Microsoft Unveils New Logo

Microsoft

Beyond the obvious commitment and adherence to the new Metro/Windows UI standards, the logo strikes me as somewhat ill-fitting for Microsoft as a whole.

Harking upon the traditional Windows logo — and, indeed, the Microsoft Store logo — the company seems to have cast its identity somewhat askew. The central confusion lies in the fact that Windows is but one product of Microsoft. Perhaps it’s one of Microsoft’s most well-known products, but that’s not to say that the product should characterize the entirety of the larger corporate entity.

When Microsoft introduced Metro several years ago, the company received unilateral praise for its courage to do something measurably different. Its confidence stoked by such plaudits, Microsoft embarked upon a path of wedging half-hearted and ill-fitting takes on the Metro UI standard into a great many of its assets. Regardless of the potential good that may come from Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, the design — as I’ve written in the past — is merely presented as another layer atop a quickly aging foundation.

Following this analogy, although the logo has shed its italicized aesthetic for a colorful Metro-centric look, it’s important to remember that Microsoft is still Microsoft. Steve Balmer remains at the helm, innovative elements of the company continue to be quashed, and the company has yet to make good on a great many of its promises for the future. I certainly hope Microsoft does attain all that it has set out to achieve, but any optimism I may hold is not derived from any “newness and freshness” of the logo.

The logo does indeed emphasize a different Microsoft, but the branding is immaterial without effective execution. Therein lies the true test of this logo, this brand, and this company for the years to come.

As an aside, for all of this — particularly the money spent — I simply wish Microsoft would’ve paid more attention to Mr. Andrew Kim earlier this year. That’s the type of branding that’d truly instill confidence and surprise in the technology world, not simply repurposing a composite of other product logos and traditional colors.

Metro UI Design Showcase

As the Windows 8 Consumer Preview rapidly slides through the pipes for many to test, John Gruber has drawn our attention to Mike Kruzeniski's personal weblog. A creative director for Microsoft, Kruzeniski has a rundown of his favorite Windows Phone 7 apps. Posted back in January, Kruzeniski writes:

Over the year I’ve kept an eye out for the apps that I think have done a great job using Metro as a starting point, and below are twelve of my favorites. All of them use the basic Windows Phone grid and controls, and have a Metro style to them, but each have their own distinct voice and personality. They aren’t black and white – they’re all colorful, playful, and vibrant.

Although I often praise Metro, I must say, I have rarely had a chance to have a look at some of the better looking apps. It's great to see developers truly experimenting with the Metro aesthetic.

Microsoft's "No Compromises" Mantra

Stephen Hackett:

Microsoft keeps using the phrase “No compromises” when talking about Windows 8. Thing is, Windows 8 seems full of compromises.

It's all a matter of perspective.

For Microsoft, Windows 8 lacks any potential pitfalls or compromises insofar as it provides both the new Metro UI and, beneath that, the traditional Explorer interface.

External from Microsoft (and the enterprise market), Metro is viewed as a fantastic and compelling user interface. As such, Metro's half-baked implementation in Windows 8 is perceived as a betrayal of its promise, or, in Microsoft's parlance, a "compromise."

The matter is, of course, not clear cut.

Windows is the dominant enterprise platform and, right or wrong, most enterprise software developers are not prepared to completely redefine their software for an entirely new design paradigm. In this respect, I feel that Microsoft's "no compromise" perspective is primarily a missive aimed at the enterprise market: "DON'T PANIC!"

For the consumer, on the other hand, Metro embodies the growing shift toward user-centric, attractive, and novel interactions with computing devices. Once viewed as endlessly complex, Metro offers a visual front-end that undercuts the stereotypes that have plagued Windows for years.

The problem is that the proposed implementation of Windows 8 is neither here nor there. It does not lend itself entirely to the consumer, nor does it position itself perfectly for the enterprise. Thus Windows 8 lies in an interesting middle ground -- a space that, contrary to Microsoft's marketing-speak, is unquestionably riddled with indecisive compromises.

Microsoft Shedding the Traditional Desktop for Windows 8 ARM Devices?

Mary Jo Folley:

Back in September, there was controversy as to whether Microsoft planned to allow “Desktop” (non-Metro) apps to run on Windows 8 ARM-based tablets. But I was told they would, and, indeed, the Softies and partners showed off the Desktop app on ARM tablets at the Build conference.

However, if my Windows Weekly co-host Paul Thurrott is right, Microsoft has rethought that plan and is leaning toward cutting the Desktop from Windows 8 ARM tablets. That would mean only Metro-style apps would be supported on that platform. (Thurrott just dropped that bomb while we were taping Windows Weekly on December 1.)

For the first time in memory, I certainly hope Mr. Thurrott is right.

John Gruber has argued that this would be the case since September, but although evidence has pointed towards it, there has been no semblance of official confirmation. An acknowledgment from Thurrott, however, is very close to an unofficial one.

I have long argued that Microsoft needs to reassess its attitude toward Windows, and shedding the traditional desktop for Metro UI is undoubtedly a step in the right direction.

With rumors suggesting the arrival of a Windows 8 beta in late February, let's hope Microsoft listens to reason.

(Via TheVerge)