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.
Nine teams from the new Ignite100 accelerator based in the North East of the UK, which launched with a £1m fund that invests up to £100k per team – are presenting to investors in London today. Their own descriptions of themselves are below:
“ArtSpotter is a female-led London based startup creating an interactive art map that allows users to discover and interact with what’s going on in the art world, wherever they are. Dubbed “Foursquare meets Timeout for the art world”, users can not only see what’s going on near them, but also add to the map as they discover new spaces and art. For the galleries it now gives them the ability to have a better insight into who visited which exhibition, when, where else they went, where they’re from, etc. Now the art world has a way to engage beyond the paper map.” Previously covered on TechCrunch here.
“Contemporary consumerism is shifting toward the ‘Experience Economy’ where people want to ‘do’ rather than ‘have’. Blink Collective is an online global community where anyone can offer their skills, knowledge or services as an authentic, ‘non guidebook’ experience. Listings on the website are curated and user-generated. Bookings are managed by Hosts via the website and reviews offer trust and social proof. We solve a marketing problem for small businesses and offer a unique platform for individuals to monetize their passions. The market opportunity is significant. In 2010 UK residents spent £44 billion on day trips and niche sectors such as eagle watching in Scotland generated £8 million. Founder Peter Kindness has four years travel community start-up experience, 16 years business experience, is a European Business graduate and has lived in seven different countries. He’s supported by a developer, a sales executive and an online social media and PR specialist.”
“90% of people never engage with content-rich websites beyond reading an article or watching a video. Many will discuss the content they consume elsewhere on the internet, in forums and via their social graph. Blooie is a random chat platform that works with the publishers of content-rich websites and converts passive consumers into actively engaged users, with content acting as a prompt to the discussion. The data generated allows content providers to monitor real-time trends in conversation and content.”
“CrowdIPR is an online network of technology and intellectual property experts that utilizes the collective knowledge of its members to provide easily accessible and affordable IP services. The platform enables crowdsourced patent and technology searches as well as trademark and design searches. The services are targeted at startup companies, universities and patent firms. The team brings together experience from the fields of intellectual property, marketing, business development and software engineering. Mikk is an Estonian patent attorney, an active IP blogger and the founder of an IP professionals’ network IPInsiders. Taavet is a software engineer with 9 years of experience and has previously founded and ran a software development agency. Taavi has previously co-founded a new media marketing agency and headed a business consulting unit. Our vision is to improve the effectiveness of the intellectual property system by introducing crowdsourced IP services to the mainstream market.”
“Givey is a social giving platform that currently lets you give to over 6000 UK charities instantly via SMS and Twitter. We have 20,000 US non-profits ready to integrate and 20,000 unregistered charities vetted by CFN ready to integrate Q1 2012. We launched with the Prime Minister David Cameron and Nick Hurd MP in May 2011 at the Giving White Paper Launch. We are aiming to be the world’s largest donation platform by January 2014. We believe that through making giving FUN with Mobile, Social Donations and Real-Time Feedback, Givey will provide the platform to explosively drive much needed innovation in the archaic Third Sector. With £750 Million currently being lost in unclaimed Gift Aid this problem alone requires an immediate solution and Givey is ready to provide it.”
“Odimax™ is the first of its kind end-to-end Social Media Intelligence Suite that enables marketing and PR agencies to manage all their social media activity from a single platform leading them to actionable strategies. Odimax™ is the first to provide industry benchmarking metrics such as Brand Health Score and Brand Equity as well as offering key functionalities like crisis management. This makes Odimax™ not only progressive in the field of social media intelligence but also unique. Odimax™ aspires to be the partner of choice in the field of social media intelligence systems. The Odimax™ team consists of its founding members Atal Malviya, Punam Sandal and Sandy George who are supported by key advisors Tim Rea and Di Gates. The team consists of a well balanced mix of technical, commercial and strategic expertise.”
“PinorPeg started from the idea of curating the tremendous number of products that are available online. We believe that online shopping should be personalized for each user and products should be recommended by consumers. That’s why PinorPeg started building a tool that can deliver the best suggestions for everyone. It’s like Amazon meets Quora, where you have the strength of ecommerce recommendations combined with the power of social curation by a community. Users create their own profile, refine it by adding products they like and follow users with similar interests. The site then creates shopping profiles for users in order to deliver the best suggestions possible.”
“There are more than 25, 000 independent small and medium car rental businesses in the EU alone, all competing with just 10 main international car rental companies who control 70% of the entire car rental market. These independent car rental companies are losing customers every day due to their weak internet presence. We have created a solution – RentMama! RentMama aims to revolutionise the car rental market by uniting small and medium-sized independent car rental businesses and providing them with a simple tool that allows renters to discover more flexible and personalised deals to suit their needs. We provide a user friendly internet platform to car renters, which allows for a more flexible and personal service from their local independent car rental businesses. All of us have great experience in our individual fields of expertise, as well as a highly skilled IT development team supporting us.”
“Usable builds exceptionally usable online project management tools. We want to change the way people think about projects, stop projects failing, and save companies time and money. Usable’s first product, Usable Requirements, is a powerful yet easy-to-use tool that makes teams focus on what their project really is. Requirements is an innovative application that enables every stakeholder in a project to communicate and collaborate around a set of requirements that will then keep goals at the centre of the project, eliminate “scope creep”, and drive day-to-day tasks. Alex, Alistair and Chris joined forces in 2011 to form Usable after meeting in Newcastle a few years ago. We all have a long history of software application development and project management in a variety of fields.”