Co.Design

The New Windows 8 Logo Arrives, Trailed By Pirates And Haters

Chinese hackers. Classified designs. It’s not the next Mission Impossible plot. It’s the new Windows 8 logo. We speak with its designer, Paula Scher.

Last week, the new Windows 8 logo leaked online. Meanwhile, the logo’s designer, Paula Scher at Pentagram, could only sigh. The dimensions were off, and it wasn’t even in the right color. Her work for one of the world’s largest brands was already being skewered, but it wasn’t even the right work.

“Someone took a picture of a logo or made a stamping,” Scher tells us. “Some Chinese website leaked it. They put up the wrong form, wrong type size, etc.”

Not expecting to make the logo announcement until the February 26, Pentagram rushed to assemble their full vision, coupled with the proper logo. You can read that here.

Much like the updated vision for the Science Channel, Microsoft’s new logo wasn’t built solely for stagnant publishing, but to be dynamic across electronic mediums. “Things we got rid of are things that people in the tech industry think it needs to have—gradient color and gee-whiz sparkle,” laments Scher. “That’s in our animation. But you can’t really give a design lecture in a Chinese website leak.”

So here’s that lecture, abridged: The Windows 8 logo stems directly from the Windows Metro design philosophy, with the UI’s tiles reinterpreted as panes of a window drawn in perspective. The four-color flag is dead, as it would inevitably clash with Metro’s flexible color design. And as for the blue? “It’s not blue very often,” says Scher. “It can be iterative of whatever is going on. Blue is like a black placeholder, I guess.”

Even the “Windows 8” isn’t really part of the logo, not in Scher’s eyes. That typography was supplied by Microsoft’s Metro team. “All we did, big picture and little picture, was recommend a very simple approach to bringing the logo back to a window and letting it function as a window in its behavior.” A viewer will actually look through the window at colors and content, just like Metro. Their goal is that you recognize the window without any typography at all.

“When you do something simple … it seems like there’s nothing going on,” says Scher. “But you have to think about that, as a designer. If you create something too complex, it destroys the ability to make complex things with it.”

Whether you hate the new logo or love it (or find yourself completely apathetic), Scher’s perspective is a perfect complement to the Metro design philosophy, a philosophy that eschews icons altogether while proclaiming that content is king. The way I see it, the logo isn’t meant as a statement unto itself, but a (literal and figurative) window to a statement none of us has seen just yet.

As for Scher, she seems to be keeping her cool amidst the controversy. “I had this thing happen once before for the New York Philharmonic,” she says. “For some reason, everyone hated the logo. It’s years later. This lives and breathes. I can’t imagine having the same response to it now. "

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42 Comments

  • Maksim

    Whenever I see that logo - a window manufacturing company pops to mind. I guess real windows will always be superior to virtual ones?

  • Howard Stein

    I have yet to see the logo in action, but I am always intrigued with Paula Scher's thought process. She has a fine and floating instinct that will be one of the primary drivers of the future of identity design.

  • Scott Barnes c[×┬õ]כ

    There is to much over-reach going on with metro... it lacks density and if you're doing a boutique software company that may or may not work. Microsofts culture is constantly adding density to everything, this logo is an example of overreaching and pandering to the client vs pandering to the vision.

  • Hans Koevoet

    Going minimalistic can be great, like Apple showed us a number of years ago by dropping the rainbow pattern in its logo. But it can also go totally wrong, like now Pentagram an MS are showing us. The new logo is not witty, it is not vibrant, it shows flatness even though it is supposed to show perspective. When I turn it 90 degrees clockwise, I see a tennis yard and a very thin Christian cross.

  • Larry Miller

    Paula Scher is a great designer. Has been such far as I know, since Columbia Records LP covers' days. I saw a large version of this logo. It has odd awkwardnesses that confuse me. The perspective seems off. There are crossed white lines (making a + sign by the way). The vertical line which should be heavier looks lighter, which is also awkward. And the words "Windows 8" does not constitute typography (at which she is an expert) but typing. Note the Wi and wordspace.) All I've seen is the flat graphic. It may be that this graphic device, like a symphony's slow movement, like a quiet, elongated scene in a movie, is merely a set-up for the action that follows, such as online animation.

    I have faith. 

  • SRS sage

    What markets Microsoft best right now is experiencing their interface on a Nokia smartphone (lumia). This "too simple" logo might actually be too overwrought. Bear with me for a moment: the actual interface is clean, edge-to-edge, and less condescending than apple's precedent - the product is its own selling point. 

    The best logo is one that communicates that strength. This logo is about two iterations shy of nailed: nix the text, take away the hokey perspective, and you've got a robust symbol. It may seem overly boring at first, but in fact could become a visual touchstone with those tweaks. 

    (Microsoft, let me know when you want to hire me.)

  • Nick

    This isn't a simple logo... this is a logo who's complexity is without interest. Perspective doesn't make it more like a window than a simple arrangement of 4 boxes... 

    Real simplicity would be owning the "window" concept and going with just that. Not adding any gimmick at all. 

  • Phill Clegg

    I understand there the designer is coming from with the concept and I applaud their persistence!    

  • thisisgrey

    I bet that in 5 or 10 years Microsoft is going to come back and beat Apple financially and in terms of coolness

  • Csaba

    I'm sure making the logo more dynamic will only improve it as so far it is really poor. Just as the logo of New York Philharmonic.

  • umd

    But how come Pentagram can't come out of the clutches of 4 boxes if not one! Or is that the brief you had to work with! But even then Pentagram can influence the client to re-write the brief with reasons beyond the client's expectations. Still WINDOWS doesn't reach the DOOR step of a Mac! :)

  • Prachi Chaudhari

    Simple, Friendly and Practical, I think this logo come closer to what Windows is and has been for a long time. The earlier Flag logo was good, we all loved it, accepted it and I think it has had its time. Also, having the Metro Design Language come in it seems like a right time to have a brand New Logo.

  • rpk

    I'll recognize this logo anywhere I go. No matter whether it's green or blue or black. It's beauty lies in its simplicity and flexibility. This logo does what it needs to do and then some. 

    I don't think it's the most beautiful logo I've ever seen, but I think it will succeed where lots of very aesthetically pleasing logos fail. Props to Scher and Pentagram.