What an Absolute Mess

by Jin, 03-31-10 // 2 comments

From: Bill Gates
Sent: Wednesday, January 15, 2003 10:05 AM
To: Jim Allchin
Cc: Chris Jones (WINDOWS); Bharat Shah (NT); Joe Peterson; Will Poole; Brian Valentine; Anoop Gupta (RESEARCH)
Subject: Windows Usability Systematic degradation flame

I am quite disappointed at how Windows Usability has been going backwards and the program management groups don’t drive usability issues.

Let me give you my experience from yesterday.

[...]

This site is so slow it is unusable.

[...]

The site was pathetically slow but after 6 seconds of waiting up it came.

[...]

So I decide I will go do that. This time I get dialogs saying things like “Open” or “Save”. No guidance in the instructions which to do. I have no clue which to do.

[...]

What an absolute mess.

The lack of attention to usability represented by these experiences blows my mind. I thought we had reached a low with Windows Network places or the messages I get when I try to use 802.11. (don’t you just love that root certificate message?)

From an internal email made public due to the antitrust suits against Microsoft. When I used to use PCs, my experience of using the Microsoft site was pretty much the same as Bill Gates’. I’m sure things have improved since Gates sent this rant in 2003. I wonder, if the guy at the top didn’t throw a tantrum, would anything change? Some companies’ approach towards usability and design are proactive, while others are re-active.

Found via More Design Principles at Microsoft by Luke Wroblewski.

2 comments

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Dmitry 04-08-10

No, if the guy in charge didn’t throw a tantrum I don’t think anything would change :) But that’s not the best case scenario. Best case is: have a leader lay out a clear vision for how the software should look and behave: e.g. beautiful and usable. Apple has this vision for their new products, and that’s why they’re so successful. Instead of addressing the symptoms, address the cause — create a vision for your company to follow.

Jin 04-12-10

@Dmitry, sorry your comment got caught in the spam filter for some reason. Agree with what you said. I think what Apple has done is to make other companies more conscious. We don’t see beige boxes anymore.