This week Microsoft decided to profile a number of designers working at the company as well as do a podcast interview with Principle designer Katie Holmes and Principle researcher Bill Buxton. Given the dearth of info on what’s new in Windows 10 UI/UX I of course pounced on these posts.
Gang of Four
One of the interesting, and sometimes confounding things, about design at Microsoft is how communal it is. Whenever a designer from Redmond talks about design it’s never about a person but about a community of designers. This makes it hard to turn any number of people into a Microsoftian Jony Ive. However the consolidation of Microsoft’s products and groups has lead to veil being lifted so we no whom to praise (or blame).
The designers profiled represent the hardware and software sides of the software giant. There is Kat Holmes who is Design Director, Operating Systems who worked on Cortana and is part of the team working on Windows 10. Next is Jonah Sterling, Azure’s Creative director and the guy I sort of wished would get a crack at Windows proper (I mean it the Azure web portal is sexy). On the hardware side is Yeongyku Yoo creative director for the Microsoft Devices team and Ralf Groene who is creative director for Surface. Yoo works on the upcoming HoloLens and for the newest hardware group, Devices, which is also working on wearables like the Microsoft Band. Groene, who every time there was a Surface video made me ask who he was, is part of the team that works on the Surface line of devices.
Each profile provides background on the designers and their various paths to Microsoft and their views on design. It’s an interesting mix because there is no lock step answer on what design means. Beyond these profiles was an interview on Microsoft and design done for the Next at Microsoft podcast.
Microsoft’s Five Burroughs
Bill Buxton is a principal researcher at Microsoft Research and someone who has done a lot of work on devices with consider commonplace. Buxton is also part of a larger movement to make design thinking a bigger part of Microsoft. In an interview with himself and Kat Holmes he discussed some of the issues Microsoft faces. One of the most interesting points was made by Ms. Holmes on where Microsoft’s interfaces are going. She described Windows and Microsoft services as being like the 5 boroughs of New York City; united but distinct. Buxton discussed the challenge facing technology was connecting devices and apps across their barriers.
And that is the latest in Microsoft Design news.