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Microsoft's new retro-flavoured logo channels Channel 4

Metro is dead, long live the Metro-inspired rebrand

Logo watch Microsoft has redrawn its corporate logo for the first time since the 1980s in a move likely to have the web boiling over its significance.

Out is the fluttering Windows flag with Microsoft spelled using a bold black typeface and the "o" slashed by the "s". In is a four-piece square that looks like a Simon memory game, with "Microsoft" in Helvetica-like lettering called Sego, which Microsoft started using in Windows Vista and Office 2007. Like the flag, the box retains Microsoft's red, yellow, green and blue colours.

Flat and sans-serif sound familiar? They should: Microsoft has updated its corporate brand to reflect the Metro Modern UI of Windows 8 and Windows Phone and the phone's too-big-for-the-screen letters.

Brand strategy general manager Jeff Hanson said change was needed with Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, new versions of Office and Xbox services due. Microsoft's existing logo dates from 1987, two years after the release of Windows 1.0, when icons and a mouse were the future and touch was something geeks only did in the privacy of their bedrooms rooms.

There have been five changes of logo during Microsoft's history since 1975.

"This wave of new releases is not only a re-imagining of our most popular products, but also represents a new era for Microsoft, so our logo should evolve to visually accentuate this new beginning," Hanson said.

The box "is important in a world of digital motion" while the little squares of colour are "intended to express the company's diverse portfolio of products".

By that, we suppose, Hanson means the big box makes Microsoft look diverse, dynamic and yet an integrated whole that explodes into smaller pieces that then re-assembles around us - as this video illustrates:

That's probably what Channel 4 executives thought too when the broadcaster created its somewhat similar ident from about the time the old Microsoft logo was wheeled out:

Either that or Microsoft's Metro Maoists have ruled that the look that marked Microsoft's transition from startup to provider of software for your CIO in the late 1980s is unsuited to an age of consumer-driven adoption. ®

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