"We're not done until we've checked all the boxes"

Tom Warren, reporting for The Verge:

One key part that Microsoft has focused on recently is bridging the app gap with rival platforms. Belfiore explained on stage at the company's Windows Phone 8 event that it now has 46 out of the top 50 apps from rival platforms. "The four I would say that are missing that count as the top 50 are Instagram, Viber, Pinterest, and Wells Fargo," says Belfiore. "If you look broadly at download numbers and usage and engagement those are the ones for us are top priority."

Some may argue — us included — that there are many more top apps missing, but Belfiore insists the company is being aggressive about landing the remainder. "We're actively working on everything. From our perspective we're going to keep working with everybody who has got a meaningful app." Microsoft isn't taking no for an answer when it comes to reaching out to these top developers. "We are going to keep coming back. You might get one answer today, you might get another answer later," he says. "We're not done until we've checked all the boxes."

Belfiore's insistence is reminiscent of the early days of the Xbox. Vastly outgunned by Sony and Nintendo, Microsoft remained persistent and steeled itself against losses. Eventually, following a contentious and hard-fought battle, Microsoft has emerged as the leader in the gaming industry.

Of course, success with a home entertainment system certainly doesn't translate to the mobile phone industry, but it provides a glimmer of precedent hope for Microsoft in the mobile space.

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.