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Creating the Windows 8 User Experience

At over 11,000 words, it’s more like a small book than an article, but there’s fascinating insight into Microsoft’s design thinking in this piece by Jensen Harris, their lead UI designer.

Their top two design goals are, I think, shared with Apple:

“#1 Fast and Fluid”

Fast and fluid represents a few core things to us. It means that the UI is responsive, performant, beautiful, and animated. That every piece of UI comes in from somewhere and goes somewhere when it exits the screen. It means that the most essential scenarios are efficient, and can be accomplished without extra questions or prompts. It means that things you don’t need are out of the way.

Followed by, at #2, “Long Battery Life”. But clearly, they also see something very differently:

Windows 8 imagines the convergence of two kinds of devices: a laptop and a tablet. Instead of carrying around three devices (a phone, a tablet, and a laptop) you carry around just a phone and a Windows PC. A PC that is the best tablet or laptop you have ever used, but with the capabilities of the familiar Windows desktop if you need it. You may choose to carry a tablet, or you may choose a laptop/convertible, but you do not need to carry around both along with your phone. You never think about a choice, or fret over your choice of what to carry. Things just work without compromise.

Overall, Windows 8 continues to strike me as ambitious, different, and carefully considered. Microsoft clearly sees why the iPad has been so successful, and they’re being smart: they’re learning from iOS and adapting, not copying.

Monday, 21 May 2012