Microsoft’s Makeover: the New Logo

Microsoft has changed their logo. The new design was revealed last week…

Microsoft new logo

The logo has evolved since 1975 but the current incarnation appeared in 1987 and remained unchanged for 25 years:

Microsoft old logo

The new logo is the first to feature a separate icon and color. The colors match those applied to the symbols for Windows 8 (the neutral light blue), Office (the active orangery-red) and Xbox (the relaxed light green). That leaves a mysterious yellow. My guess: it’ll be applied to Microsoft’s touch devices such as Windows Phone and Surface tablets.

On the plus side:

  • it’s a clearer more modern design
  • it’s simple; logos should always be simple
  • it matches Microsoft’s more-focused consumer product line
  • it embodies the friendlier, cuddlier image the company is working hard to portray
  • I don’t hate it.

On the negative side:

  • does it reflect serious business software required by corporate users?
  • why doesn’t it apply 3D depth effects used on the other logos?
  • will it work in gray-scale?
  • is it distinctive enough?
  • does it look too much like the old Windows logo?

On that last point, I’m not convinced it matters. Microsoft is inextricably linked to Windows, although having both logos on the same box might look odd? I suspect the branding team wanted it to be reminiscent of Windows 8 UI style (The Interface Previously Known As Metro — or TIPKAM. Microsoft — if you can’t think of a better name, have that one on me).

Microsoft’s early logos were obviously designs of the 1970s and 1980s, but the current version has fared remarkably well for its age. I never really understood the slash between the o and s, but it still looks reasonably fresh in 2012.

There’s nothing particularly good or bad you can say about the new Microsoft logo. Perhaps its neutrality is its biggest strength? But will it provide the company with another 25 years of uninterrupted branding? I have my doubts.

Over to you. Does the new Microsoft logo inspire you or should the designer have their artistic license revoked?

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  • Ciaran

    Who gives a crap? They’re just rearranging deck chairs on the titanic. It’s just a logo, they should concentrate on making great products that people want to buy and that work well together. But hey, maybe I’m just old fashioned.

    • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

      Crikey Ciaran, even the most ardent MS critic might find that a little harsh! It’s only a logo.

      • Ciaran

        Well that’s kinda my point, it’s only a logo. It’s not going to cure Microsofts problems. Which, by the way I think are very curable. I just don’t understand why people get so worked up about logo design, it’s all a bit ‘emperors new clothes’ to me.

      • Rainy68

        I don’t hate, but don’t particularly like the new logo. I understand the colors. Google uses them and it was something Microsoft themselves have used. The bland ‘Microsoft’ I don’t get. Maybe they’re trying to tell people they think their own products are bland? Which they are. MS needs to step up and bring their producs up to the industry standard. They’re falling behind the crowd.

        Their one product I do really like is Office. It integrates with some many offerings that it’s very convenient for me to use in my work environment. Unless Open Office has an IM program, even they can’t compete with Microsoft on this one. Plus, it’s what management decided to go with, so I have no choice. But again, it all has to do with branding, which is so important today.

        Ciaran, it may be ‘just a logo’, but how many logos do you see on a daily basis and know exactly what company owns it and the products they sell? In an instant, you know the company. That’s what logos are all about. So no logo is ‘just a logo’. It can either make a company extremely recognizable or contribute to its fading into the background.

    • Richard Miller

      Someone doesn’t like Microsoft!

  • papaman

    oh microsoft. do you have identity problems? are you looking for a logo designer? maybe a UI expert as well?

    I can’t wait for their next logo on Windows 9.

    I can’t wait for their new “interface” design on Windows 10.

    oh microsoft.

    • pippo

      Did apple have identity problems when they changed logo?

      • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

        With the exception of the very first (awful) Apple logo, they’ve used the bitten fruit from the start. It was initially multi-color, but all others have been a variation of that theme with some tweaks to the typeface.

        The Apple logo still looks fine today, but there’s not as much scope for change. It’s an apple.

  • http://saltprint.com.au Wick

    The outgoing logo has done well for a quarter century. It’s never a bad move to simplify.

  • http://www.mikehealy.com.au Mike Healy

    It’s fine. The 1975 and 1980 logos are where I focus my vitriol. Disco and Metal—did the designers not consider that a software giant is different to a music genre. It’s like the just picked the font dejour and called it a day.

    • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

      It’s easy to mock, but those logos and typefaces were considered ‘modern’ in the 1970s. And don’t forget that Microsoft wasn’t a multi-national conglomerate back then. It was probably something Bill sketched on a napkin.

    • Richard Miller

      Microsoft were an 80′s Hair Metal band, surely everyone knows this?

  • http://yetidogchew.com Bharat

    looks good !!!

  • Märt

    Saw this a while back – a student gave himself 3 days to work out a new branding scheme for Microsoft. http://www.minimallyminimal.com/2012/7/3/the-next-microsoft.html

    • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

      That’s really nice. Dare I say it, but I think it’s better. Microsoft could have saved a fortune!

    • http://l4jp.com Karen

      That student’s idea is great, in my opinion:
      * Flexible – can be used in a variety of contexts, including the Home button, a frame for other images, etc. I like the way the student demonstrated the breadth of possibly contexts.
      * Simple – works in grayscale, small size, large size, etc.
      * The font is distinctive (no dot on the “i”) but readable.

      As for what Microsoft actually chose, since I’m still using Windows XP (I don’t like any of the newer versions so far), I simply thought of the new logo as a flattened and simplified version of the Windows logo, and since they’re trying to move beyond the image of being just “the Windows company”, it looks like a step backward.

  • theflyingcow

    “That leaves a mysterious yellow.”

    Yellow probably represents their search engine, Bing. :-)

    • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

      It’s definitely a possibility — the dot above the ‘i’ is a yellowy color, but it’s not quite right. Also, they could have re-branded it by now if Bing were the answer.

      It could also be IE10, although dropping the blue ‘e’ would confuse many people and MS are spending a fortune on IE advertising.

      • http://cloudpim.info Rob Engel

        The favicon at bing.com looks to be the same yellow, and so does the logo for Bing at microsoft.com (if you scroll down to see the product line).

        I kind of like this new logo, I’ll take this over an overly complicated one any day.

  • McBenny

    Well, when I first saw the “Windows 8″ logo, I thought they hadn’t work a lot on it. With a little time, it makes sense. Even if I just hate that blue.
    Fot the MS logo, Whoah, they were even less working!
    Ok, that’s the 4 parts of a window. A window. What about “windowS” ? Ok, I’m too precise.
    Let’s talk about the colors: they reflect the main products? Well I thought that were the Google colors! Oh no, you’re right, google colors are more “basic” and “childy” (excuse my english). But what are the colors of Google? Blue, red, green and orange-yellow. What are the new colors of MS? I’m sure you’ve found.
    I’m not specialized in logos but what about the space between the “icon” and the word “Microsoft”? isn’t it a bit large? To me, it’s totally detached from the icon.
    And what’s that grey? #717171? Oh my god, where’s that trainee that choose it? Not even a touch of any color, just pure grey. Berk! (we just avoided #7f7f7f, may be due to a calculation error?)
    And what about the font? Hey to get this result, no need to use a proprietary font!
    As a conclusion I’d say that I don’t like it, it seems so poor to me and I think the color will quickly be obsolete as there’re too trendy today. No identity at all.

    • http://antjanus.com Antonin

      I think those are all GREAT points actually. There were a few things I found odd with the logo as well. I do like its implementation in the windows store and I do like the way microsoft FINALLY has an icon. Here are my problems with the logo

      * the color of the font. Yep, same. Except I’m not looking for a tint, I’d just like it darker. I feel like it’s TOO light.
      * the space IS a bit odd. I knew the spacing was bothering me, I just couldn’t put my finger on it until you placed it. It’s either that or the fact that the type seems too small for the icon. Should they be matching heights? Should there be something else? Idk but the current implementation makes the logo seem a bit off.

  • http://huongdancado.mov.vn m88

    thank you so much!

  • http://brianswebdesign.com Brian Temecula

    I think it’s too simple, but imagine that the decision came down to a bunch of executives that couldn’t come to an agreement on something better.

  • Matthew P.

    http://www.conversionvoodoo.com/blog/2010/04/increase-your-conversion-rate-by-making-your-site-uglier/

    ^Just finished reading this article linked from the recent “Why should I hire you when I can do it myself?” article here on sitepoint. The article in the link basically puts forth the premise with some very solid statistical backing and real world examples that “uglier is sometimes better” – or more accurately that a brand identity that gives a high class/expensive impression can be prohibative to sales, and can be less effective than one that simply gets the job done.

    It seems that particularly for a company with Microsoft’s ubiquity and massive reach/scale, the apparent quality or attractiveness of their logo could quite possibly be one of the lesser considerations in their campaign. At least I don’t think we can necessarily measure their logo or brand identity decisions by the such simple metrics without knowing what they are really trying to achieve. Most designers or even average people might take a look and go “meh, I can take it or leave it”, but we’re talking about a company with many teams of people with various specializations, coordinating their efforts to create a certain overall image for the company – no one person alone could possibly hope to accurately determine or predict the success of marketing strategy for such an organization, especially if they aren’t privy to the statistics and data Microsoft is surely using to determine their course of action.

  • Van Luu

    A lot better than the previous

  • http://www.netprofitmarketing.com/cleveland/ jared

    For some reason when I look at the new logo I think of Google Chrome.

    • http://www.7plusdezine.com/ Benny Liu

      The four colors are used in Chrome logo. lol

    • terry

      Holy cow! It’s a square Google Chrome logo. I wonder when the lawsuits will happen.

      • Chris

        Actually Microsoft has been using a similar logo for Windows since Windows 3.1. The intensity of the colors has changed but they’ve stayed in the same order (red, green, yellow, blue going clockwise from the top left).

  • http://www.webdesigncc.com/ peter

    Better then previous one’s but it could be better. I expect more from Microsoft.

  • Femi Adesoye

    Pardon me! If you present this as a class assignment in an art school they score you a very low mark and you are viewed as not being creative. I can assure the managers did not pass logo improvement project through an ad agency. Must have been done in-house by cowboy designer, a manager’s favorite.

    For a company like Microsoft you would expect something better. It just shows reasons why the company is no longer one of the trend setters. There is nothing modern or creative about this logo. The logo is crude and old fashioned. Probably reflects the company’s present leadership. Not impressed at all! I’m sorry!

  • Ericson P

    I can’t stop yawning. Purely uninspired and safe.
    Märt had it right in a previous post with this link http://www.minimallyminimal.com/2012/7/3/the-next-microsoft.html.
    Microsoft should be on the phone with Minimally Minimal this very moment.

  • MikeL

    I’m sure they paid some top “designer” gobs of money for what looks like a step backwards.

  • http://guilhermemuller.com.br Guilherme

    I think the application of a logo is more important than the logo itself for a company the size of Microsoft. Time will tell. When Pepsi presented their logo, almost everyone didn’t like it. But I think they are doing a good job with the graphic design on their products.

  • Curtis

    I actually like this logo redesign. I think they are going for simple and straight-forward. In fact, if you contrast it with the new offerings you find similarities. Windows Phone and “Metro” are very simple but neat. Clean. The separate colored panels might resemble tiles on a Windows 8 home screen or Windows phone.

  • Sorin Jurcut

    This logo is a 21 century icon for what design looks like in top businesses. What I mean by that is that design is done by a commitee. And when that happens, you get results like these. Logos without any soul, passion or personality. Logos that just are. They exist, they are there. They don’t impress and they don’t evoke any kind of feeling other than that of neutrality. They serve the purpose of filling a gap. Nothing more nothing less. But is THAT what a logo has to be ? Especially when we’re talking about a brand which is so big ? I’ll leave it up to each to make up his own mind. From my personal point of view, of a graphic designer, it looks awful. It says nothing, feels bland and cheap and done on a budget by a commitee of upper management.

  • John Brandt

    The new logo isn’t simple, it’s plain. Excruciatingly mediocre and just plain plain. The name, plainly set in one of their most generic-looking typefaces. Four squares plainly positioned as a plain square. This is a logo? Shouldn’t a logo say something about the brand? Be memorable? Be unique? (That’s unique, not just plain.) Unless the message of this “logo” is that Microsoft is the most boring company to ever redo its logo, this one fails dismally. Try again, Microsoft. Please.

  • Keron

    I just want to know why the icon in the logo resembles the categorize button in outlook 2010. Just seems like NO thought went into this at all!

  • Josh

    Re: does it look too much like the old Windows logo?

    Agreed.

  • http://georglangley.ca George Langley

    Actually, they stole it from this guy:

    http://gusclass.com/blog/tag/games/

    (Scroll down near the bottom.)

  • orkeven

    the logo is very simple…portions of an attic’s window well-interspersed. maybe, the products and values represented in the logo will become independent members of the same team.. Maybe the lack of depth and faded intensity of the colours mean that they’re working on an interface.. an advanced interface that will begin to give value to such non-intense/lack-lustre colors.

    If I owned Google, I’d sue microsoft for picking my colours.

    If I was a kid, I’d find the new microsoft logo pretty creative, something out-of-the-ordinary, something more…. More what? I’m not able to tell at the moment.

    anyways, a message is being passed here – whether it is a delibrate message or an accidental one. There is a silent (probably ultrasonic) story which the logo is telling.

    I wait to see the more which is coming…

  • http://www.intercomm.co.za Dianne

    I like it. It’s understated. I can’t stand those 3D effects in logos. It’s like the designer went crazy with Photoshop styles. When you are are large and ubiquitous as Microsoft, where everyone in the world knows your company and products, you don’t need to shout.

  • http://shorewalker.com David Walker

    Microsoft has here produced some of the worst typography ever to grace a major corporate logo. The letter-spacing on that thing comes straight out of Word. The logo and wordmark look uncomfortable standing next to each other; they have nothing in common except their gracelessness.

    Andrew Kim (minimallyminimal.com) argues, correctly, that Microsoft has been shuffling towards a truly digital corporate style, without the skeumorphism that is creeping into Apple products. This is a major setback for Microsoft design.

    Microsoft’s obvious next step: buy Kim’s work, turn him into a design-school hero, and roll his redesign out in 18 months’ time. His logo design and other speculative Microsoft branding constitutes the best rebranding idea I’ve seen in years.

  • Designerama

    Design by committee yields results like this. Atrocious!

  • Ornette

    The new logo demonstrates where Microsoft is now that Bill Gates has left. It’s a staid, conservative unimaginative company that doesn’t know where it’s going.

  • itfidds

    @orkeven and anyone else inferring that MS ‘stole’ Googles colours – do a search (using Google of course) for Windows 3.0 and then switch to images mode. Or look up Windows 3.0 on Wiki.

    Note the almost square logo and the 4 colours? And Windows 3.0 was released around 1990 – almost 10 years before Google existed!

    I dislike Microsoft as much as the next man but give them a break. Boring the new logo maybe, bland it certainly is. But they are not guilty of plagiarism…

  • http://sebastiangreen.com Sebastian Green

    It’s plain, yet professional. To me, that is what Microsoft is as a company/business.

  • Ray Marsh

    The new logo is so flat and lifeless. I actually thought it was a joke, a throwback to make a point then bring out the new modern logo. To me it does not look modern, it looks old school, boring, conservative. I agree logos should be simple but they also should be distinctive. I’m sure some edgier, more modern logos were proposed but rejected. MS has fallen into to the corporate quagmire that so many companies do. The have become IBM. Someone newer, quicker, more innovative is going to beat them up and take their lunch money. It is already happening.

  • http://cmsi.webs.com Mark Ess

    Rhetorical questions alert! –> 3D? Really??? And grayscale? THAT’s a problem???

    For all that the logo needs to do, it’s ideal! Browse over to the Microsoft site to see it scaled and on light and dark backgrounds – it looks great without any adjustments. Pay close attention to that gray, too; or, just for kicks, MSPaint the logo and then invert the colors. Notice anything?

    For any other company, different typography would have been an improvement; however, as with Coca-Cola and Ford, there’s clearly instant recognition there, no matter how “bad” it otherwise seems to be…

    Also: This isn’t a rebranding – this is an evolution. Microsoft is a conglomeration now, similar to Coca-Cola and Ford, and General Electric, General Motors, Ingersoll Rand, News Corp, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and others. Think of these entities in terms of FIFA, MLB, the NBA or the NFL. For example, just because I have a Steelers jersey doesn’t mean that I want the NFL logo to appear prominently; however, I DO expect it to be there – inconspicuously – as a declaration of product authenticity and quality. And that’s all…

  • graphicus

    There is a major cultural problem with this logo. Almost certainly unintentional, but there is a prominent white cross at the heart of it. In some muslim countries that could be deemed a problem. Paranoia? Prejudice? Tea-leaf reading? Quite probably, but it is a cultural reality nonetheless, and something that a designer for a global retail corporate should be aware of. I agree with all the other comments, especially about the typeface and the letter spacing – it just says unprofessional, couldn’t be bothered to actually design something so I just typed it in Word.

  • http://trivial.ly Nicholas Johnson

    I like it. It’s clean, simple, cut down, instantly recognisable, it knows it’s history.

  • Serg10

    Simple but make confusing windows product with company concepts. The previous one is better. Anyway thats only a desperate move. Microsoft is not the number 1 anymore

  • http://www.johnmanoah.com John Manoah

    I somehow liked the windows effect in the MS Windows logo. Microsoft’s biggest brand is Windows and the logo could’ve incorporated the graphic to the right border. To me, the logo looks a bit primitive and not up to the standards of a reworked logo in 2012. I would’ve appreciated this logo in 2002!! The good side of it is that it is simple, very simple; Four colored boxes with a cross (plus sign) in between :P !!!

  • Srinivasan

    New logo often gets criticism because they replace the existing and you are not familiar. Once your brain registers Microsoft new logo in its sub-conscious mind, you will get used to it and start appreciating it.

    More you see the icon more it become acceptable.

  • http://www.getdomainer.com Kyle

    I like the new clean look. I think it will work well as long as all the programs are as easy and simple to follow as the logo is. We’ll see if it is a success yet.