Microsoft unveils new logo, signals the future by clinging even more tightly to the past
Microsoft's new corporate logo has updated their corporate logo for the first time in 25 years and... it looks more like a Windows logo than a Microsoft logo. As a Windows logo, it would be brilliant. Clean, square, solid, and Microsoft's new logotype, Segoe, is really nice. It's so nice, it could easily stand alone without the Windows logo next to it. And they really should have let it.
But alas, that's seemingly not to be. Microsoft and Steve Ballmer have let the Windows brand permeate its way even into the corporate logo. It's almost as though there really nothing to Microsoft's aspirations beyond Windows anymore. And that's disappointing.
It's not like the Windows brand is the only thing Microsoft has to offer. I spoke about this at length already in my piece on the Surface. It's been around since the 90s. It's not fresh or sexy anymore. It's been on beige boxes in cubicles forever, it's been the butt of BSOD jokes for what feels like an eternity, and it's carried now like a cangue around the neck of every next-generation phone and tablet and computer Microsoft intends to sell. (How Xbox managed to escape being called WindowsBox we'll likely never know, but I'm extremely happy it did.)
Conversely, the iPhone by itself now generates more money than all of Microsoft, and yet Apple treats it as a product, not as the company. Apple didn't call the iPhone the MacPhone or OS X Phone. And Apple would never redesign their logo to ditch the fruit and have an iPhone silhouette as their logo.
I've said this before but it bears repeating -- one of the greatest dangers for any company, even one as big as Microsoft, is to mistake their product for their business. Every product goes through cycles, through ups and downs, thought periods of being hot and periods of being decidedly not. Windows was on fire in the mid 90s, again in the early 2000s, but it took a huge hit with Windows Mobile and Windows Vista. If it ever tanks badly, Microsoft needs other things to take its place.
This does the opposite of that.
Windows should be one blade in an ever-increasing arsenal by Microsoft. It should be what was, but not what will only ever be. Just like iTunes, iPod, iPhone, and iPad, despite their success, remain beneath the core Apple brand. Microsoft's CEO seems intent on letting Windows subsume the entirety of Microsoft's identity, and that might just be why they've not yet managed to grow beyond it, despite decades of trying.
Ballmer, let the Windows go. Let it be the desktop and server OS, and limit it to that. Let the phone be the Xphone. Let the tablet be the Surface. Let Microsoft be known for more than one great thing. Only that will truly signal a future for Microsoft.