Challenges of Developing the Windows UI

You can please some of the people all the time, or all the people some of the time…. Of course, this doesn’t apply to the Windows interface. You can never please all the people some of the time. No matter which direction you take, even if you make it easier, someone will be there to blast your decision. When its up to you to make changes, or in some cases redesign the whole UI, you are put under a lot of pressure. You aren’t designing all of Windows – but you are designing everything the user sees and interacts with.

Matt Buchanan has an interview with Sam Moreau, who may have the most difficult job at Microsoft. If you don’t like the way the Start Orb looks – blame him. Don’t like the new task bar button? He’s your guy. He’s the director of user experience for Windows, Windows Live and Internet Explorer, and he’s been tasked with recreating a new user interface with Windows 8. Designing for a huge amount of people with very different tastes in what an interface should look like is difficult. Designing to help those that have never touched a computer before AND those that could edit every config file in notepad with their eyes closed – he’s the man that makes sure it all happens smoothly.

I bet he’s going to get a lot of hate mail over Windows 8. Personally, I really like the MetroUI. Was I a fan from the beginning? No way. Didn’t like it one bit. After owning a Windows Phone 7 and finding how amazingly easy it is to do anything or advanced enough to look at my phone and see what’s going on without pressing anything? It’s priceless. Time will tell, though. I think that the majority of users that try Metro will eventually end up becoming fans.

It’s one of the coolest design challenges I can ever think of. And definitely the coolest one I’ve had in my entire career is to design something that is not necessarily broken. It has this whole past and greatness about it. What Windows does is pretty remarkable. It runs a lot of the world. To design something that is really not broken and works really well, and also to design something for a future that’s kind of unknown — we don’t know a bunch of things that are going on, like that (Intel convertible tablet stuff). When we started designing this, we didn’t know about that. We weren’t imagining the hardware this is going to go on. You never know. It’s one thing to design with known parameters and to fix whatever fits in the box, but we had this big open-ended thing, to design it for the future. And we play a role in deciding what the future is.