Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The Microsoft futuristic videos remind me of some dark days at MS

Gruber at Daring Fireball says about the Microsoft futuristic videos that went viral:
The designs in these concept videos are free from real-world constraints — technical, logical, fiscal. Dealing with constraints is what real design is all about. Institutional attention on the present day — on getting innovative industry-leading products out the door and creating consumer demand for them — requires relentless company-wide focus.
These videos remind me of the time when Windows codename Longhorn was being conceptualized. The successor to Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 was going to ring the death knell for Mac OSX; be the proverbial knockout punch that KO'ed "Apple Computer". The employees bought into a grand vision depicted that told a futuristic story full of glitz, but the program managers could not speak to specific design details. For the six months that ensued, none of us questioned where the project was going, whether the interaction models depicted were realistic or possible, and whether we could ship in time.

That year at Microsoft's PDC, a build of Longhorn was demo'ed to the world. Only insiders know how much wrangling was needed to get the build into a state to be demonstrated at the conference. The build was riddled with hacks and one-time fixes to show the world that the vision was indeed possible. We all know what happened next: Dave Cutler happened to Longhorn. The project got a royal dressing down, its wings got clipped, a more realistic set of features was decided upon, and the final product was the turd we all grew to love called Windows Vista.

Long story short - futuristic videos skew customer expectations, let program managers think they have rope to design unrealistic features (ergo hanging themselves with the rope), and lead developers into designing and re-designing frameworks and modules.

A wise company knows not to take an axe to its feet.

The 500 Greatest Songs of all time

Added an item on my bucket list to listen to all of these songs, at least once. Some of these I have already memorized. The rest? In good time...