29th July 2015 Design 0 comments

Today is the launch of Microsoft Windows 10. The latest in 3 decades of iterations of the world’s most popular operating system. With it comes a new logo brand and personality. 

To celebrate, let’s take a look at the evolution of the Microsoft logo through the ages...

Over the past few years, the fast, dynamic Apple has been creeping in. Microsoft started to lose traction with the young, cool, consumer tech crowd. But Microsoft has managed to rejuvenate its perception, retaining its B2B following but also reinventing itself for a new audience of consumers.

One thing is for sure, branding, marketing and PR have played a key part in the war of the desktop. The logo has been a centre piece in this strategy.

Windows 1 & 2

1985

Developed by Bill Gates himself. The original windows OS was a predecessor to the text based MS-DOS. You could say that this was the synergy of graphics and computing.

Interestingly, the logo bears a striking resemblance to the latest Windows 8/10 logos and colours. It certainly seems like design trends have gone full circle.

Windows 3

1990

5 years on saw the next major release and logo change. It was the first successful rival to Apple 's Macintosh and the Commodore Amiga. As graphics technology improved (Windows now supporting 16 colours) the logo was redesigned. With 5 colours now in use, Windows was a much brighter place.

Windows 95

1995

A significant leap in technological advancement with a further leap in design and GUI. The first thing you notice is the switch from Serif to Sans-serif in 1995. This projects a softer, less serious attitude. Previously a predominately business product, this was Microsoft’s attempt at targeting the home market.

Windows 98

1998

The 95 logo stood the test of time and was updated for Windows 98. The GUI also didn’t change much with most of the changes being backend hardware and networking improvements.

Windows 2000

2000

With growing demand for software, Microsoft split the Windows offering into multiple products. (Server versions and home/business desktop). This called for new identities. The typeface remained similar to previous versions with a touch of colour and tip of the hat to the famous start icon.

Windows ME

2000

Aimed directly at the individual consumer with its “Me” name. Windows Millennium Edition’s objective was to put more computers in homes. The OS saw significant advances in multimedia. The centrepiece of the logo remains unchanged but with more styling and colouring. Windows ME was only around for a short while though before the next major release.

Windows XP

2001

The first significant change was to the naming convention. No longer being tied to specific dates gave it a longer market shelf life. We saw a big leap in visuals with the Windows bliss background and a colourful user interface. The typeface lost some weight and the “Windows” icons were updated to include depth. This was a successful release with 1 billion copies sold worldwide.

Windows Vista

2006

With a strong foothold in the market, the word Microsoft was ditched from the logo. Despite its flaws, Windows Vista was the first logo that really took typography seriously. They designed their own font called Segoe which is really clean and elegant whilst still innovative. The OS took on a more luxurious feel with deep colours and simplistic lines. Despite its impressive visuals, the Operating system was widely criticised, giving Apple OSX the gap it needed to break through.

Windows 7

2009

Despite its problems, Microsoft wasn’t able to get the successor to Vista out for nearly 3 years. Dubbed an incremental upgrade, it was intended to address the previous issues. The Aero interface was much improved and provided great advances in how software was controlled with a GUI. The logo stayed much the same but the shorter word count gave it a simpler, lighter feel. A warm welcome from the heavy, sluggishness of Vista. Windows 7 was a success and is the most popular Microsoft OS in use today.

Windows 8

2012

The bold move to flat design (or mono-colour design - removing all colours associated with the windows logo) was the biggest design change which was purely focused on consumers. They were lagging behind Apple, whose minimalism had basically catapulted them into a consumer luxury brand, Microsoft had to catch up. Unfortunately the OS couldn’t compete with the slickness of OSX and with the rise of the iPhone and iPad, Microsoft failed to convert loyal followers. It is safe to say, Windows 8 was another Vista.

Windows 10

2015

If Windows 8 was “another Vista” then Windows 10 is likely to be “another 7”. Hopefully addressing the issues of the previous release, it has been well received by critics. The logo goes even further to revitalise the MS image with flat design and minimalism. It sports a more streamlined version of Segoe and a more mature colour. I also love the fact that the first ever Icon for windows in the first logo is the closest to the current flat logo design.

The Future

2020

Microsoft has stated that Windows 10 is a major upgrade that is going to be around until 2020. With the “one product family” concept, Microsoft is clearly trying to develop “one OS to rule them all”. As a free upgrade for all Windows 7 and 8 users, we should see a lot more of the Windows 10 logo in future and for a long time.

It is hard to predict the design trends of the future but at the current velocity, could the new Windows logo of the future be even simpler? We will see but the icons above already started showing on Microsoft products.

Let's look back at those logos again...