Logo Design Love

For graphic designers and all who love logos.

It’s a window, not a flag

“To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.”
— GEORGE ORWELL

That’s how Sam Moreau, principal director of user experience for Windows, felt when Paula Scher of Pentagram showed him her sketches for the new Windows logo.

Windows 8 logo
Windows 8 logo designed by Pentagram

“Paula asked us a simple question, ‘Your name is Windows. Why are you a flag?’”

Windows logo evolution
A few previous Windows logos

“We approached the logo redesign with a few key goals in mind.

“We wanted the new logo to be both modern and classic by echoing the International Typographic Style (or Swiss design) that has been a great influence on our Metro style design philosophy. Using bold flat colors and clean lines and shapes, the new logo has the characteristics of way-finding design systems seen in airports and subways.

“It was important that the new logo carries our Metro principle of being ‘Authentically Digital’. By that, we mean it does not try to emulate faux-industrial design characteristics such as materiality (glass, wood, plastic, etc.). It has motion — aligning with the fast and fluid style you’ll find throughout Windows 8.

“Our final goal was for the new logo to be humble, yet confident. Welcoming you in with a slight tilt in perspective and when you change your color, the logo changes to reflect you. It is a ‘Personal’ Computer after all.”
— SAM MOREAU

More from Sam Moreau here: Redesigning the Windows logo.

Update:
Rationale from the designers on the Pentagram website.

Update: 24 August 2012
So that’s the operating system logo. Now there’s a new Microsoft logo.

My thoughts? For consistency’s sake I’d like to see a TM beside the 8.

Thanks to Sam Withey for the tip.

Logo Design Love: A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities, second edition

42 appreciated comments

  1. Vera

    Okay… not convincing enough… for me at least.
    Is this like something final? Or just a suggestion?

    I appreciate the simplicity but I think composition-wise, it’s totally wrong.
    You look at the symbol (the window) and it makes you look to the left, because of the perspective. The symbol should be mirrored I think, so that it draws the eye towards the text.

    But frankly, it could have been better. They should have tried for a symbol with a deeper meaning, leaving it simple at the same time (think Apple – not an Apple fan, at all, but I really appreciate their logo and its meaning).

    Only for God’s sake, don’t try crowdsourcing!

  2. Jake

    It’s pretty clearly a window, some people just need to look at this with a bit more perspective…

  3. I like it! A nice improvement over the old Windows logos.

  4. “My thoughts? For consistency’s sake I’d like to see a TM beside the 8.”

    Hahahaha!

  5. Stephen Lee Ogden

    Hmmm.

    That’s my first impression. The ‘welcoming humility’ is a bit boring to me. The flags were at least dynamic. This is so literal it bothers me. The lowercase ‘i’ stands out to much.

    So hmmm.

  6. K.

    Is it just me or does space between the i & n need some kerning?

  7. They need to lose the TM and the R.

    The typeface is awkward all around.

  8. jon

    Strange to choose a monochromatic logo as the shape is not really unique. Their brand identity is more linked to the green, blue, yellow and red than to a shape. And I don’t mention the wrong perspective.

  9. Swisser

    I absolutely love it and I hope Microsoft has the balls to put this trough. Of course the logo like this looks a bit naked. But imagine this in an UI or any other product. I think it’ll work well with other components. I’m sick of this real world fakery (shiny and glow effects, 3d, glass effects, leather — damn you iCal, and so on).

    I believe that now where we all know that computers are capable of rendering pretty much everything, we can come back to the principle of reduction and do icons and logos the way they were meant to be: simple.

    Thank you Microsoft.

  10. Good analogy, right out of Don Drapers top drawer.

    Arguably you could say that windows doesn’t need a symbol. The symbol isn’t confident or unique enough to appear on it’s own like Apple’s symbol, the logo isn’t confident to unique enough to appear on it’s own like Googles logo.

    It makes sense but it doesn’t excite. But not every identity does. It’s incredibly corporate, sterile and dull.

    So perfect for Microsoft.

  11. Dami

    I don’t believe Paula Scher just asked that. It would be the same if I asked Starbucks “Your name is Starbucks. Why are you a double-tailed mermaid?” I’m not sure, but as I remember, David said in his book logos don’t need to be the representation of the brand’s name.

    And I agree with Vera when she said about the perspective causing your eyes to move to the left. That is just bad.

    I keep up with the old (current) logo.

  12. Gino

    I like it, with the simplicity of windows mobile and tablet interfaces, it works well. The ‘i” needs to have the dot dropped a few points and really kern the ‘W’ more. That’s pretty bad.

    Other than that, if you don’t have to think twice about it then it does its job well because you know its Windows and nothing else.

  13. Nuno

    Can you TM an “8″? But I see your point.
    Regarding the logo… yes it’s more “Windows” then ever, yes it makes sense, mainly with the “Metro” UI… but out of it’s context (like the new DC Comics logo) leaves much to be desired.
    But then again, rumors are circling that this is not the final logo. I hope the rumors are true.

  14. I love it’s simplicity – way better than the old ones.

  15. Did you noticed there are FOUR blue screens (of death) there? Not a good thing to remember about a product, if you ask me. :-)

  16. Gerard Syms

    I’m trying to think of the need for an actual representation of a window, wrong perspective and all.

    I really don’t think that’s the best direction to go into. The flag itself was pretty iconic, but this loses the dynamism of the flag and is just not distinctive.

    I know that better could be done. Hope this isn’t final.

  17. Well, I’m a Windows phone user, and I need to say that the logo is perfect to work with the metro UI.

    http://admintell.napco.com/ee/images/uploads/gadgetell/windows-phone-7-mango-logos-500.jpg

    The new logo is clean, can work with any color. I like it.

  18. Kyle Hendel

    I made my own logo if anyone wants to check it out. http://www.flickr.com/photos/76927059@N03/6898001107/in/photostream/

  19. I love the colour, simplicity and esspeically the angle of the new logo, but I can’t help but feel that it does look like a flag.

    It’s kind of like that 1 second test designs do. If I was to look at this logo for 1 second, without having seen it before, my mind would perhaps jump to flag first. Maybe it’s intentional though?

  20. Lo

    Well, it still is a flag.

  21. John Spiegel

    Nice play on words, Jake!
    The colors are not strong enough to belong to the family of Windows
    previous designs. The designer doesn’t have the right
    “perspective” on designing for a family of stronger looking logos.
    Shouldn’t there have been 8 window panes?
    (Just kidding!)

  22. Tim

    Paula Scher’s reputation speaks for itself but I don’t think this is one of her better pieces of work. Like one or two other commentators here I don’t see a window either, but another (vaguely Scandinavian looking) flag. It seems like a missed opportunity to me…

  23. I never really liked the multi-coloured Windows logos, so this is my favourite Windows logo. It’s in one colour, clean, simple and modern. I don’t know why everyone thinks it looks like a flag? It looks like a window to me. I like the blue colour because that’s what you see when you look out the window – the sky.

  24. Tim

    @Carmia. I’ve been wondering why some of us see the flag and others don’t. Could be down to geography and culture?
    We all know that some words can mean one thing in one culture and something entirely different in another. And by the same token certain colours have different meanings and symbolisms in different cultures too.
    So it’s possible that, to Europeans, the proportions of the new ‘window’ shape, together with the positioning of the vertical rule against the horizontal, remind us of certain flags, eg those of the countries who use the Nordic Cross.
    It would be interesting to see where people with the opposing views live and work.

  25. Nuno

    I’m portuguese and I see a Window, not the most brilhant one, but a window.
    I think that many people see a flag for 2 reasons:
    1st there’s a long tradition in “windows flags”
    2nd we are all talking about a flag

    One another note, Eustáquio Rangel comment on the “FOUR blue screens (of death)” is just priceless :)

  26. Swisser

    @Tim

    I’m European (Swiss) and what I’m tempted to see is the swedish flag.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Sweden

  27. Mark Iliff

    I wonder whether the Greek flag will start to be known as the “Windows & stripes”? This logo would have been huge in Iceland before 1915…

    µ

  28. @Tim

    That’s a very interesting comment! I’m South African, and our flag doesn’t look like that:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_South_Africa

    So that’s probably why I see a window, not a flag.

  29. I like it, too. Course, I hate the previous multi-colored “flags” they’ve been using, so almost anything would be an improvement to me. I would like to see it tweaked more, but I won’t put my own spin on it. I looked at the two others posted and, um, nah. Why does it need five colors? For one thing. Why can’t it just be blue? I get the arguments on the perspective issues, but I kind like that it breaks that particular rule. Yeah, I’d like to see them implement this. Things are getting smaller, they need a trimmer logo. And one that isn’t tricked out and gimmicky. I think this has character. Sure, maybe it isn’t “dynamic”, but what exactly does that mean? Seems it means put the color and gimmicks back in. :P

  30. Birdaldo

    Its not the same as Starbucks at all. Windows logos are meant to look like windows but they don’t, they look like flags. This one looks like a window, good work I say. Also, I looked to the right naturally, maybe it’s because I’m not a designer, but then most people who use Windows aren’t designers.

  31. Dan

    It’s hard to judge the new branding based solely on logo mark…

    But like everyone else I have formed my opinion :)
    The font needs some more work, change the W to a lower case w, that way it’ll work better standing next to the i. And it’ll probably be easier to fix the kerning throughout.

    The window just doesn’t work, it just looks to much like a flag. (putting the symbol in a perspective doesn’t mean its “progressive” and “dynamic”) My advice would be to go back and take inspiration from the first Windows logo.

    The TM and ® are there for a reason, so there’s just no way getting around them :(

    But! kudos on the color :) nice to see they didn’t fall for a gradient.

  32. With the title of this article, my initial thought was that the new design was like a flag too – ok so they ditched the wavy effect making it extremely flag like – but just the fact that to me it now looks like a flag because it has the white cross in the middle and there is no outer edge and yes I know all about negative space but it still seems a little flag like to me. The thickness of the white frame does help pull it away though. I guess to the un trained eye, people will see a window because they read the word ‘Windows’ so they need nothing else.

    I think in some ways I prefer the simplicity to that of the old logo and I like the concept of it, but I’m just not totally convinced by this new design yet.

  33. After working a bit in Windows 8 – the preview edition, I find the concept and the design of the new logo very much connected. I am sorry but they are both failures in my humble point of view.

    Why? because the result is far beyond what is declared by design and the big name talks and the shiny presentations.

    Windows 8 logo is as sterile as the operating system, I mean why do they keep up this mask? Part of the menu of windows 8 just got more complicated and just makes my life harder as a user. Tabs over tabs and small menus and arrows and far too many buttons.

    Pentagram used to be good and I honestly admire some of the work they have done. It’s ok to fail but it’s not ok to pretend that a failure is a win.

    Sorry, don’t want to flame the article, is just too much BS in the presentation. We all have bad days at work so get real and do it better Pentagram. I know you can do it. :)

  34. Janos

    But what about pleonasm?
    Windows says > window shows?
    Isn’t the symbol supposed to capture the essence of the brand and further enrich the message rather than act like a visual translation for the wordmark?

  35. Euh, maybe they shouldn’t show a window next to ‘windows’.

  36. Brett

    I love it. Its what the logo evolution should be. Its now timeless.

    The font and icon make it instantly recognizable.
    The single, solid color makes it easy to print, scale, knock out and translate to any media.

  37. I think the MSN butterfly would look nicer than the 4 squares. The new Windows logo may work with whatever the new concept Microsoft is trying to convey, but it just looks so machine-ish, cold and boring. There is not a single hint of human touch about it.

  38. Andy

    Interesting that the comments are split down the middle between people who like it and people who don’t. I see it as an improvement over the old logo but its definitely not a “wow” effect logo. But simplicity helps in this case. The “i” is awkward next the “W”, with the dot practically touching the “W”. It looks like a good start but not a final logo.

  39. kelivn

    I think it’s time to move to a shape rather than the name. The previous shape was nice but I didn’t like the glows and highlights. It needs a fresher look and more clay style and an 8 that stays in our mind like the apple on Apple.

  40. Cicerone

    Who needs designers when little or no applied creativity and conceptual thinking will suffice. The “design” does not fall into the category of less-is-more as there is no concept that is discernible. Disappointing. Looks like the product of a collective, arrived at by consensus.

  41. William W.

    Um Paula, you’re legendary in the design community and greatly respected, but this is the second Identity i have seen my self by you to me which lacks the creativity you are known for. true it’s a window not a flag, but at least the last set of logos where very creative and still looked like windows. This is a supreme example of why the design community is not respected now, because they believe anyone and i do mean anyone can just throw together a design. Poor.


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