Microsoft's KC Lemson reveals how she came up with NinjaCat, the unofficial mascot for Windows 10.
Lemson wrote a guest post on The Old New Thing blog on the origin story of NinjaCat:
In mid 2014, a couple of us in that team were working on a presentation about what would later become known as Windows 10, and as a joke we made a slide that started with this image (that made the rounds of social media in 2013) and then animated it into a slide full of "kittens and puppies and rainbows and unicorns" with a design that was inspired by the amazing Welcome to the Internet image by Jason Heuser.
After the presentation was over I started to get email from people on the team asking how they could get that powerpoint slide on a T-shirt. Now of course folks in our industry do love our geeky shirts… but even then, let's just say that asking for a slide to be made into a shirt is not a common occurrence, so this was a really nice signal that there was something 'there there', and that we had ended up with a visual that spoke to a sort of zeitgeist about how people felt about the product and where we were headed.
Lemson created a small run of tshirts and stickers with the design, and the stickers became popular with her Microsoft co-workers who with place them on their laptops. This trend continued and in March 2015, The Verge posted an image of that design:
Customers and fans then started to share this image representing not just Windows 10 but also Microsoft overall. It was "super cool" (in the Microsoft vernacular - we have a tendency to put "super" in front of adjectives) to see people enjoy this thing we did just for fun within our team. In particular what I loved seeing is how fans made it their own, creating their own mashups and designs, as the spirit of the ninjacat isn't really specific to any particular image, it's more about the general concept of holding the Microsoft flag and being proud of what we're doing… and well, because it's the internet, cats and memes are involved.
The rest, as they say, is history. Microsoft has embraced NinjaCat to help promote Windows 10 with a series of wallpapers, Xbox avatars and more. New NinjaCat wallpapers from Lemson were released this week as part of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update rollout. You can also learn more about the history of NinjaCat from our own Daniel Rubino.