Penguins, Lizards and Apple's X Factor: How Famous OS Logos Got Started –

Ronald McDonald and the NBC Peacock may get more TV air time, but today's operating systems have cool logos, too. Google, Apple, Microsoft and the Linux crowd crafted mascots ranging from cute lizards to circles of life. Here we look at the origins of the logos and look ahead to their future.

Microsoft Windows

Microsoft Windows "Flag"

The four-color design of Microsoft's Windows logo started with Windows 3.1 in the early '90s and remained in a boxy design with black borders until 2001. That year, Windows XP launched; the borders were dropped and the window became a waving flag, symbolizing exploration and discovery.

[ See also: Top 10 open source apps for Windows, at a glance and The UI challenge: Windows 7 vs Mac OS X ]

The most recent incarnation for Vista and Windows 7 has a shinier look, as if encased in pristine glass. (Must have been pretty strong glass to survive the negative Vista publicity.)

Why red, green, blue and yellow? They are all primary colors, and contrast well to the human eye.

The logo most likely to: be used as a dart board by Apple fanboys.


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