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.