Dear Microsoft, please listen to the people who designed your new Windows 8 logo

I think it’s fair to say opinion is still divided on the new Windows 8 logo, or at least Microsoft’s version. As I briefly noted in an update to my original post, it turns out the logo the prestigious design studio Pentagram proposed to Microsoft is actually different enough that I think it warrants some extra attention.

As they say, design is in the details.

The issue in question comes to light from the Pentagram website where they exhibit and explain their work with Microsoft on redesigning the Windows logo. One paragraph in particular highlights one of the fundamental features of their proposal, perspective.

The perspective drawing is based on classical perspective drawing, not computerized perspective. The cross bar stays the same size no matter the height of the logo, which means it has to be redrawn for each time it increases in size, like classic typography.

Even though the crossbars are just a line, the end result is a logo that is unique at different “sizes”. In retrospect, this is actually quite an interesting and thoughtful design choice that demonstrates extra attention to detail to an otherwise simple shape.

“Now why does this matter” I hear you ask. This matter because the logo Microsoft has shown off and since trademarked on the 17th of February 2012 does not inherit this feature as the trademark and following example illustrate.

Windows 8 logo difference

To be completely anal-retentive, Pentagram’s design is a single trapezoid (trapezium) overlaid with a fixed-size crossbar, whereas Microsoft’s design is four trapezoids arranged in a two-by-two grid. There’s scale and perspective in Microsoft’s crossbar when there shouldn’t be.

Even if you disregard the difference in principle, the logo will look very different when applied to the all the various print and online materials when Windows 8 is released.

I don’t expect Microsoft to pull a GAP in their rebranding exercise and go back to the drawing board – it seems like they are already committed down this path. But I hope they’ll come to accept the one aesthetically-witty aspect of Pentagram’s proposal to heart. After all, they’re the experts Microsoft probably paid millions for.

42 insightful thoughts

  1. I’m sure they are still “testing” different versions of the final logo. As said on your original post, even the design studio has posted different versions with different aspect ration of the window.

    1. Someone remembers the mocking of “iPad”? Turns out, if you have a good product, _nobody_ cares about these nitpicks.

  2. I’ve been soley against their new logo but the one by Pentagram actually looks about 100x better and it doesn’t make my eyes feel like they are bleeding trying to figure out the perspective weirdness with the one Microsoft altered. I say +1 to the Pentagram version…

  3. Long, while I agree with you in principle, I wonder what the original thin-line logo would look like on a large roadside billboard? Surely from almost any distance it’d just look like a solid shape?

    1. Unless you have really blurry vision the contrast of the line color and tile color should still be visible… well… unless its 1 pixel 😉

  4. I love the new logo, such a simple design but expresses Metro perfectly.
    I do hope they go with the original & measured Pentagram version though, looking at the other one I can see why people think it looks like a flag.

  5. It’s four tiles, that together form a Window.

    You know… Tiles, like in Metro. Which is what Windows 8 is all about. A thin line won’t just do it.

    Besides, Windows logo have always had a bit of a gap between the squares.

    Butthurt much?

    1. lol.. have to agree – you are spot on Karlsson – the MS version represents the metro styling perfectly (where ample spacing between the tiles is an extremely important part of the design). It also gives the optical illusion (to me at least) that any one of the 4 tiles is popping out (depending on which one you decide to focus on).

      My impression is it’s all Metro, Metro, Metro when it comes to pretty much every consumer MS are working on right now (WP7, Xbox, Win8 and beyond) – and I don’t think the pentagram version captures that visually at all (the thin lines give me a cluttered and bust feeling – the opposite of the metro feel).

      1. In my opinion the larger spacing on the tiles is a design flaw on Windows Phone to begin with. It is not as sharp looking as the thinner spacing and provides wasted pixels that could be used more effectively, while still being uncluttered.

  6. really? Millions of dollars to develop that? Microsoft you should change agencies and maybe try a smaller studio such as Sagmeister Inc.

  7. Not sure the same-width line is a good solution. Creates many issues.

    First, it looks inconsistent. Starting from the smallest application; probably the favicon for Microsoft’s site where it will be 16 pixels wide of which 1 pixel will be the cross, meaning that 6,25% of the space (looking just horizontal) will be taken by white pixel line. And most likely just beneath it when you come to MS site will be logo in bigger size, maybe a 100 pixels wide, where again 1 pixel will be the line, but this time it will be 1%. It will just look awkward.

    Second, it creates numerous problems when logo is applied to different surfaces. Designers will constantly have to change the color of the cross to match the color of the background (hello gradients in background), and all hell breaks loose if background is photo, so that the cross has to be transparent. Resizing the logo if the background is photo will mean constantly poking 1 pixel (or 1 point) cross from the trapezoid. Nightmare.

    I love the creative idea behind it, just I believe that real world application suffers too much.

  8. The example Microsoft posted on its blog must be a smaller version resized, hence why the gaps seem wider and thicker.

    This will be the problem that Microsoft will have to deal with. Redrawing the logo for each size it will appear at, adds an extra level of complication which many Windows partners will not want to deal with/will not be capable of dealing with.

    The Windows Team is in control of every appearance of the logo in the OS and the store, but I guess we will have to wait and see.

    I would hope there are strong guidelines set out, and perhaps a font containing the logo with each font-size re-drawn to ensure it appears correctly.

  9. I just don’t think these logos are that inspired. They’re not awful. They’re not fantastic. They just are what they are. Either iteration or evolution of these new logos does not appear to drastically change the identity of the Windows brand. And maybe that’s what everyone wants: an updated, kind of Metro-styled logo that doesn’t offend but is still pretty recognizable to the public. Whatever. I think they need to go bold or go home. But that might just be my boredom yelling.

  10. Pentagram’s original version looks even more horrible. Microsoft’s modified one is better. The problem is the loss of iconic colors. If the logo represents tiles in Metro, they should be colored. All the tiles in Metro are of different color, not the same color. And outside of Metro, a regular polished with gradients version should be used. The plain color style looks out of place elsewhere. It fits in only on the Start screen.

    1. I agree. And some of Microsoft’s newer logos, like Zune and the Office rebrand, are impressive. What happened here? And kudos, xpclient, for suggesting some color! They really should keep the four-color scheme that Windows has had for a couple decades.

    2. The idea that Microsoft have implemented for different colours in the new logo is better than what you suggest, in my opinion. The colour of the new logo will change based on how the user personalises their system. I think this opens up some great new marketing opportunities that wouldn’t be available if four different colours were included in the design; Microsoft’s way also allows for the logo to look great on any background.

  11. I can’t agree with this. Microsoft version represents perfectly what’s made of the thing called metro. That’s tiles, not a single tile.

    personally, I like this new logo MS published.

  12. No, they shouldn’t listen to the people that designed the logo. They should toss that work in the nearest trashcan and go back to a simple, one-color Windows flag. It fits within the Metro language 100%. It’s fine. It works. Leave it alone.

  13. It’s all a matter of perspective, two-point to be precise. It’s not meant to be read or interpreted as “four tiles” but simply a window with a horizontal and vertical mullion or dividers in the window. The line work in the designers version in my opinion is too thin and would most certainly bleed or blur together for a viewer with less than perfect eyesight and worse while being screen printed on a three dimensional object or on paper. The Microsoft version simply broadens the lines to eleviate future issues. I do agree, it needs to carry more color.

  14. And what is the equivalent to a one pixel line in the real world (everything not in a computer monitor)?

  15. Sorry, but are those two logos that dissimilar? From what I can see here, the thin line is just thicker, giving more separation to the shapes.

    And why does the logo need to be redrawn per scale? Again, I’m not seeing any eyes following me around the room illusions built into that cross… Is it just bs?

  16. The thin lines look good, but…

    When you render the logo in print, then can you know the exact thickness of the gap between the 2 shapes?

    What if this logo is on a very big billboard? What should be the thickness of the gap? Is it still “1 pixel”?

  17. I have feeling the gap on MS version is to make it consistent with the typeface gap. But I prefer the pentagram’s angle

  18. Why should Microsoft listen to a design studio they possibly paid millions to? If the studio came up with something interesting but Microsoft likes it better when tweaked, then why not? It’s their product. Especially if it makes it more practical to use in print and larger typefaces?

  19. NO don’t follow Pentagram’s design!!!

    the thickness of the cross has to be PROPORTIONAL to the rest of the logo

    Do you really think that people printing out windows logos on signs and stuff care to make sure the width of the cross is fixed width? no! They’re just going to resize it in photoshop, (they aren’t going to do a redraw), and then your whole fixed width philosophy goes out the window! So besides everything printed directly by Microsoft using fixed width, the logo will look different every time someone else prints it and doesn’t follow fixed width rules. I bet Microsoft themselves would have trouble enforcing their own employees to use fixed width rules when printing materials. And how about on websites, everyone just resizes things in photoshop, no one pays attention to fixed width rules!

    A logo should be able to look the same no matter how big you blow it up, or shrink it down.

    If the cross is 1 pixel wide on your laptop, is it going to be 1 pixel wide on your cell phone too? Is it going to be 1 pixel wide on a massive billboard? What is the width of “fixed width” anyway? There has to be consistency and proportional to the rest of the logo or else it’s going to look different at different sizes.

  20. Another reason why fixed width doesn’t work is THUMBNAILS… if you display a thumbnail image that has the windows logo in it, that thumbnail will have been scaled down and no longer fixed width, so it will look terrible.

    Just think about searching for the windows logo in google images, all the logos will be in thumbnails, and they’ll look horrible.

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