seen it on a hundred new devices, maybe we’ll feel differently.
Update: Just for fun, I made the logo as it might have looked with the old color scheme: