On its team blog last night, the Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) team revealed the final branding for both the standalone version of IE 7.0 and the version that will be included in Windows Vista. The team also shared the final logo for the standalone IE 7.0 version. What you won't read anywhere else, however, is why Microsoft is changing the branding for such an established product.
Logos are fun for the kids, but Microsoft doesn't arbitrarily change such things. The important news around this announcement is that the logo design subtly reveals that IE 7.0 will henceforth be referred to as Windows IE 7.0 (the new name appears in the logo but isn't mentioned in the blog posting), further highlighting the fact that the browser is integrated with Windows and isn't a standalone product. Previously, the word Windows didn't appear in IE branding. According to a source at Microsoft, the change signifies that IE will no longer be available for other platforms (Microsoft previously shipped IE versions for the Macintosh) and that users should simply consider IE 7.0 to be part of Windows.
The last time Microsoft established new branding for an established product was with Microsoft Office 2003, which the company renamed Microsoft Office System. Microsoft renamed individual applications in the suite to include the Office branding so, for example, the company now refers to Microsoft Word as Microsoft Office Word 2003. The idea in both cases--IE 7.0 with Windows and Word with Office--is to leverage the visibility of the most prominent brand. Windows and Office combined account for the majority of Microsoft's annual revenues.