Microsoft takes on design

As I noted in an earlier posting, design is taking center stage in the smartphone wars. But design is becoming more important in other IT area as well. According to Co.Design, Microsoft is paying more attention to design and the user experience. The article, “Windows 8: The Boldest, Biggest Redesign In Microsoft’s History” argues that the recent unveiling of the new Microsoft “Surface” tablet was not the main story:

what was really revolutionary at Milk Studios that day was the software driving the Surface: Windows 8, which aims to change the way we’ve been interacting with computers for the past three decades. Windows 8 could also transform the nature of the software giant’s competition with home-run king Apple, potentially reversing a string of embarrassing defeats, especially in the mobile market. Even more improbably, Microsoft is building this comeback attempt not on its traditional strength–engineering–but on, of all things, design.
. . .
Microsoft’s novel approach to interface design could cause tectonic shifts in the way software of all sorts is conceived.

That is a pretty bold statement. It is unclear whether the new Bauhaus-inspired design style for Microsoft products (code named Metro) will inspire customers. But it is clear that Microsoft has learned the lessons of Apple’s success when it come to the importance of design — and are hoping to beat Apple at its own game. But given that design is only part of Apple’s success story (see earlier postings), it remains to be seen whether Microsoft has gotten it right. Still Microsoft appears to be moving into brave new world that bears watching.

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