My new project: Tact, a simple chat app.

Windows Metro and Microsoft’s cleanup effort: good stuff, but more needed

September 20, 2011

I’ve been watching Windows Metro on the computer, phone and tablet form factors ever since I first heard about it. I’m seriously impressed by the effort. Not least because my classmates are part of the design team. There’s some genuinely good stuff going on there.

I’m not going just by the videos. I have a Windows Phone device. It’s super slick. I like it much more than I like the Android device that I also have. I wouldn’t be too surprised if Windows Phone+Tablet in the form of Metro will skyrocket past Android in the next year. Or when it won’t. This market and competition is volatile, and that’s good news for us users in the long run.

But more is needed. Design language is something that involves the whole corporate organization. The product reflects the organization. If you want to see a deep reflection on this, see Justin Maxwell’s talk. Windows Metro could not have happened without some serious introspection and cleanup, and that’s respectable. But still, imperfections shine through. Just watch the Windows Build Keynote #1 video where many of the things are not working. This is not the end of the world, but things like this just don’t happen in Apple videos. The one Apple analogy that came to mind is from a Steve Jobs’ keynote a few years ago where the participants’ mobile wifi hotspots were interfering with the video, and he asked people to shut them down. But their own stuff worked flawlessly, and always has.

To make the language problem really clear, here’s a post from Windows 8 blog:

Sue Bohn, David Hicks, Cornel Lupu of our ACDC team (App Compat, Device Compat) authored this quick post. –Steven

The word “authored” really bothers me. This is corporate-speak and not normal English. What’s wrong with saying “This post is by Sue Bohn, David Hicks, and Cornel Lupu of our ACDC team”? Or maybe “Sue Bohn, David Hicks, amd Cornel Lupu wrote this.”

Apple is the leader in today’s computing experiences. Microsoft has been smart to figure out Apple’s weak spots, such as apps not cooperating, and countering it with “charms” and such. But they do need to go all the way, and this involves the language in their blogs, and not using words like “authored.”