Sunday, September 17, 2006

Where did it all go wrong?

I'm speed-reading as many blog posts and letting most pass without comment... I have a week's backlog to catch up on.

However, this one from my colleague Andy Piper caught my attention. He links to some apparently valid criticisms of the UIs in Outlook 2007 and Microsoft Vista. He then points out that Gnome has some human interface guidelines and implies there is no equivalent for Windows.

The problem is.... there is - and there has been one for years.   This may be it (although I'm not completely sure and it wasn't exactly what I was looking for on MSDN)

So perhaps the current problems in Outlook 2007 and Vista are simply signs that the UI police haven't had a chance to wave their batons over this pre-release software in Redmond yet. Or perhaps it is a sign that things really are not what they were. Some of the examples highlighted were pretty shocking. I wonder where it all began to go wrong...

I should admit that I have a reputation for being something of a Microsoft apologist at work - I have no shame in admitting that I think Windows (the NT bloodline) is a stunningly good piece of work (yes, really), that Word, Excel and Powerpoint are the best in their class by a clear margin and that a company that spends billions of dollars everywhere on pure research is likely to come up with something good every so often (although even I sometimes struggle to identify tangible things that Microsoft Research have come up with)

However, excellence in one area does not imply even cheerful average-ness in another. I support, service and sell enterprise middleware. Thankfully for my business, Microsoft's offerings in this space are another story entirely...

6 comments:

andyp said...

Hmm. Not to be taken in vain, I never actually said that MS have no UI guidelines, although I can understand why you think I implied as such. The point I was making was that a collection of projects with a widely distributed development model can manage to provide some kind of consistency in their user interface, while MS with their corporate power cannot. In fact, they change the UIs every release or so. In the case of Vista, given that everyone will be new to the OS, wouldn't it be a good idea to have a REALLY consistent user experience between applications? That was all I was saying.

Richard Brown said...

Fair enough.....

I just couldn't resist the opportunity you handed to me on a plate to say something nice about Microsoft :-p

Henry said...

"I shall never again need to use any Microsoft product" -- Richard Brown, 2000.

Richard Brown said...

Thank you for that, Henry.

I have, indeed, changed my mind somewhat on matters technical (and political, for that matter).

Ah... the naivete of youth.

andyp said...

Fantastic! Oh, skeletons, closets. Heh, heh, heh. That one is going down in my notebook, I want to use it more often in conversation.

Richard Brown said...

I knew I should never have let Henry anywhere near this blog....

But, provided his ridiculous website with photos of me from seven years ago never gets discovered, I'll be completely safe.