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Bill Buxton & Microsoft Student Insiders at MIX10

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Microsoft Student Insiders, Joe Osborne and Tom Ziegman, were lucky enough to spend some time with the busiest man at MIX10,  Bill Buxton.   Bill talks about the complexity (and necessity) of integrating the disciplines of technology, business and design.  And true to his Canadian heritage, he uses a hockey analogy to explain why all members of the team need to play a part in creating Natural User Interfaces

 

Get the latest on the Microsoft Student Insiders by watching the #MicrosoftSI tag on Twitter.

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  • Nikita PolyakovNikitaP Nikita​Polyakov.com | MVP

    That's awesome!!!

     

    Congrats to the Student Insiders team for great job at MIX10!

  • David J KelleyDavidKelley David J Kelley

    Great discussion on NUI/UX.  I wish MIX would have (or do in the future) done a better job of connecting people to the NUI/UX content.  Stuff like this is really becoming more and more critical for people to understand.

  • Clint RutkasClint I'm a "developer"

    There was an entire session to it.

    http://live.visitmix.com/MIX10/Sessions/EX18

  • I agree with most every thing Bill Buxton said - as usual. I believe quite simply, that everything a person produces should be coherent - whether it is simple or very complex, and whenever it is improved. Also when a product is complex, designers are especially important to render the product relatively easy to use.

     

    I also agree with Bill Buxton about the necessity of re-inventing products periodically. One of my biggest concerns about MS, is how it responds to the threat of the browser. I think it embraces the technology much too much (at the risk of its own business welfare - in particular Windows), rather than take a holistic approach to counter it with a series of its own technologies and business strategies. E.g. it put out WPF along with developer tools for the platform and the browser, and saw people gravitating more towards the browser. MS then started targeting the browser in most of its development efforts, and started producing more and more tools to help developers in that direction. This may sound reasonable, but the problem is that it helped undermine the future of Windows, to the point where Windows sort of had a near death experience in the form of netbooks last year - as its value tumbled due to the increasing irrelevance of Windows as an application platform.

     

    Now contrast MS' throw technologies out there and see which ones catch on, to Apple's holistic approach to product development. The biggest contrast can be seen between MS' Windows Tablet PC approach, and Apple's iPad approach. The iPad shows Bill Buxton's triad (designer, developer, business plan) approach in which the product is developed from top to bottom for tablet computing, and money is made from unit sales, Apple's app store (which includes income from application purchases and various types of content purchases such as books and magazines), etc. What did MS do? It threw in a couple of pen input features into Windows, and watched to see what would happen. It was like a nerdy girl in a movie adding some lipstick to her face, with her frizzy hair, gigantic glasses, and plaid dress, and wondering why the boys weren't interested in her. Like what was done with Windows Mobile - in the form of Windows Phone 7 Series - MS' Windows and other technologies need a complete make over. (One caveat: I must admit that I agreed at the time with MS' thinking for Windows Tablet PCs to support regular Windows applications. I still believe with some extra effort, MS could have had greater success with Tablet PCs. The market place has shifted so much now though, I think MS has to do something fairly radical.)

     

    As I see it, MS has to come out with a touch interface for Windows 8 - designed from top to bottom for primarily touch input. I think similar to the Windows Phone 7 Series, it should feature hubs or platforms aligned with popular categories of web applications, that provide dramatically better user experiences than the browser. E.g. an entertainment platform could be built in which in addition to the capabilities found in WP7 Zune hub, content providers / artists could build experiences they store on a server, which could be accessed from within the application via searches or links originating in or out of the application. Therefore a user could e.g. search for CNN within the application; the experience could be loaded into the application (kind of like a web page loaded into a browser - but in a more sophisticated way [like the data being distributed throughout the entire platform, and not just on discrete screens]); the user would enjoy a super slick, fast user experience; and if he likes it, could install and subscribe to the channel or experience to access an even fuller, richer user experience. These hubs or platforms could therefore become hybrid local applications / specialized browsers, and they could offer a serious challenge to the standard HTML browser.

     

    Now some might ask, what about customers' desire to access info from anywhere? I think MS should rely on virtualization to allow people to access applications from anywhere, e.g. by using app streaming or RemoteApp. E.g. MS could create a generic e-Publishing platform or hub Windows client, to allow information in Sharepoint to be published in a much richer manner than in HTML - which competes against the Windows platform. In the relative few cases in which people aren’t able to install the platform, the platform / application could be made accessible via virtualization.

     

    I believe MS embraces the browser much too much, when it is all so very apparent that browser works hard to undermine Windows. I believe Windows technologies need to be significantly modified to address the browser threat; to create new excitement over the platform; and to seize new opportunities to make money. I believe having a triad approach in which a subsequent version of Windows is designed from top to bottom primarily for touch; including in this new version of Windows special hub or platform applications – as well as traditional apps; having an app store; having the Windows platform supported by a slew of back end services, etc., can lead to a renaissance of Windows. I believe though that much of the above approach can and should be made available to current GUI versions of Windows. I believe hub / platform applications should be created for today’s Windows OSs, as well as an app store. It is just that a version of Windows 8 with a completely redesigned touch UI and the above elements would be so phenomenal, I believe the blogosphere would be hopping around for months in excitement over the news.

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