A Lesson in Logo Design: The Evolution of Microsoft Logo Over the Years

The Microsoft logo is recognised around the globe as one of the most well recognised around. Specifically within the technological space, that’s mostly due to the fact it is displayed on millions of software boxes, PCs and sites. The way people handle their gadgets is evolving, and over the years Microsoft has continued to adapt and improve new designs for its Windows apps.

Credits: logorealm.com

Microsoft finds itself in the core of a long time redesign of its trademark tools, and the icons that represent them. They aim to match a generation where most people handle multiple gadgets every day and aren’t restricted into a single operating system. Microsoft launched a set of app icons to help their products make an impact when standing alone outside of just a Windows environment.

Today, we are looking back to the last 37 years of the transformation of the Microsoft logo and how it changed through time. Let us start with the introduction and the very beginnings of Microsoft and how their logo evolved and fit the market over time.

1975–1979: The First Logo of Microsoft

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The two founders of Microsoft, Bill Gates and Paul Allen launched its first logo at the company’s inception. They may have shaped the logo with influences from a programming language. It consists of the company’s name in sans serif font and portrays the 70s and elements of the ‘disco era’. Different formal concentric lines from the letters set up a depth effect on some viewers. This Microsoft logo is the only one which is designed on two lines. The Microsoft designers worked to pick up a technological and modern vibe by practising the type of body shaped with multiple strokes and curves, giving the perception of wires.

1980–1982: The Second Logo… A Radical Change

It’s a different decade and Microsoft has developed an advantageous partnership with IBM, becoming more and more prevalent among a new era of computer programmers. In an attempt to stay visually compatible and appeal to this rising market, a brand new logo with a downright bold characteristic was developed next.

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With its sharp edges, angled lines and abstract stems on the letters M, R and F, one could be excused for admitting that the company was generating some serious heavy metal records compared to software. While many people did accept the new logo, and this lasted for only 2 years. From this point onwards, Microsoft utilised more classic typography.

1982–1986: The “Blibbet” is Born

Exploring a more contemporary image apt for mass consumption, the word mark is extracted into a strong, geometric sans serif font. The letter “O” is shaped from a sequence of parallel lines – an icon which is named as “blibbet” by staff. This logo was considered as the face of Microsoft’s flagship Windows OS.

Credits: money.cnn.com

The blibbet served as a standalone logo too, and was practised as a watermark on company letterheads. The iconography usage soon became a cult practice among staff and alumni. There was even a Blibbet Burger which was distributed on Microsoft’s campus, along with a campaign initiated by an employee named Dave Norris to “Save the Blibbet” when another logo was introduced in 1987.

1987–1994: The “Pac Man” Logo

The most used Microsoft logo was designed in the late 1980s. It was known as the “Pac Man” logo. The Helvetica font (italics), was preferred to shape the logo, making it a renowned font that is still commonly used nowadays. When comparing with the “Blibbet” logo, there were no exclusive features in this logo. It is composed only of the name of the company, but there is a space between the O and the S. This looks to be a nod to when the company was called ‘Micro-soft’.

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They used a much bolder, title-cased wordmark that portrayed the most striking change from earlier logos. The employees called this logo “Pac Man Logo” because of the triangular silver sliced from its side like Pac Man’s mouth. It became Microsoft’s most extensive and abiding logo, experiencing a 25-year run whose only updates had the inclusion of certain taglines in 2006 and 2011.

1994–2012: In 2006, Microsoft included their new tagline to their logo, “Your potential. Our passion”. In 2011, they changed it again to “Be What’s Next”. Clearly, this long-reigning logo presents an argument that it is necessary to set up a flexible logo that can be handled in various contexts.

2012–Present (2021): The Current Logo

A pre-eminent redesign of Microsoft’s logo took place in 2012. This is the current logo which is made by Microsoft staff members after various meetings. The bold and italic side of the earlier logo is reinstated by the Segoe UI font. Still, it is the inclusion of a colourful design that makes it so distinct from previous logos. Four squares of various colours feel like a window indeed similar to Windows–one of the remarkable products of Microsoft.

Credits: theverge.com

The most remarkable point here is the practice of colours in the renowned four-box icon, which represents the achievement of Windows along with its colour-coded suite of Microsoft Office apps. The red colour depicts PowerPoint or the Office suite, the blue square is for Word or Windows, the green square is for the Xbox or Excel console, and the yellow colour depicts Outlook or Bing. In short, this logo looks to be here to stay.

Microsoft has had various logos over its almost 40-year history, and essentially all of them have been very much a design of the time and popular in that generation. From its introduction as a cutting edge tool for developers to far-flung service as a household name, Microsoft has shown up a long road in its evolution. This is visually reflected in a business strategy set up around Microsoft’s enthusiasm to take advantage of the changes and constantly forward-moving technology.

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