Monthly Archives: October 2009

Say hello to the new MSN butterfly

New MSN butterfly logo

A trademark application filed earlier this month has quietly revealed a new logo for Microsoft’s online content brand MSN and, presumably, also its many regional subsidiaries.

Unfortunately with only a black and white preview to work with, it’s not fair to judge the new logo just yet but its obvious it still retains the now iconic butterfly which was actually not that well received when it debuted in early 2000. And like many recent logo redesigns, this too seems to be all about simplifying the elements with the body of the butterfly removed and wings rounded off to roughly stretched ellipses.

Ever since parts of MSN was (painfully) rebranded under Windows Live, the brand has lost some of its meaning and mojo. I can only hope with this new logo will also come a refresh of the entire brand that clears the slate on what they do and where they’re heading.

Update: Thanks to an anonymous Microsofty commentor, a full color version of the logo with a new lowercase font as well has been posted in all of its Web 2.0 glory above.

Update 2: The new logo along with the new website is now for public preview at http://www.msn.com/preview.aspx.

Bing Australian TV ads “look less, find more”

It’s been a while since I watched live TV and historically Microsoft has not had much of a presence on Australian TV which is why it came as bit of a shock to me a few minutes ago to find myself watching a locally produced and tailored Bing ad. As it turns out, there’s even a whole series of them.

The other six Bing ads in the series of seven are 15 second spots entirely dedicated to showing off unique features of the Bing search engine – including hover preview, hot spots, instant answers, infinite scroll, video previews and related searches. These ads are a stark contrast to the US-based Bing ads which I had originally criticized for not showing enough of the product. I like these a lot better.

The entire series is embedded below for your viewing pleasure.

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Windows-branded laptop makes appearance on 30 Rock

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In the latest episode of the “30 Rock“, the TV show apparently synonymous with product placements and especially Apple products, a black laptop computer with a standout white Windows logo branding makes a brief but comical appearance.

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According to Will who sent in the screencaps from the episode, the laptop was used to design a new “super microwave” as a money-making scheme for General Electric, however by the end of the design process the product had evolved into more or less a car with four doors, wheels and a radio. A divergence only possible on a PC I’d imagine.

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A brief shot from the front view of the laptop identifies the laptop as a Lenovo ThinkPad W500.

Microsoft releases Windows 7 sponsored themes

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As the official Windows 7 launch is set in motion, a bunch of new content is being released online to support the wider public availability. To kick things off, a handful of new first-party theme pack have been released on Windows.com, but with a twist.

In addition to a number of new international themes released featuring photographs from different regions of the world, 14 sponsored themes are also available for download with wallpapers sourced from various notable brands. They range from movies to sports cars, video games and even refreshment beverages (from both Coke and Pepsi!).

As time goes on, I’d expect more companies to jump on this opportunity as an easy and fun way to promote their products and brand. Music label EMI has already planned a whole site dedicated to branded Windows 7 theme packs.

Windows 7 was totally my idea

The wraps have been lifted off the Windows 7 global advertising campaign and apparently Windows 7 was totally my idea. The New York Times has a video clip of one of the ads in the series produced by Crispin Porter + Bogusky and the message is quite simple – Windows 7 is everything customers wanted. And what did we want? Less waiting. Less clutter. Less clicks. Faster. Easier. Leaner. Meaner. Safer. Cleaner. Simplerrrrrr. And Microsoft apso-frickin-lutely agreed.

Also as a fun fact, one of Microsoft employees featured in the video is Chaitanya Sareen, a program manager on the team responsible for developing the new Windows 7 taskbar.

Update: More ads in the series embedded below.

Pretty cool ad campaign I must admit.

Windows Mobile 7 to feature more operator-specific UXs

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If you’ve been hoping Windows Mobile 7 will bring unification to the user experience of the Windows Phones ecosystem then you should give up and go home immediately.

A recent Microsoft job advertisement signals that the Windows Mobile team will not only support the layer of custom interfaces on most Windows Phones today at an OEM level but will even help create custom interfaces for individual operators comes Windows Mobile 7.

The final responsibility of our group will be working with mobile operators to deliver a unique windows mobile experience that seamlessly integrates the mobile operator’s services (such as voicemail services, video-on-demand services, and navigation services for instance). Microsoft experimented with this back in 2007 with the introduction of the T-Mobile Shadow. That was a great success and with WM7 we will be expanding this effort to more operators. Because of this we will be working heavily on creating custom user interfaces, so passion around UI and graphics programming is a must.

The T-Mobile Shadow was one of the first documented cases where Microsoft not only worked with the operator to design new hardware but actually created a custom-tailored interface in-house to promote some operator-specific services and functionality. Obviously it must have worked out pretty great for T-Mobile and Microsoft they want to do it again with even more operators.

In my opinion, this practice has both advantages and disadvantages. On one hand, every OEM and operator in the ecosystem wants to differentiate their product and this allows them an easy way to do so without resorting to changing the hardware which is more expensive. At the same time however it also means the same device across operators and all devices under the Windows Phone brand will have even less in common – adding more complexity to an already diluted ecosystem.

My fear with such customizations is that eventually the “Windows Phone” will water down to mean nothing more than “Windows Embedded” means for embedded devices – sure it runs Windows CE but you wouldn’t be able to tell (like the Zune HD) and wouldn’t care less. Sure consumers might not care either but it doesn’t make much of a brand if it’s everything and anything.

Update: Hat tip to MobileTechWorld for noticing this 3 months ago.