Earlier this month it was reported that Microsoft would abandon the “Metro” brand to describe the tile-driven user interface on its Windows Phone and upcoming Windows 8 operating systems. Online tech journals, The Verge and Ars Technica, which helped break the story, reported that the decision was possibly due to threats of legal action relating to trademarks held by German retailer Metro AG. Although Microsoft has not yet settled a new name for the user interface, the company has just unveiled a new corporate logo for the first time in 25 years.

Jeff Hansen, Microsoft’s General Manager for Brand Strategy, explained the news in a post on Microsoft’s Official Blog. Mr. Hanson wrote that “the Microsoft brand is about much more than logos or product names.” He explained:

We are lucky to play a role in the lives of more than a billion people every day. The ways people experience our products are our most important “brand impressions”. That’s why the new Microsoft logo takes its inspiration from our product design principles while drawing upon the heritage of our brand values, fonts and colors.

As shown above, the new Microsoft logo comprises two components: A new logotype and a symbol. For the logotype, Microsoft is using the same Segoe font it currently uses for its products and marketing communication. To the left of the Microsoft name is a symbol of four colored squares that evokes the Windows logo as well as the “Metro” interface. “The symbol is important in a world of digital motion,” Hansen explained. “The symbol’s squares of color are intended to express the company’s diverse portfolio of products.” The new logo already appears on Microsoft.com and in certain retail stores (Boston, Seattle and Bellvue). Microsoft states the it will soon be seen in all Microsoft stores and be used to support marketing Microsoft’s products. Sources: Microsoft’s Official Blog; The Verge; Ars Technica; www.Microsoft.com

This article was prepared by Saul Perloff (sperloff@fulbright.com / 210 270 7166) in Fulbright’s Intellectual Property and Technology Practice.