With one notable exception, I’m actually liking what’s coming out of Microsoft’s Redmond Headquarters for the first time in a while. Today, the company has announced the adoption of a new logo, marking the first time the company has changed its logo in 25 years. The new logo is now prominently displayed on microsoft.com, as well as at the company’s Seattle, Bellevue, and new Boston retail stores. The new logo features the boxy Microsoft logo we’ve come to know through the company’s upcoming Windows Products, and the word Microsoft in a smaller font. The company clearly wants us to focus on the Windows logo instead of the name, a fitting testament to the radical changes (both good and bad) the company is putting out.
“[The new logo is intended to] signal the heritage but also signal the future — a newness and freshness.” - Jeff Hansen, General Manager, Brand Strategy – Microsoft
Windows 8 is certainly one of the most controversial products to come out of the company since the oft-beguiled Windows Vista. On tablets, the new
Metro Modern UI tiled interface is well thought out and intuitive to use, but loses its sparkle on the more customary laptop and desktop form factors. PC users are bemoaning Microsoft’s move away from the classic desktop, and for good reason. Metro was designed for mobile computing, and extending that philosophy to traditionally less-mobile use cases, and abandoning the classic desktop in the process is a head-scratching move that could see users skipping Windows 8 altogether in favor of Windows 9.
Still, the company may be onto something when it comes to tablets and smartphones. Marin argued a few months back that a Windows 8-based tablet could be the only true competitor to the iPad, an argument I further made due to the fact that Windows 8 tablets will feature a fully baked version of Microsoft Office, a sure enterprise-pleaser. Sure, some would argue that viable alternatives exist on Android tablets, though in my experience the file compatibility with most of these programs and the experience transferring documents between Android and PC have left much to be desired. In my opinion, the tiled interface and Modern UI apps on Windows 8 could make for an ideal mobile computing experience, and I’m excited to give it a spin when the Surface tablets launch in October.
Microsoft’s upcoming Windows Phone 8 platform has an air of freshness to it as well. The revamped tile-based home screen will provide users significant levels of customizability, thanks to resizable tiles and more tile support from Windows Phone applications. At a time when iPhones and Android devices feel like more of the same, Windows Phone 8 provides a compelling and fresh alternative these long-running market leaders. Of course, the platform has its issues; even though it has been around for several years now, the number of applications available doesn’t come close to those offered by iOS and Android. This will likely work itself out in the next year or so as Microsoft makes strong pushes to bring developers into the Windows Phone ecosystem. Analysts are also expecting more and more users to adopt Windows Phone 8 as a platform, which could and likely will spur developer interest. It’s much more compelling to build for a platform with a 10% market share than one with less than 5%.
Microsoft hasn’t been this exciting of a company to watch in quite some time. While they may not have runaway successes on their hands, they’ve managed to bring back some of the newness and freshness they’ve so sorely lacked of late, and in a way that ensures customers will notice. And it may be just enough to compel them to open their wallets.
Update - Neowin readers noted that the logo isn’t that new after all, and that the current logo in slightly different form made appearances in 2 Windows 95 commercials. Take that for what it’s worth.