Microsoft is doing a lot of new stuff this year with its new Surface tablet computer, new Windows 8 operating system, Windows Phone 8, a new Office suite and Windows Server 2012. But the company decided it didn't have enough new stuff so it introduced a set of new logos for the corporation and many of its products.
The new Microsoft logo is the first update to it in 25 years, wrote Jeff Meisner, general manager for brand strategy at Microsoft, in a blog post Aug. 23.
Along with the new computer and smartphone OSes, the Office update as well as new Xbox services "you will see a common look and feel across these products providing a familiar and seamless experience on PCs, phones, tablets and TVs," Meisner wrote.
The corporate logo has two components, he explained, the logotype and the symbol. The logotype is the word "Microsoft," which he said is written in the Segoe font, the same font that Microsoft uses on its products as well as in all of its marketing communications. The symbol is made up of four squares that are blue, red, green and yellow. Together, the four squares resemble a window frame, a symbol that has been used in various iterations to brand the Windows OS.
Like nearly all companies, Microsoft trademarks its logos and news organizations and others have to agree to abide by specific terms of service before they can download logos for use in their publications. Microsoft also closely guards its logo assets. The Segoe font, for instance, is not available as a choice in the pull down menu for fonts in Microsoft Word.
The company also unveiled a new logo for Windows 8, the operating system being released Oct. 26. And when Microsoft unveiled the consumer preview of the new Office suite of productivity applications July 16, Office also sported a new logo.
The new logos are intended to "signal the heritage [of Microsoft] but also signal the future-a newness and freshness," said Jeff Hansen, Microsoft's general manager of brand strategy, in an interview with the Seattle Times.
The article is accompanied on the paper's Web site with an online poll inviting readers to vote for their favorite among five logos Microsoft has used since it began in 1975.
Microsoft retail stores in Seattle and Bellevue, Wash., as well as a new store opened Aug. 23 in Boston, are the first of the stores to bear the new logos.
The urge to portray the new logos and new products as signaling the "future" of Microsoft is important to a company that has gone through a rough patch as well. Microsoft was the subject of an unflattering portrait in the August issue of Vanity Fair magazine titled "Microsoft's Lost Decade." The article depicted Microsoft as a company that has become large and bureaucratic and as a result missed several important trends in technology such as search, mobile, tablet computers, e-books and social networking.
The article depicts Steve Ballmer, who's been CEO during that lost decade, as the senior executive who led the company astray.