Even if you aren’t a Windows aficionado, you should take an hour out of your day to watch this. Jensen Harris, Director of Program Management for the Windows User Experience Team, took the stage at UX Week 2012, a user experience design conference. His presentation is called “The Story of Windows 8,” it details how Microsoft reimagined Windows for the next wave of PCs. He travels back in time to 1992, the year the Start Menu, Taskbar, and many of the other familiar facets of Windows were born. “They were designed to help people do things with computers that they did in 1992, not necessarily with what people do today with PCs, tablets, [and] phones today,” admits Harris. And this is what compelled the company to radically re-engineer the OS. Many things have been updated and refreshed over the years from Windows 95 to Windows 7, but “the basic elements of the user interface have remained the same,” he explains. Instead of waiting to be engulfed by the modern, his team decided to reimagine Windows by defining what is modern.
Over the course of the presentation, Harris gives a grand tour of Windows 8, interweaving and fully detailing the OS’ design principles (namely do more with less, authentically digital, pride in craftsmanship, fast and fluid, win as one).
He makes it a point to highlight the progression of Windows and what makes the latest release stand out from all the others. But what’s most fascinating about this intellectual and informative presentation is its overall theme which Harris calls “familiar usurped by modern.” Before diving into the OS, he spans the video game, smartphone, and automobile industries to compare and contrast “familiar” products and ideas to “modern” ones. It’s a course in shifting the status quo, being bold by leading by example, what it means to think and be modern. For design enthusiasts it’s a captivating watch, and along the way you might just learn all about the painstaking, detail-oriented effort that went into the making of Microsoft’s new OS.