Over the past 37 years, Microsoft has used a variety of logos to represent its flagship product, Microsoft Windows. We’ll take a look at each of the major releases, as the design has evolved through the ages.
Before we begin our journey down memory lane, it’s important to note that during our research, we discovered dozens of minor variations of the Windows logo used in print, advertising, software, retail packaging , etc. We’re going to group together the main shapes and themes that Microsoft has used for the Windows logo over time.
The Mosaic Window: 1985-1989
At first, Windows didn’t really have a logo. Artwork, splash screens, and advertisements for Windows 1.0 (1985) and 2.0 (1987) typically used the “Microsoft Windows” wordmark in a special font, with no particular icon next to it. But in recent years, Microsoft has discovered a rarely used logo from the Windows 1.x and 2.x era with an unsymmetrical four-panel design (top, above) evoking Windows’ different tiled window sizes 1.0, which filled the screen but did not overlap.
In a blog post from 2012, Microsoft’s Sam Moreau cited this design as “the original Windows logo”, but in practice it was rarely used at the time. After searching, we only found a logo used at a Microsoft Windows development seminar held in 1986 and 1987, as well as a rare Windows box given out at that event. But the fact remains that he set the stage for things to come.
The Stark Window: 1990-1991
Like Windows 1.x and 2.x, Windows 3.0 (1990) primarily uses a word-based logo – seen above on the Windows 3.0 Welcome screen to the right. “With Windows 3.0, there was no standard Windows logo,” said Brad Silverberg, Microsoft’s vice president in charge of Windows at the time. “Each marketing group, sales group or trade event was doing its own. Sometimes one of them was reused, but there was no standard. »
Some Windows app retail boxes also used an early illustration of a window with heavy gradients on some products to indicate compatibility with Windows 3.0 (see above left.) This is the first appearance of what is clearly a metaphor for a house window, with four panes set in a thick border. This is a design motif that has remained associated with Windows in various forms to this day.
The Windows Flag: 1990-1993
Windows 3.1 gave Microsoft a facelift in 1992 by introducing a dynamic new logo that took up the tile pattern but turned it into a waving flag with a trail behind it. Four colors (red, green, blue and yellow) fill the panes of this window flag, while the undulating trail splits into distinct blocks, perhaps suggesting distinct digital units of information.
Former Microsoft Vice President Brad Silverberg recounted the origins of the famous flag logo to How-To Geek: “I had a feeling [l’absence d’un logo Windows standard à l’époque de la version 3.0] was a huge missed opportunity, and that we had to create a new logo and impose it everywhere. I asked the systems marketing group to develop a new one. They brought in outside designers, introduced me to the finalists, and I chose the now-iconic Windows flag. It’s still my favorite. It established the colors, the overall design, it has movement/dynamism, and it has lasted for decades. I wanted the logo to have some value and it worked! »
Microsoft also used this flag-shaped logo for Windows NT 3.1 (the very first version of NT) the following year.
The Waving Flag: 1994-2000
In 1994, Microsoft designers put a new spin on the Windows 3.1-era waving flag logo by tilting it slightly clockwise, suggesting movement and action. This new logo first appeared with Windows NT 3.5 in 1994, but quickly made its way to Windows 95, Windows NT 4.0 (1996), Windows CE (1996), Windows 98, Windows Me (2000) and Windows 2000 under different forms.
In particular, for the Me and 2000 logos, Microsoft added additional square window elements around the waving flag to give it a cooler look.
The simple flag: 2001-2011
With Windows XP in 2001, Microsoft reduced the idea of the waving flag to four simple colored panels fluttering in the wind. The similar colors remained in the panels, but the black border disappeared. With Windows Vista (2006), Microsoft gave the simple flag a new color gradient in the center and often placed it in a shaded bubble.
Windows 7 (2009) continued the Vista tradition with variations, and Windows Phone 7 (2010) used a pure white version of the simple flag placed in bubbles or squares.
The corner window: 2012-2020
With Windows 8 (2012), Microsoft went back to the drawing board for the Windows logo, ditching the waved flag design used in the past and making the four panes look like a house window again, but placed at an angle. The austere design of the new logo also deliberately reflects Windows 8’s “Metro” interface, which includes app panels (tiles) instead of icons.
The new angled window logo also appeared in Windows RT (2012), Windows Phone 8 (2012), some versions of Windows Embedded Compact, Windows 8.1 (2013), and Windows 10 (2015). However, there are some variations in the precise angles and size of the flaps between different versions.
The Grid Window: From 2021 to Today
Now we come to our time with Windows 11, which Microsoft launched in 2021. For the Windows 11 logo, Microsoft got rid of the angle and went with a simple grid of four squares rendered in blue. In fact, it was inspired by the Microsoft logo (first introduced in 2012), which currently has the same shape but in the four traditional Windows colors (red, green, blue, yellow).
In a Microsoft promotional video, Windows Brand Manager Vincent Joris said, “We looked at the Microsoft logo and turned it blue, which is the color people most associate with Windows. »
The new logo reflects the clean new design of Windows 11 while retaining the famous four-pane house window pattern that has been used for at least 22 years. We believe that as long as there is a Windows operating system, there will probably be a window somewhere in the logo.