Microsoft and nice design haven’t precisely been synonymous through the years, however the firm has been changing its reputation with the rollout of the simple, clear and useful Metro consumer interface throughout its product line — culminating with the discharge of Home windows 8 later this yr.
“I really feel nice about it,” says Bill Flora, the former Microsoft design director, when requested for his ideas on the corporate’s progress. “I’ve been combating that combat for a very long time.”
Nineteen years, to be actual. Flora went to Microsoft straight from design college, and labored on merchandise such because the Encarta encyclopedia, Home windows Media Middle and Zune music participant — early initiatives that demonstrated the advantages of the design method since adopted extra broadly by Microsoft merchandise together with Xbox, Home windows Telephone and Home windows itself.
With the Metro initiative taking maintain, Flora final yr determined it was time to go away and start a brand new chapter of his personal. He has began a expertise design agency known as Tectonic, primarily based in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, with two enterprise companions.
Flora will likely be our visitor subsequent week at the GeekWire Meetup, April 11 on the Zillow headquarters in Seattle, speaking about expertise design in a hearth chat with GeekWire chairman Jonathan Sposato, the former Picnik CEO and a Microsoft veteran himself.
Lots of the tendencies in tech design are pushed nowadays by cellular gadgets, together with smartphones and tablets. Metro was no exception, with the Zune HD getting credit score for influencing the consumer interface of Home windows Telephone and different Microsoft merchandise.
“Cellular has been a automobile for design and engineering,” Flora says. “It forces them to simplify, and on the finish of the day that’s what folks need — one thing the place all of the exhausting work is under the floor, and above the floor it’s simply pleasant and easy.”
That may be exhausting in an engineering-focused firm, the place completely different teams need their work to be as seen as doable. Microsoft has taken some time to be taught that lesson as an organization, and it’s not completed but, he stated.
Cellular can be a spotlight of Flora’s post-Microsoft profession. He’s exploring areas together with next-generation publishing, as conventional publishers look to make the transition into the brand new period of tablets and telephones. Along with working with purchasers, Flora says, Tectonic might also finish up growing its personal mental property sooner or later.
Flora made headlines for another reason earlier this year, when he was pictured in a CNet News article with a Mac on his desktop, inflicting some websites to say that Home windows 8 was designed on a Mac. Flora laughs as he explains that the picture was taken after he left Microsoft. Macs are the software of alternative within the design world.
And for the document, he says with a chuckle, that Mac theoretically may have been operating Home windows.
The GeekWire Spring Meetup runs from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 11, in downtown Seattle. House is proscribed. Tickets and extra info available here.