C&B Notes

The Windows 8 User Experience

Windows 8, which we have been testing on our laptops since August and is set to officially launch this Fall, is a cornerstone product in Microsoft efforts to maintain longer-term operating system dominance and hopefully build a sticky, comprehensive ecosystem.  The company clearly recognized that it needed to improve its users’ experience on all devices with a particular focus on the increasing use of tablets.  This extensive write-up by the Windows engineering team delves deeply into the critical factors the developers considered in its design and is prefaced by an interesting trip through the evolution of Windows over the last twenty years.

As we started planning the user experience of Windows 8 in mid-2009, just around the time of Windows 7 RTM, we looked around and took note of some of the trends playing out around us.  This was a pre-iPad world, a world before the recent proliferation of new form factors and device types.  And although more than 93% of PCs run some version of Windows today, it was clear even then that the world we lived in and people’s expectations of computing devices were rapidly changing.  Here are a few of the trends we noted that influenced the design of the Windows 8 user experience and features:

  1. Connected all the time.
  2. People, not files, are the center of activity.
  3. The rise of mobile PCs over desktop PCs.
  4. Content is on the PC and in the cloud.

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As we designed the new Windows 8 user experience, a few clear goals emerged for the characteristics of what we wanted to create:

  1. Fast and Fluid.
  2. Long Battery Life.
  3. Grace and Power: Windows 8 app.
  4. Live tiles make it personal.
  5. Apps work together to save you time.
  6. Roam your experience between PCs.
  7. Make your PC work like a device, not a computer.