End Task

That the Windows 8 Task Manager in simple view is very similar to the Mac OS X Force Quit window is not surprising. What’s interesting is that Microsoft apparently arrived at this design via telemetry data and user observation. I doubt Apple used mountains of data to come up with what seems like an obvious design.

To the Windows 8 team’s credit, the expanded view’s resource consumption heatmap and contextual command to search the web for a process name are nice additions that I’d be happy to see Apple steal for the Activity Monitor on OS X.

Wrapped in Skepticism

Rather important disclaimer: I have not used Office 2007.

I know Microsoft conducted extensive research and design testing on their Office 12 Ribbon (essentially a tabbed contextual toolbar), but the Scout project from Microsoft Research makes me wonder just how much of an improvement it is.

  • Someone obviously thinks a search mechanism for toolbar commands would be helpful.
  • There are several dozen picture-related commands in a word processor. Yikes.

I hope the new toolbar is an improvement, but this makes me suspect that it is akin to what Alan Cooper calls corpse painting; no amount of work is going to resurrect the patient.

A Hideous Hybrid

As part of a series of Mac Pro performance tests before putting down for a new system, I watched the 1080p trailer for The Departed, looking for smoothness in playback and scaling. No problems there, but I did catch a mighty fugly interface in the trailer itself.

Screen 1: Windows Explorer tree, buttons stolen from Safari, Graphite theme scrollbar (1 MB).

Ugly Windows/Mac hybrid

Screen 2: Mini Mac window widgets, goofily labeled Aqua drop-down menus (1.32 MB).

Goofy widget layout

I guess the budget all went to the parade of stars.

Their Dogfood Tastes Better

Choice snippets from Wired’s very amusing “Hide Your iPod, Here Comes Bill”:

“These guys are really quite scared,” said the source of Microsoft’s management. “It shows how their backs are against the wall…. Even though it’s Microsoft, no one is interested in what we have to offer, even our own employees.”

I wonder why… Dave Fester, GM of the Windows Digital Media division:

“I sure hope Microsoft employees are not buying iPods. We have great alternatives.”

Apparently, several Microsoft executives have tried these alternatives, utterly failing to encounter the greatness that Mr. Fester claims they exhibit:

The Microsoft manager [the anonymous source] said he’s heard from several executives who dutifully bought Microsoft-powered players, tried them, failed to get them working, and returned them in favor of an iPod. He went through the same experience, he said.

“I don’t really care if it pisses them off,” he said. “I’ll argue why they’re doing it wrong. If you want me to stop using it, give me a product that works and is as easy to use.”

Update: The wording is somewhat ambiguous, but I think the bit about Microsoft executives having trouble with Microsoft-powered players is from Wired’s anonymous source, not Robert Scoble.

Choices, choices…

From “Hewlett Joins With Apple In Music Deal,” by John Markoff:

“‘Windows is about choice, you can mix and match all of this stuff,’ said David Fester, general manager of Microsoft’s Windows digital media division. ‘We believe you should have the same choice when it comes to music services.'”

“He said that Hewlett would end up confusing its customers because the company has supported several other Microsoft media products that are not compatible with the iPod, including its Windows Media Center software, which Microsoft sees as the crucial digital hub in the home.”

So choice is great, as long as Microsoft gets a piece of the action. Gotcha.

I think they are mad because the iTunes Music Store and the iPod continue to best WMA-based stores and compatible devices in sales. Things may well change over the next 6 months, but the Apple/HP deal makes it a bit less likely.