If you've installed the Forefront Client Security you'll notice this green icon with the checkmark in the notification area.

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And a similar icon in the Start Menu

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WHO DESIGNED IT?

Sometimes in the middle of shipping a product one must make due with the resources one has. In this case, my team had only one person who had the expertise with the tools to do this task, someone who unfortunately had no skill or experience or designing icons: me.

Big Lesson: Get someone who has the right visual design skills, not a technical Lead Program Manager who "sort-of" knows how to use Photoshop.

 

A TOUR OF THE ICONS

There are four icons that roughly map to four states. Here's what they look like at size I drew them:

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And a fifth icon which is used to represent the client parts of the FCS software as seen in the Start menu.

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Seen at actual size, the icons look like this:

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THE ANIMATED ICON

The gray application icon is also used as an animation when the FCS client is taking an action like cleaning malware or running a scan. The glowing part of the circle rotates clockwise. Viewed as a sequence of frames that animation looks like this:

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OUR GUIDELINES

 

#1 - We wanted match the colors used by Windows Defender.

This was just our desire to make the colors meaningful for customers who already had associated some meaning to those colors if they had already used Windows Defender.

 

#2 - We did not want FCS to be confused with Defender

We wanted to clearly distinguish FCS from Defender because it would simplify support issues and make it clear that they had the enhanced protection offered by FCS (which is a superset of the features offered by Windows Defender).

 

#3 - We wanted to avoid using locks and keys.

A lot of icons already use these symbols and we felt that using these symbols would make our icon less distinct. Also, they lock or key address a different view of security, one focused on "limitations" and "constraints" and "secrets" and not protection.

 

#4 - We did not want to use a shield

Another overused symbol. Also it increased the chances that users would confuse FCS with Windows Security Center:

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#5 - We did not want to use a wall

This would confuse us with Windows Defender or the Windows Firewall

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#6 - We wanted the icon to cover multiple protection technologies, even those we have yet to build

Over time FCS will offer more kinds of protection technologies, so we didn't want to limit ourselves to what v1 had to offer.

 

THE FINAL DESIGN

 

So we went through a lot of options and finally we came up with this:

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THE CONCEPT

  • The glowing sphere at the top represents protection and cleansing.  
  • The white circle is the orbit the sphere follows while protecting your system and represents ever-present alertness.

 

RENDERING ODDITY

If you look very carefully at the icons I show on this page and what’s actually displayed on the Windows notification area, you’ll notice there’s a slight difference.

 

WHAT I DREW WHAT IS SEEN
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As you can see, the versions I provided are a much smoother than what users see on the desktop. I’m not entirely sure what happened here – it could either be that the image was transformed before it was checked into the code or have something to do with the way icons are rendered in the notification area.

 

FINAL VERDICT

Although I liked the concept behind the icon, frankly I was never pleased with my rendering of it. To me eye it just doesn't look right. Although it is tolerable in the notification area, I truly despise seeing it in the start menu.

 

PARTING THOUGHTS

But we could have just fixed it right? Originally these icons were just temporary, meant only for a public beta release. But, by the time I was finished with the icon and he had hired a visual designer it was too late in the ship cycle so, by RTM FCSv1 was stuck with my crummy icon. Now you know.