Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Microsoft's original, uncompromising vision for Windows 8

One of the conceits of the typical disaster movie is that -- at least at the beginning -- the audience knows what's going to happen, even as the people on screen go about their seemingly normal lives.

When Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet boarded the Titanic, you knew they'd have a rough voyage, even though they had no idea what was coming. When Bruce Willis is climbing around in the pipes of his oil rig in Armageddon  (the best movie ever made, by the way), he has no idea that in a few short days, he'll be in a spacesuit, fighting for his life on an asteroid about to impact Earth.

Watching Microsoft's Program Manager for the Windows User Experience, Jensen Harris, tell the story of Windows 8's UI design has a little of that disaster movie feel. He gave his talk back in August, when -- you'd think -- he'd already know about the deep compromises and designed-by-committee feel Windows 8 would eventually end up with.

This is an impassioned and proud speaker who talks about the Windows 8 design principles of "Do more with less, authentically digital, pride in craftsmanship, be fast and fluid, and win as one." And yet, we've seen Windows 8 and we've seen the highly problematic Surface RT. The vision was strong, perhaps somewhat impractical, but the execution has been rife with dangerous and possibly deeply damaging compromises...

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