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Microsoft's new Windows 8 logo: This one looks like a window

The software giant continues its march toward releasing its upcoming operating system, debuting a new logo that does away with the flaglike design of Windows past.

The new Windows 8 logo, with previous Windows logos.

Microsoft unveiled a new logo for the upcoming Windows 8, featuring a clean one-color design that leans heavily on its new Metro user interface.

The new logo looks a bit like the inverse of the flag of Finland. It's a blue background with a thin white cross in the middle, making the logo look like a window. The window is angled slightly. That was done in order to give a sense of motion "aligning with the fast and fluid style you'll find throughout Windows 8," Sam Moreau, principal director of user experience for Windows, noted in a blog post today.

Microsoft hired high-powered design consultancy Pentagram to come up with the new look. According to Moreau, the firm wanted to move away from the previous Windows logo that looked more like a flag than a window.

"'Windows' really is a beautiful metaphor for computing, and with the new logo we wanted to celebrate the idea of a window, in perspective," Moreau wrote.

There's a bit of irony in that, given that the Metro interface does away with the window metaphor that's been core to the operating system since its creation. The touch-friendly Metro style, which features tiles rather than icons to access applications, is designed to be immersive.

Programs running in the Metro mode of Windows 8 take up the entire computer screen. There's none of the so-called chrome around the app, the frame that separates it from other apps and the desktop. Microsoft has also done away with the toolbar that runs on the bottom, or the side, of the desktop. And while users can switch to the traditional Windows desktop on Windows 8, the Metro version eliminates the interface showing multiple windows of running apps.

Microsoft hasn't said when the new operating system will debut, though most analysts expect it to arrive before the end of the year, and perhaps in time for back-to-school shopping. Last this month, Microsoft will take the wraps off the beta version of the operating system, a key milestone on the way toward releasing it.