In March last year I managed to obtain a Windows ninja cat sticker for my laptop. I had been trying to track down the sticker for a few months before that after seeing it appear on Microsoft employee's laptops at Windows events. It's a ninja cat riding a fire-breathing unicorn, all while waving a Windows flag. At the time, it was a single identifier of a cultural shift that was underway at Microsoft, and a sign that the company was cool again.
KC Lemson, who many Microsoft employees speak highly of, is the mastermind behind the Windows ninja cat, and she's finally agreed to tell her side of how it came to life. Writing in Raymond Chen's The Old New Thing blog, Lemson reveals that the ninja cat started off life, like many things at Microsoft, inside a PowerPoint presentation. The slidedeck was about Windows 10, and featured a joke about Microsoft's org chart that transformed into kittens, puppies, rainbows, and unicorns with a design that was inspired by the 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," explains Lemson. "Over the next six or so months, I handed out stickers to coworkers, who then asked for more stickers to give to other coworkers, and so on. As the months went by, Microsoft employees were putting the stickers on their laptops and it just kind of spread slowly from there."
The quirky design really took off after we managed to secure a sticker, and Windows fans were scrambling to get their own. It turned into its own symbol for Windows fans, and Microsoft embraced it with new designs and by integrating the ninja cat into Skype, Xbox Live avatars, and even Windows 10's emoji. Lemson is aware of its limited 15 minutes of fame, and even jokingly produced a ninja cat jumping the shark.
"With the ninja cat, what I find the most rewarding is how fans and other employees have reacted and understand the spirit in which it started," says Lemson. "People on the team excited about what we were working on for customers, and just goofing around and having dorky fun with each other."