The new image of Microsoft


Microsoft is changing its logo to the one you see above, the first change to its corporate and brand logo since 1987.

In explaining the new look, Jeff Hansen, Microsoft’s General Manager Brand Strategy, says the company’s wave of new product releases coming this year – notably the new Windows 8 operating system, currently in release preview – “represents a new era for Microsoft, so our logo should evolve to visually accentuate this new beginning.”

[…] The logo has two components: the logotype and the symbol. For the logotype, we are using the Segoe font which is the same font we use in our products as well as our marketing communications. The symbol is important in a world of digital motion (as demonstrated in the video.) The symbol’s squares of color are intended to express the company’s diverse portfolio of products.

It’s certainly a radical departure from the stark black italicized logotype introduced in 1987


In comparing the two, the difference in how I perceive Microsoft from these typographic representations is equally stark, with the new suggesting a softer ‘feel’ to a company that is finding a new way for itself in a contemporary world that’s very different indeed to the one in which it had a dominant, almost exclusive, place in 1987.

Hence, I suppose, the aggressive look of that italic black text with the chink in the ‘o.’

I did like this opinion of the new logo quoted in a Bloomberg report:

[…] The new logo is meant “to show that this isn’t your father’s Microsoft, and there is something fresh, but also familiar,” said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at market research firm Gartner Inc. It also helps to show Windows and Microsoft’s overall new design language, formerly known as Metro, are “relevant and aspirational to the market.”

Now that’s a contemporary look!

Related post:

I’d love to try the new Office Preview if I could get it installed


This concise comment on Microsoft’s Office Preview support forum says it all about the frustrations that many people including me have experienced in trying to install the free trial version of Office Customer Preview:

Hey Microsoft, make it simple yo……

Announced yesterday, Microsoft is making the trial universally available to anyone who cares to try it out and who has a suitable PC, and you’re in a country listed on your account page. Basically, any modern computer running Windows 7 or Windows 8 should be fine, even a netbook (details). Note you’ll need a Windows 7 edition at minimum to install this – neither Vista nor XP are supported.

It certainly looks the business with its three different editions:

    • Office 365 Home Premium – designed for families and consumers. This service also includes an additional 20 GB of SkyDrive storage and 60 minutes of Skype world minutes per month.
    • Office 365 Small Business Premium – designed for small businesses. This service also includes business-grade email, shared calendars, website tools and HD webconferencing.
    • Office 365 ProPlus – designed for enterprise customers who want advanced business capabilities and the flexibility to deploy and manage in the cloud.

CNET has a great hands-on review: Microsoft Office 2013: Everything you need to know (FAQ) (and there are many more already).

Great, I’m keen to kick the tyres, etc, so I logged in to my Windows Live account at the preview site last night and asked it to install away.

The installation was almost complete, according to the progress dialog, when up popped a window telling me I no longer had the required internet connection.


But I did! I was online. Clicking ‘Close’ terminated the installation.

I tried again. This time, a popup to tell me that “some sort of failure” had occurred.


Really helpful, Microsoft, thanks. So I went to the control panel and did a repair. Then I tried again. Repeat all of the above.

This morning I tried one more time. This time, a popup to tell me it couldn’t start the program.


Luckily I have a lot of patience and was learning some interesting things about the new Office install look-and-feel and the informal wording of error messages.

But I decided to uninstall everything via the control panel and try again clean, as it were. Another error popup disabused me of that notion with a warning that I’d need to repair my existing Office 2010 installation if I did that.


So I didn’t do that! Then I got a normal-looking popup, ie, not the snappy new look of the new Office, telling me that “you don’t have a modern Windows operating system. You need Windows 7 or newer.”


Well, this Dell desktop I’m writing these words on is running Windows 7 Professional SP1.

I know this is beta software so I expect it to be less than 100% polished. But I don’t expect to run into this car crash trying to get it installed. Nor do many others if the forum is anything to go by.

As someone said:

Hey Microsoft, make it simple yo……

Touching Windows 8

windows8startIf you have an interest in PC software and, in particular, operating systems, you’ll probably remember the milestones in each consumer release of Microsoft Windows. You may have fond memories of some versions, eg, Windows XP. Others, like Windows Me, might bring back some hostile thoughts.

I have such memories from when I first used Windows back in the mists of time (it was Windows 2.0). Mostly, though, I like to recall ground-breaking moments such as the releases of Windows 3.1 (the version that introduced a new world of user experience), Windows 95 (bringing you genuine plug-and-play among its many innovations) and the current Windows 7 (getting the promise of the disappointing Windows Vista right).

As the hardware on which the software would run became ever more powerful, reliable and affordable, versions such as these changed the game in giving more people access to the tech tools that enabled them to be more productive, develop ideas and share them with others.

The forthcoming Windows 8  – to be released in 2012 – has a similar ground-breaking look about it, judging from a concept video released by Microsoft on June 1.

(If you don’t see the video embedded here, watch it at YouTube.)

This isn’t about look and feel so much as it is about touch and feel. What we’re increasingly accustomed to on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets in how we interact with such devices and what we experience from that interaction will be central to the Windows 8 experience, complementing the traditional expectation of interaction using keyboard and mouse.

Microsoft’s optimistic vision clearly shows a path many people will want to travel along:

[…] And this isn’t just about touch PCs. The new Windows experience will ultimately be powered by application and device developers around the world — one experience across a tremendous variety of PCs. The user interface and new apps will work with or without a keyboard and mouse on a broad range of screen sizes and pixel densities, from small slates to laptops, desktops, all-in-ones, and even classroom-sized displays. Hundreds of millions of PCs will run the new Windows 8 user interface. This breadth of hardware choice is unique to Windows and central to how we see Windows evolving.

It got me thinking about my wife’s desktop computer she bought in 2009 – an Acer Aspire Z5610 running Windows 7. It has a 23-inch touch screen. I always thought it was a bit ahead of its time. Looks like the promise of what that device can deliver may be fully realized in 2012.

Read more about Microsoft’s plans for Windows 8 at the Microsoft News Center.

Related posts:

Video: Installing Windows 7 beta

The public beta version of Windows 7 was released by Microsoft on January 9 to great enthusiasm by fans and anyone curious about what the next version of the Windows operating system would look like.

I tried to download the 2.4 gigabyte file, without success. Luckily a Microsoft Twitter buddy sent me the beta on DVD (thanks again, @Jas) and so I now have the 32-bit beta version installed on my Dell Dimension XPS 420 desktop computer as a dual-boot option alongside Windows Vista.

I will be getting to know Windows 7 beta during the coming weeks and will talk about my impressions of it over on Next, my tech blog. But for a starter, I recorded a sequence of videos when I installed the software on Saturday.

Part 1 – the sequence of what happened from the moment the computer booted the installer on the DVD up to the first reboot – is on YouTube.

Here is Part 2: just under 18 minutes of my thoughts and impressions on what I saw and experienced as a first run after the app was installed and went into its setup-completion routines.

It’s a bit dry – this is not an all-action video by any means – but you might find it helpful or useful if you’re thinking about trying the beta, either as a clean install, an upgrade or a dual-boot option.

(For a look at a range of apps running on Windows 7 beta – on a Macbook Air, incidentally – take a look at Chris Dalby’s video interview with Microsoft’s Steve Lamb who demo’d the beta last Friday at the Social Media Cafe in London.)

I’ve spent just a little bit of time so far with Windows 7 beta. It’s installed clean into a new partition on my PC’s drive C, so I have none of my favourite mainstream applications installed yet to try out with the beta.

The one app I have installed is a trial of the Norton 360 3.0 beta internet security product designed for Windows 7 that is one of the security products you see in the list of providers within Windows 7.

I have installed a few utilities and and run them with no issues, which is great. These all work in Windows 7 beta:

win7bsod17jan09 The only major issue I have encountered is a series of blue screens – what you see when a severe system error happens causing the computer to come to a sudden and complete halt – surrounding a device driver called tdx.sys.

Click on this image for a larger version where you can see the complete error texts.

From what I’ve been able to find out through online searching, this is something to do with either the anti-virus product, mapping a network drive, or both. Or maybe something else. Whatever it is, there’s a lot of online comment about it.

No doubt this will be addressed by Microsoft’s developers during the evolution of the beta programme. Meanwhile, I seem to have got rid of the blue screens by not mapping a network drive.

It’s something like this happening that brings home to you the inherent risks of playing with beta software. So I am glad that I have installed Windows 7 beta as a fresh install in a separate drive partition and not as the primary operating system for day-to-day use. Not yet.

More about Windows 7 beta on my tech blog in due course. Also see my Twitter stream: I’m twittering a lot about Windows 7!

Related post:

Get Windows 7 beta while you can

Get Windows 7 beta while you can

windows7logo Today’s the day that Microsoft makes the first public beta version of Windows 7 universally available to anyone who wants it, via download from Microsoft’s website.

Windows 7 is the next version of the Windows operating system, successor to Windows Vista, due for release later in 2009.

A post yesterday on the Windows Team blog has detailed information on downloading and installing the beta. However, as I write these words, there must be huge interest in the beta as attempts to access that post during the past several hours only produces a ‘server too busy’ message.

And access to much content on the Microsoft domain is pretty slow, producing many ‘Waiting for…’ browser status messages.

Thanks to the Google cache, though, I was able to access a text-only cached version of that post, captured at 07:57:14 GMT today, with all those details.

Key points:

  • The Windows 7 public beta will be available for download only (Microsoft is not sending out copies on DVD).
  • It will be available for a limited time to the first 2.5 million people who download it. The post doesn’t say what ‘limited time’ means but I would guess that 2.5 million downloads will happen quite quickly.  The limit has been removed and ‘limited time’ means by Jan 24 – see Jan 11 update below.
  • The beta will be available in 32-bit and 64-bit versions in the English, German, Japanese, Arabic or Hindi languages (no 64-bit version in Hindi).
  • The file you download will be an ISO image which you need to burn to a DVD. If you don’t have burner software such as Roxio or Nero to do that, the post recommends the free ImgBurn app.
  • Windows 7 beta is available in one edition only, roughly equivalent to Windows Vista Ultimate.
  • Windows 7 beta will expire on August 1, 2009.

Those are the key things from the post; you might be able to access the post by the time I’ve published this one and so you will be able to read all the other information there as well. There’s Google cache in the meantime!

Here’s another link to the Windows 7 home page as I’m sure details of the public beta download and how to get it will be posted there at some point.

I intend to take Windows 7 beta for a test drive, probably installing it on my Dell XPS 420 desktop in a second partition so I can boot up either to Vista or 7. I’m conscious that in spite of near-universal acclaim for Windows 7 beta that I’ve seen, it’s still a beta. PC Pro magazine’s Barry Collins has 10 tips for Windows 7 beta testers.

This of course assumes I can connect to the Microsoft download servers once the beta is actually available during today US Pacific time. I would imagine the huge interest in this product will lead to quite a few ‘server too busy’ or equivalent messages today.

Likely for me will be a download attempt over the weekend, assuming 2.5 million others won’t have already done that.

[Update Sunday Jan 11:] It certainly does seem that Microsoft did not expect such a high Windows 7 beta demand as much commentary since Friday clearly indicates.

While I eventually managed to get to the download link and install the download manager app, I’ve had no luck at all yet in actually downloading the beta.

Now that Microsoft has removed the limit of 2.5 million downloads, I might have more luck with continuing attempts. As long as I can do that by the cut-off date of January 24.

[Update Monday Jan 12:] In spite of continuing attempts to download the beta file, this time via a direct download link via a Microsoft friend, no luck so far.

The ISO file is downloading but incompletely even though Windows thinks it is complete – the file should be showing a size of 2.4 gigabytes not, as this screenshot shows, 391 megabytes.


Maybe Virgin Media is throttling my bandwidth, as one Twitter friend wondered.

In any event, I will have the beta soon enough on DVD via a Microsoft friend. More later, therefore.