When it comes to doing business, few are better versed than Microsoft. They’ve been around for a while now and at one point even came under scrutiny of market monopoly for doing too well. While they might not be quite as all-powerful now, they are still major players and certainly still ones to watch.
This is truer now than ever before in fact, as Microsoft have subtly changed their branding and image and are clearly poised to launch a whole new era of software and devices. While it’s too early to tell whether their new strategy is going to be a hit or not, we can stand to learn a lot from their new techniques either way, here we will look more closely at what they’ve been doing and what if any of it is worth emulating.
The ‘Metro Look’ and New Logo
Microsoft are launching Windows 8 later this year and have already launched Windows 7 mobile. The intention here is quite clearly to compete directly with Android and iOS and this is clear from the look and feel of their new touch-based interfaces.
However Microsoft are smarter than to just outright copy the look of Apple (you hear that Samsung?) and have crafted a very unique look and feel for what they’re offering. This look and feel is what they are calling the ‘Metro’ look, and the intention is to make content the focus of apps and to do away with what they call the ‘chrome’ – the borders, menus and scrollbars.
In other words then the apps they have developed no longer include the grey areas of the screen to the same degree and they are encouraging developers to take a similar stance – allowing the content to ‘shine’ by using only slight changes in font and color to create the hierarchy and to separate what people are looking at.
The other thing that’s distinct about this Metro look is the use of panels which are very similar to those used in both Windows 8 and 7 mobile. These are little square widgets with no borders but again just different colors that separate content and make it easily accessible without ugly borders and dividers.
Microsoft have taken all this even further by applying the same principles of minimalism and the same use of panels to a new logo that at once recalls the Windows logo and the panels found in their new OSs. This change of logo helps to create a new image for Microsoft while at the same time tying their new and old products in together – a smart design choice and one that you could certainly stand to learn from.
At the same time as doing all this though, Microsoft has not forgotten their USP. This is something that can happen all-too often with rebranding (see Digg) where companies will abandon their loyal followers and lose their direction with a complete change of direction.
The USP of Microsoft is definitely their productivity options and the way that they target the business market. You can’t do with an iPad still what you can do with a PC, but this the niche that Microsoft is trying to fill with an OS that allows you to use split-screen multitasking and hardware that offers a proper USB and SD card port. At the same time this is a device that can run all of your old software (if you go for the Windows 8 Pro option) and which will no doubt sync easily with a PC running the same software.
Time will tell whether this all pays off for Microsoft, but so far it’s looking like a very promising come back.
Deana Jones has been in the business of event management for more than 10 years. She suggests London Club Cocktail Parties for hosting your family functions.