Home No, It’s Not a Scottish Flag… It’s the New Windows 8 Logo!

No, It’s Not a Scottish Flag… It’s the New Windows 8 Logo!

It will take some getting used to. Okay, I take that back: No, it won’t. The official explanation from Microsoft this afternoon for its design choice for the new Windows 8 logo – a white cross on a tilted blue rectangle – is that the logo wanted to return to its origins and stop being a flag.

“If you look back to the origins of the logo you see that it really was meant to be a window,” writes Microsoft user experience director Sam Moreau this afternoon. ” “‘Windows’ really is a beautiful metaphor for computing and with the new logo we wanted to celebrate the idea of a window, in perspective.”

Granted, the four-color motif was starting to look a little dated, and newcomers to computing were wondering why Microsoft was borrowing from the Google Chrome logo. But growing up among graphic art as I did, and also speaking as someone with a bit of Scottish heritage, it’s hard for me not to wonder whether the new Windows 8 logo falls short in several key respects. First of all, it’s a classic Nordic Cross flag, still flown today over Shetland Province in Scotland.

It’s also the flag of the French city of Calais, of the Estonian city of Pärnu, the former flag of Iceland, and the flag flown by some ships of the Greek Navy.

Moreau credits the design team of Pentagram with the new Windows logo concept. Last year, out of necessity (because it no longer contained 11 members), the Big Ten athletic conference signed Pentagram to redesign its logo. The result emphasized the number “10,” even though the conference now has twelve members with the addition of the University of Nebraska. Graphic designer Nick Conflitti called that design an “epic fail,” asking why the conference would want to “bash it over our brains twice” that it really doesn’t have ten members.

The previous year, when Pentagram redesigned the North Carolina Museum of Art logo by styling the words completely out of blocks and curved wedges, its hometown’s Web site was besieged by protest comments. Said one, “It is just evocative of the more hideous examples of late ’60s through mid-’70s architecture. It reminds me of all those concrete buildings with arrow-slit windows that popped up on college campuses all over the state during that time.”

Added Microsoft’s Moreau about the work Pentagram produced for Windows 8, “It was important that the new logo carries our Metro principle of being ‘Authentically Digital.’ By that, we mean it does not try to emulate faux-industrial design characteristics such as materiality (glass, wood, plastic, etc.). It has motion – aligning with the fast and fluid style you’ll find throughout Windows 8.”

Years ago, Microsoft told me that after the development team met one of its early milestones and the campus celebrated, they hoisted a flag of the existing Windows logo – which looked at that time like a sideways cinder-block – over Redmond headquarters. Someone, perhaps Bill Gates, said the logo should become a flag and represent all colors of the computing spectrum. It’s interesting that the company should heed an outsider’s advice and discard that important symbology.

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