466 - Microsoft try design (I hope)
Microsoft have a page on design and how it effects the experience a user of software. It’s actually reasonably insightful, showing the experiences of creating the XBox 360 and Zune are being gradually rolled out within Microsoft. The obviously now realise that a user’s experience is key to being successful in future — and they cannot rely solely on an entrenched position to provide the impetus for selling their products, as in the past.
It looks like it’s a relatively recent page, so perhaps input of this kind has gone into Vista. If it has been a guiding principle, Vista may be pleasurable to use — a word that certainly isn’t associated with the user experience of Windows XP I’ve had. From what I’ve heard of Vista and Office 2007, they are far more pleasant to both look at and use. Certainly, the new Windows Media Player is far nicer than the old version, so there is hope. I look forward to their being rolled out in HP so I can try them out for real.
My experience with my MacBook has shown me just how much better a computing experience can be when a lot of thought is put into the user experience. The MacBook has something qualitatively nicer about how it feels and works, even down to tiny details such as the wording in dialog boxes. It feels like the computer knows I don’t want to be intruded upon, whilst on XP I seem to have innumerable things clamouring for my attention.
I used to think that aesthetics on their own could not make using a computer better, using OS X has shown me otherwise. I think Microsoft have seen this and are now starting to take note. This must be a good thing for everyone who ends up with Windows by default and don’t know they have a choice.
I’ll leave with a quote from the article which I believe must be a sideswipe at Apple:
Even computers and software that defined their markets and were delightful to use simply didn’t capture the consumer imagination enough to become standards.