Jun 19, 2008

Microsoft Windows - Name and Logo Analysis

Rediff had a feature today on the "Success story called Microsoft". Microsoft windows and its logo being the two things which we see/use almost everyday, and using it for the past 13 years, made me analyze the name and logo of the famous product. Idhai padichittu "enna, room pottu yosicheengalA"nnu ellam kEkkakoodathu.. Edho, ennoda ninaivalaigaL:

Microsoft's operating system, Windows, is the leader in the world's personal computer market. Contrary to the uniqueness of the name of the company, its most important product has bored a very simple and common name. Unlike its rivals which chose unconventional and hi-tech names for their operating systems (for instance, Unix and Mac OS), Microsoft chose a simplistic name for its product, probably to compensate for the fairly technical name of the company, unlike its rivals which had simple names (for example, Sun, Apple).

Similar to the way windows in homes are used for viewing the outside world, the operating system enables access to the vast space of the cyberworld. Turning the computer on is virtually like opening a window to see the world. Moreover, the operation of a computer is invariably accompanied by bright light of the monitor, comparable to opening windows at home letting sunlight, or brightness in. Windows protect the home from the attacks of bugs, and other harmful insects, and keeping that name for a product indicates protection of the computer from possible outside attack. Thus, there cannot arguably be a better word to symbolically describe the product than ‘Windows’.

Just as the name, the logo for Windows is a four panel window, with a different color for each panel. The earliest versions (3.x series) had a normal, simple window that seems to have either flown from the left or wavered or gradually disintegrated into smaller pieces. The panels were uniformly filled with the different colors. Windows 95’s boot logo, logo which appears when the computer starts, showed a colorful and unambiguously wavering window, usually at the backdrop of a blue sky with scattered clouds. The wavering/flying window was a welcome change from the placid one used for the earlier version. The moving image firmly helped the consumers remember and retain the rectangular colorful panel as the logo of windows in their mind.

When the version XP was introduced at the dawn of the new century, it didn’t have the black frame of the window and the tailing dots. It was undoubtedly more elegant without the negative shade of the dark frame. Moreover, the colors were lighter, fluorescent, and this time, the wavering is exemplified by the curvy panels and the lines of lighter hue running straight down the panels. That they are off the ground is shown by the grey shadows beneath the panels. The most recent version, Windows Vista, is very similar to its previous one, except for a circle of brightness, centered at the point where all the four panels meet. This makes a graded color contrast diagonally across the panels. This contrast further adds to the beauty of the logo. It creates an illusion as though there is Sun right behind the window and its brightness has seeped into the window panels.

The choice of colors for the four panels is interesting. They are red, green, blue and yellow. The first three colors are called the primary colors of vision. Mixing them in various proportions produces all the colors of the world. They, along with yellow, constitute what are called ‘opponent colors’, according to the Theory of Colors. The intricacies of the theory are beyond the scope of this essay, but, in essence, the theory says that these are the four colors that the human eye would be able to differentiate to the fullest extent. Interestingly, the cyclic order in which these colors are stacked in a rectangle is the same way they appear on the Windows logo. The various cells responsible for vision in the eye process red-green and blue-yellow differences. By pairing exactly the same set of colors, Microsoft has made the logo look aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

The text accompanying the icon has also undergone considerable change. The earliest version had Microsoft and Windows written with the same type and size of font. It was essential, since the product was new and it had to be properly introduced and familiarized to the consumers. Once the people became aware of the company Microsoft and the logo, the size of Microsoft in the logo gradually decreased. Nearly all of the targeted audience would have certainly come across the logo either as a user or an owner of the product. Thus, for the latest ‘Windows Vista’, it was necessary to add the company’s name at all – the case of a product proudly speaking on behalf of its developers.

Windows is unarguably the most purchased product of any kind in the history of mankind. The success of such phenomenal scale was possible by a combination of factors, such as simplicity of the software, its user-friendliness, smart advertising tactics, and constant upgrading for improvisation. Not surprisingly, all these qualities can be said of the logo as well.

Jun 13, 2008


The most eagerly awaited movie of recent times is here at last. With Kamal donning 10 unique roles, and several of their identities having been kept secretly, the major curiosity was about how Kamal is going to surprise us on the screen. Also, there was this big question of the justification of all the 10 roles. Kamal has done a splendid job as an actor most of the time, and as a script writer, not that much. I would say that I wasnt enthralled about everything after the movie; it has its share of high moments and a few low ones as well.
The movie begins with Govind (Kamal 1) sharing the dais with Karunanidhi, Manmohan Singh and George Bush (Kamal 2) in Chennai and delivering an intense, though visually distracted speech on bioterrorism and saving the earth, and makes a reference to the 12th century, when Saiva-Vaishnava conflict was at its peak in South India. Rangaraja Nambi (Kamal 3) attempts to stop Kulothunga Cholan-II (Nepoleon) from removing the deity of Lord Vishnu from the famous Govindaswamy temple of Chidambaram. He also refuses to convert to Saivism. Both these acts anger Nepoleon, who orders Kamal to be tied to the deity and dumped into the Bay of Bengal.
Back to the 21st century, in Philadelphia, Govind is a biotechnologist, specialized in virology. He works in a private company which expertises in biological weapons. Govind and his colleagues have just invented a deadly airborne virus which attracts some bad elements to the company for a lucrative deal with some high authorities. Kamal finds about it just in time and takes away the capsule in which the virus is stored and fleds. The bad elements employ Christian Fletcher (Kamal 4), a former CIA agent to retrieve the capsule from Govind. Then begins the cat-and-mouse game, which brings all the players to Tamil Nadu. The other six characters of Kamal intersect this deadly game, which proceeds with a lot of blood spills before culminating in a gargantuan climax involving Tsunami.
The first half of the movie has one of the most fast-paced screenplays in Tamil films. Too many things happen so quickly that even the songs dont have the usual decelerating effect. The characters are well-etched and the story takes us through 12th century Chidambaram, modern Philadelphia and Washington DC, Japan and India. The second half drags in comparison to that and reduces the slickness of the movie. Asin's character is a huge letdown since she is downright irritating after the melodious and sweet 'Mukunda' song. She is the weaklink in the movie, and in the end, one cant but feel that her character could be done away with. The 'romance' between Kamal and Asin is the worst I have seen in any Kamal movies.
The role of Rangarajan Nambi is the most intense among all, though Balram Naidu role as the RAW officer wins the best of 10 avtars. He is so hilarious, with some very funny lines and body language. Fletcher comes next best, whereas the 'lighthouse' Khalifa is the least impressive, followed by the Japanese guy. Also, on the Avtar Singh show, the big question is, how come a Punjabi singer gets such a rousing reception and crowd in Chennai? Amazing how Kamal could appear very tall and quite short (the 'paatti' role). After the initial excitement of seeing Kamal in different roles fades away, we get engrossed in the proceedings of the movie, treating as though the various roles are played by different actors.
Though the story is quite weak, there are some intelligent and brilliant scenes throughout the movie, which challenge our grey matter. My favorite scenes are: the appearance of hawk when Rangarajan Nambi is tortured, a butterfly flying in some scenes (Butterfly effect), Bush's question ("What is NaCl?") and the next few seconds, a scientist's remark on NaCl ("I cant explain you more than NaCl for this stuff in Tamil"), his stand on faith ("I am not saying that God is not there, but I'm saying that it would be good if God is there"). Also, there is a lot of thinking process that has gone into naming and characterizing the Indian roles. e.g., 'Boovaraghan' is a dark-skinned (probably pork-eating) Dalit activist whose quest is to save the land (sand); 'Avtar' Singh is a singer who gets a new avtar (lease of life) after narrowly escaping from the jaws of death. And the shorter-statured 'paatti' steps onto people's shoulders before committing an act that would save the state.
The songs, as I mentioned earlier, dont have much impact on the movie, so Himesh Reshammiya's efforts appear to neither strengthen nor weaken the script. Technically it is superb, though the camera appears to move too fast in many scenes, leading to blurred images. Also, the link between the events of the 12th century and the current time is hard to see, which makes the initial episode stand aloof. (Though one can say that 'religious conflict' is the common factor, it subtly portrayed).
Dasavathaaram is a visual treat, and is breathtaking in several scenes. Had the story been little solid, it would have done full justice to all the hype and the money spent.