Microsoft and Adobe casual gaming partnership– Casual love or just gaming each other?

I often get many theories floated past me from staffers, usually it is a case of mind candy, and ways to figure out the chaos within Microsoft – kind of like reverse detective work?

Today, I got a great piece to a puzzle I have been trying to put together for quite some time. It comes mainly from a meeting that Microsoft and Adobe CEO’s had a couple of years ago – in secret kind of.

The two meeting for a catch-up was always unlikely, and when those two get in a room there is an agenda, now the question was always – what was that agenda

The working theory is that Silverlights death was confirmed in that meeting, that in order to regain favor with the Adobe crowd you had to basically show your intent has been to knife the baby – get rid of your competitive threat and at the same time work out a strategy into getting the hordes of design audiences at Adobe’s disposal to give Microsoft another look – despite the brand fail of internet explorer / office clippie and many many many more.

The inside gossip I got today was that Microsoft are working together with Adobe to close the gap on the casual gaming market, in that Adobe’s always owned this market online via Flash for many years and to go after it, despite the XBOX brand’s success would simply take a lot of investment.

Instead, Windows team getting into bed with Adobe to produce a tooling story that compliments their future platform strategies around casual gaming makes more sense as it wins on two fronts. The first being is Windows team aren’t keen to own the tooling strategy for this area, its basically to hard and requires a separate war chest to dominate. Adobe is keen to shift away from being the platform story (notice why Adobe is less platform focused these days and gone back to basics on tooling?) and more about owning the tooling that goes with platform(s).

Adobe working with Microsoft also provides a partnership elsewhere; they both get to cross-pollinate with the developer and designer adoptions. If you can get developers to buy, your tools to work with designers both parties win. As Microsoft is desperate to win hearts and minds on the design bloodlines, it is why metro is the default look as despite its marketing fluff; it is simply a case of ascii art meets public toilet signage – idiot proof.

It is not enough and despite the proactive technical audiences raising glasses in favor of the solid color screens known as metro, it still is not sustaining the creative momentum it desperately needs to retain the interruption required to seed a bigger customer base.

Looking back on BUILD conference, I also found it interesting that XNA was not mentioned as much is it could or probably should have been. It like Silverlight was left with a lot of ambiguity around its futures specifically how casual gaming audiences could benefit from Windows 8 in the future.

In fact, sitting down to play with the current scraps of beta that was given to us via this conference and focusing on Window 8, under the hood it’s still murky as to how the overall new platform is going to work with regards to games.

Not only that, but the reality that plug-ins as we know it aren’t going to be friendly within Windows 8 Browser(s) it’s also a bit of a question mark around how Adobe can retain success here going forward. In fact, if Windows 8 does go ahead, it’s basically a case of Flash being shut down the moment that platform gets traction and before you throw the anti-trust argument on the table, remember that no longer applies – the Windows team can push out Silverlight over night to every machine world wide if they wanted to (not as optional either) as legally speaking, nothing is preventing this today?

That was also our intent in the Silverlight team, when the consent decree sunset kicked in we had strategies around how we would get ubiquity worldwide in quite a rapid way – I mean in nine months we pushed Silverlight out to half a billion people under a lot of tight constraints. Today, nothing …despite constraints gone?

Silverlight had to be knifed but why, and WinRT is not enough there has to be a better story on the horizon.

The windows teams are not really interested in tooling or mini platforms, they typically want a locked in way of life in that you buy Windows and THEN the free market opens up.

If the Windows team have any chance of success of having an AppStore model much like the iTunes/Apple story they need to provide a lot of free market opportunities to folks who aren’t already exclusively tied down to Apple (content wise as well as other categories).

Apple have made it clear Adobe has no future on their future platform stories other than tooling for designers to create Objective-C experiences and also they can install such tooling on the Operating System – but that’s it, beyond that Steve Jobs was quite open about his dislike for Flash.

Flash and HTML5 are also becoming quite a topical conversation in the Adobe communities, specifically the FUD around the future of Flash – Yes more Flash is dead posts arriving to an RSS feed near you.

Adobe have to figure out a strategy here around retaining control as in the end despite them spending a lot of time and energy now on tooling vs. their vision of the platform dominance for mobile devices (CTO Kevin Lynch used to always beat that war drum, today, not so much? He was ahead of his time in thinking and cunning strategies to position Flash but in the end, it never stuck).

Microsoft have to bridge this gap and until you see a casual gaming story unfolding at the next BUILD something or someone has to provide the ingredients here to make that work, as in the end this is the carrot that gets you in part Windows 8 adoption with consumers – especially given the Windows 8 in its current form has no level of excitement from Enterprise or Medium Business industries.

Today, I was told a scrap of info but the more I step back and piece things together the more I begin to cast a theory, and this post is a current working model of it.

I could do with more information, care to share?

XNA, where’s that heading next? What is Microsofts casual gaming story in the new Windows 8 world? Why no Silverlight focus on Casual gaming? HTML5 can’t handle it on its own that’s for sure…

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Wife says: “Stupid Windows 7 Phone!!”

I was waiting for the train with the wife this morning and could hear her mutter a few curse words under her breathe. I stop reading my twitter stream, look over to her and am immediately greeted with a look of “Your to be blamed” for this.

I stupidly incite the upcoming verbal beating with a simple question “What seems to be the problem now?”

Wife: “Your stupid Microsoft friends have made a stupid phone!!!”

Me: “Oh? How so, like what is your beef missy?”

I soon realize that the time for joking with her and ending the sarcastic response with “missy” was not my brightest moment and definitely isn’t my great starting to a new day.

Here response is in the video below, but she has reached a point where she is over the HTC Mozart Windows Phone 7 phone. That is to say, she has made up her mind based on small bits of information around who is to blame and why.

I tweeted the saga live and saw a lot of responses with “That doesn’t happen to me” and “it must be hardware related” which is fine, I guess, yet you have to remember this is an average consumer who buys phones based on “pretty” and “angry birds” decisions only.

To her, this phone is broken and its Microsoft’s fault, end of story.

As an informed person of the whole Windows Phone 7 meets HTC hardware issues, I could easily sway her to the righteous side of things and explain how Microsoft relies on hardware vendors meeting quality bands and so on.

I did that.

Her response was simple and it was brilliantly executed in my opinion.

“Well when your iPhone smashed it screen, I didn’t see you finding the place in China or wherever it was made to figure out the solution. You took it into Apple store and you got it fixed.”

She has a point and to be fair, it is true. If iPhone has issues no matter what the case, I look at Apple and growl.

If a Windows Phone or Google Android has issues, we have three brands to look at and give a menacing growl at – Google, Hardware Vendor, and Carrier.

At some point, you have to figure out which of the three caused you the pain and then try to reconcile the problem with them and so on.

In the case of the Windows Phone 7, sure let us say it is hardware to be blamed? What do I do? Do I attempt to spend my entire lunch hour negotiating with Telstra drones who often hide behind the “look we just sell phones, we don’t do tech support, you need to contact this number…” and wait it out hoping and praying someone gets what you’re saying and either replaces the hardware or gives you some crap excuse about warranty.

In the iPhone land, I walk up to an Apple reseller like NextByte or Apple Stores direct, meet with their “Genius” (which is definitely an overloaded term in Apple Store setting) watch them attempt to figure out the issue followed by an immediate “we’ll have to send this way to get fixed for you” response.

You wait 3-5 business days and then you get an email saying your phone is ready but on closer inspection you soon realise it is not your old phone after all but a new or refurbished phone instead.

The point overall is this. The game has changed, Apple have reset a lot of the rules around not just the shape and operating system(s) of these devices and their features, they’ve also introduced us to a support workflow that despite it still having a lot of flaws and negativity attached after you meet with them, is still the one-stop shop.

My wife has seen me return iPhones due to cracked glass, she has seen me get them back brand new and has only noticed me getting angry at having to be without a phone for n-days.

To her, this is the way it should be to now encourage her to sit down at a Telstra store and figure a way around this issue is simply to hard basket thinking. She’d rather just withdrawal $799 from our back account, drive over to the Apple Store on the weekend, buy the new iPhone 4s and re-join the herd with all her other friends that own one.

You cannot argue with that either, its fair and reasonable thinking given the market conditions and aspirations being made around phones.

Thankfully though I still have an iPhone 4 without the “s” so I was able to convince her to not spend $799 but take my old iPhone4 given I now have an iPhone4s.

Now to buy an XBOX 360 Kinect with the money I saved…

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Metrotastic– Palette Generator Preview.

I’ve been thinking about how to approach metro designs for the past year now, there’s a lot to the mechanics of getting the metro into what I call a “golden ratio” like state – that is to say, I think due to the simplicity of the design(s) you can achieve the bulk of the effort required by metro using mathematics and layout / proportions that are OCD / consistent

Tonight, I sat down inside Adobe Photoshop and decided to draw a line at the overall Resource Dictionary creation for some of the WPF/Silverlight and Windows Phone 7 projects I often work on. In doing this, I decided the first thing one needs to attack with a metro design is the color selection.

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Color choice is important in the Microsoft style of Metro designs (I call it ms-metro as the word metro is getting to be an overloaded term, departing from the core design principles outlined), as you’ll note that Metro designs to date a really monochrome in the way they handle the selection of colors – to be upfront, I think they rely too heavily on primary colors and by not using shades of the primary / accent colors the designs come off to shallow / unpolished – helps to provide light/dark/normal contrasts imho.

I decide that in most of my designs I typically rest on 3-4 color choices overall – including the chrome (dark or light). These are often the basis for my design canvas and from here it’s really about balancing out the decals, typography and deciding how the overall screens and data flow.

More on this subject when I finish my brand reset (I’m redesigning riagenic.com and introducing metrotastic.com as well – more later).

In this post though, I thought it would be a good idea to provide a quick overview of my thinking here to gather some feedback?

Color Choice.

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If you look at most brands around the world, they typically rely on dark/light in terms of a canvas base and from there it’s really down to one to two primary colors (Google etc. the exception – where they have more than two).

Combining this and along with a concept I notice in most modern cars today where what I call an “input” color exists – pop the hood of your car, notice the yellow parts? That means it’s safe to touch, the rest leave it to the mechanics.

Looking at the below, I’ve isolated the theme into three color choices starting with Normal as being the primary color choice. Once the primary has been nominated then it’s a case of mixing some white/black to provide you shading contrasts.

Shades of Normal.

The shading is bit of a guestimation at this point, but so far I’ve rested on an 80 or 30% split. In that, using these two values with a white/black shading over the top of the base you can achieve a contrast setting that’s quite palette friendly to the ms-metro look and feel.

The shades themselves also have slight adjustment requirements depending on how you use them in your UI as if you use the darkest shade as your background for example (as in the below example) then you have to account for how your foreground is going to look that will differ from say your lightest color choice – the point is if you have a dark/light theme switch you need to adjust not just the base color selection but also foreground colors to accommodate the shading contrasts.

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Chrome vs Brand

Inside a lot of my designs I use chrome decals, despite what Microsoft often preach around letting UI breathe, I still prefer to use decals to help provide separation amongst areas – imho, Microsoft UI is often barren and flat! We saw hints of this when a designer soon after the Windows 8 release whereby he designed a fake Steam UI which was an example of additive decals.

My approach in doing this is to separate the chrome into its own color channel and with its own set of shades of contrast (lighter,light, normal, dark, darker).

The same also goes for Input (ie using the car metaphor above), I typically will often spend a lot of time at kuler.adobe.com playing around with colors before I find a color that matches the branding (primary) nicely – in this case I prefer a blue/green/gray color selection.

You can add a fourth palette to this, but in all honesty when you start getting to around the fourth color choice things get a bit interesting in the color / contrast department – dangerous design imho.

An example.

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Using the color palette(s) here I quickly knocked up a fake basic demo UI in metro style.

With the example, I put in a radial gradient starting with DARK-Gray and DARKER-Gray and simply put the radial gradient in the upper left area – it gives the UI that dull spotlight effect.

I then put the NORMAL-Blue as the accent color here, whereby the blues role in this design is to act as an opposing contrast to the chrome – you’ll often see this in ms-metro around say designs like Contoso etc.

The menu and most of the text uses the colors in the Darker TEST palette, but the thing to note here is I used the Normal-Blue as a selection state. In that whilst the green indicates input, the blue however is used to indicate current selection state. I’ve played around with this for a while now and in all honesty it annoys me personally how this works as to me input color should be consistent? But yet it works?

I should point out that I often will just use this technique in terms of giving users a spatial understanding of where they are in the user interface(s). In tests I’ve done with users over the past 2-3 years using this technique, they’ve never bucked the concept or idea – if anything have made consistent notary that this approach “feels right” – so despite some UX / UI colleagues giving me advice to avoid it, so far, the data says “you’re not right and your not wrong either” J (everyone becomes a UX expert over night mind you).

The Green in this UI stands out more, it highlights that these buttons are safe to touch and they are the focal point of input and like I said, provides that experience similar to popping the hood of your car. In all the tests that I’ve done in usability / ux over the last year or so, every single time the user has found their way around with minimal eLearning / Advice required – I have a theory that it has a link to how we humans handle perceptional organization when dealing with working memory (ie grab a few clipart pics, pick two categories the same and put them into a grid with 4 others that aren’t, then ask the candidates to tell you which two are the same and measure their reaction time – I should discuss this more, as its quite fascinating to see how peoples IQ matches to UX with a fairly consistent rate of predictability).

Conclusion.

I have plans to really drill deeper into this area of design and I think I’m really only just scratching the surface of this conversation. The more I get asked to design metro themes for various Microsoft applications the more I question the overall strategy given for me this is quite simple stuff, yet it seems to be in high demand.

I enjoy working on it all now, I used to laugh at it but for me now the approach is getting much simpler by the day and I’d like to see the overall community raise the bar a bit more around this design language – that is to say, I really want to see what others do as I’m starving for alternative inspiration in this arena of metro-tastic design school.

Here is a sneak preview of my upcoming reset

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Some Color Examples

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Just an old observation about Apple.

Over the past week I’ve been quite busy writing a Product Strategy for a mining consultancy who today has a very specific niche offering here in Australia. The company is for me personally a fun place to be in, despite the weirdness of working for the mining industry (if you’re going to innovative UX, trust me, mining companies have the investment and vision to allow it).

The reason I like this gig and the work that we do is we are essentially focused on a market or idea around what the mining industry should look like from a geological standpoint over the next x-years. Loads of data that need user experience driven solutions to help unravel it.

I won’t go into details about what specifically the above means (as with this company, I actually have an NDA this time 🙂 ), suffice to say we are focused and in the course of writing this strategy combined with the constant RSS feeds over the last 72hrs about Steve Jobs that it hit me what makes Apple such a powerful force today.

They are focused.

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Looking at Apple’s website, you see they are in a number of products but the more you look at each individual product and how they relate to one another it’s clear there is a coherent strategy in place. There is still a case of multiple threads flowing at once yet they are still interconnected at some point.

I look at the iPhone and then look at the Macbook’s on offer and one can sit back and easily assume that the iPhone is an extension of the Macbook that the idea is to get you into the iPhone ownership whilst then bait you into the desktop solution there after – it just works right?

Everything in Apple orbits the iPhone, its realistically today the center of all products that Apple produce’s gravity, it’s clear to me personally they are focused on a strategy – how well the retain custody of this vision or strategy with the passing of Steve Jobs is yet to be written, suffice to say they have one of the best foundations to build from.

I observe often just how focused Apple.com has become as a website, every line of text, every picture right down to the consistency in design seems to say “we have an idea, wouldn’t it be cool…”

To put it in perspective on the influence, I watched a colleague of mine – better to not name him – design Microsoft.com/web (which imho kills on all Microsoft.com sites). I watched him sit down and do everything in his power to avoid opening Apple.com and it’s not because he hates Apple or drinks the Microsoft kool aid, quite the opposite he’s at heart a pure designer – one of the best I know – he avoided opening it because he wanted to beat it because he appeared to want to put Microsoft’s best foot forward and not have a site like Apple overshadow it.

He had a lot of fools in his way, but he navigated the mess with class and kept a strategic focus on a simple principle – user experience first around the products he managed.

My point is this, Apple and Microsoft are opposite from one another, we all get that but if one thing about writing my 8th Product Strategy and living by the a sense of “focus on the user experience and work your way back” has taught me, that at times you just need the Bill Gates, Steve Jobs etc of this corporate focused discipline we call the software industry to just do what they do best and stop crowding them with bullshit and have a point or focus.

Microsoft, Adobe and even Google just seem to have this scatter shot approached to product strategy & marketing.

Personally, it’s quite frustrating to just watch given their huge amount of potential they have? We should have 10 Steve Jobs personas in our industry with the same level of UX focus for a brand? That’s what people are probably the most down about in his passing – who’s going to lead us now?

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Steve got the Job done.

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I’m not one to subscribe to celebs etc., but today Steve Jobs dying did leave me a pondering the power of how one person made such a huge impact.

I have heaps of positive / negative stories about Apple etc., but the one that stands out the most is the day the iPhone 3Gs was released in the US.

On that day, I was on Microsoft campus after working through the night on a project – cannot remember what the project was – and it was around 7am I decided to call it a day. I shut down my computer and remembered that this was the day Apple was going to release their new phone, I wanted one because I still had my Australian iPhone but figured I can wait until next month when all the madness dies down.

I got in my red 2010 mustang (loved that car), pulled out of Building 17 and drove towards my house in Sammamish only I figured I’d swing past the local Redmond AT&T store to see if there were any Apple nutters lining up as maybe because the store is so close to Microsoft campus there won’t be as many people queuing up (Microsoft internally was very weird around Apple hardware ownership as you can imagine).

I slowly drove down the main street towards the railway line and there it was a queue that ran all the way around the block and then some. Looking more closely I noticed a few familiar Microsoft faces and could see heaps of blue tagged swipe cards attached to peoples belts like some weird Texas ranger police badge.

I smiled, we compete daily with Apple but here inside the heartland of Microsoft there were staffers queued up like the rest of the stores around the US all keen to get their hands on the iPhone 3Gs.

I later heard a rumor that over 30,000 Microsoft staffers per day used iPhones to connect to their emails.

This phone came from the creation of many at Apple, Steve Jobs was their leader and maybe he was the ideas man but in the end it took teams of people to execute on those ideas. The man not only made an impact on my career and continues to do so, but I watched an entire company take deep collective breathes at nearly every WDDC, I watched internal mailing lists fire up and lots of internal debates around how “Apple are copying us” and “Steve Jobs is <insert negative/positive comments here>” and even today as I watch my wife struggle to force herself into an optimism bias fueled acceptance of the Windows Phone 7 she holds in her hands whilst staring at my iPhone4 with envy – you just can’t but help this was a moment in my lifetime that I probably won’t see in a hurry – the man died, can you believe that? Isn’t he some kind of immortal tech geek god personality?

Today, I own 3xMacbook Pros, 4x Apple TVs, 3x iPods, 4x iPhones, 2xiPad, 1x iMac and next week I’ll also own the iPhone 4S (aka iPhone 4 Steve). I buy these products because they inspire me creatively not through their unique designs but how others add to the design(s). I care less about the Mac culture and I spend a fortune on Apple daily to the point where it annoys the hell out of me at how expensive it is to be a customer of the brand.

Simply put, I find little to complain about and I agree with most of what Steve Jobs has done in the past and the way he’s set us up for the future.

I look at the iPhone Siri and just think to myself – that is really cool? Like if it can do as the ads say it can, this is going to be a game changer for business women/men worldwide. The camera looks amazing and that’s enough for me to drop $799 AUD next week.

Everyone else’s reaction was “meh”.

How far have we come today where there is a phone that has the potential to take on the role of Ironman JARVIS like intelligence that we turn and just throw down and have a technology tantrum?

Steve Jobs not only influenced me on an industrial design & interface level but I look at my 3D portfolio and often catch myself daydreaming about what it would be like to work at PIXAR – a company I’d often joke about “leaving my wife and kids to work for” with a friend of mine who used to play sport with my family every Saturday in Seattle who used to work for PIXAR.

I don’t subscribe to celebrity nonsense, but with this guy, I was hooked like a school girl watching a Justin Beiber concert.

Today, the myth of the man got bigger whilst the enemy of mediocrity got one leader shorter.

I hold Microsoft to high standard and will beat them up often over it and have a mixed result around success but I do so because of guys like Steve Jobs. The dude’s a fucking legend – enuf said.

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Decoding Windows 8 UX Principles– Let Context breathe instead of the UI!

Last night I was sitting in a child psychologist office watching my son undergo a whole heap of cognitive testing (given he has a rare condition called Trisomy 8 Mosaicism) and in that moment I had what others would call a “flash” or “epiphany” (i.e. theory is we get ideas based on a network of ideas that pre-existed).

The flash came about from watching my son do a few Perceptional Reasoning Index tests. The idea in these tests is to have a group of imagery (grid form) and they have to basically assign semantic similarities between the images (ball, bat, fridge, dog, plane would translate to ball and bat being the semantic similarities).

This for me was one of those ahah! Moments. You see, for me when I first saw the Windows 8 opening screen of boxes / tiles being shown with a mixed message around letting the User Interface “breathe” combined with ensuring a uniform grid / golden ratio style rant … I just didn’t like it.

There was something about this approach that for me I just instantly took a dislike. Was it because I was jaded? Was it because I wanted more? ..there was something I didn’t get about it.

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Over the past few days I’ve thought more about what I don’t like about it and the most obvious reaction I had was around the fact that we’re going to rely on imagery to process which apps to load and not load. Think about that, you are now going to have images some static whilst others animated to help you guage which one of these elements you need to touch/mouse click in order to load?

re-imagining or re-engineering the problem?

This isn’t re-imagining the problem, its simply taken a broken concept form Apple and made it bigger so instead of Icons we now have bigger imagery to process.

Just like my son, your now being attacked at Perceptional Reasoning level on which of these “items are the same or similar” and given we also have full control over how these boxes are to be clustered, we in turn will put our own internal taxonomy into play here as well…. Arrghh…

Now I’m starting to formulate an opinion that the grid box layout approach is not only not solving the problem but its actually probably a usability issue lurking (more testing needs to be had and proven here I think).

Ok, I’ve arrived at a conscious opinion on why I don’t like the front screen, now what? The more I thought about it the more I kept coming back to the question – “Why do we have apps and why do we cluster them on screens like this”

The answer isn’t just a Perspective Memory rationale, the answer really lies in the context in which we as humans lean on software for our daily activities. Context is the thread we need to explore on this screen, not “Look I can move apps around and dock them” that’s part of the equation but in reality all you are doing is mucking around with grouping information or data once you’ve isolated the context to an area of comfort – that or you’re still hunting / exploring for the said data and aren’t quite ready to release (in short, you’re accessing information in working memory and processing the results real-time).

As the idea is beginning to brew, I think about to sources of inspiration – the user interfaces I have loved and continue to love that get my design mojo happening. User interfaces such as the one that I think captures the concept of Metro better than what Microsoft has produced today – the Microsoft Health / Productivity Video(s).

 

Back to the Fantasy UI for Inspiration

If you analyze the attractive elements within these videos what do you notice the most? For me it’s a number of things.

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I notice the fact that the UI is simple and in a sense “metro –paint-by-numbers” which despite their basic composition is actually quite well done.

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I notice the User Interface is never just one composition that the UI appears to react to the context of usage for the person and not the other way around. Each User Interface has a role or approach that carries out a very simplistic approach to a problem but done so in a way that feels a lot more organic.

In short, I notice context over and over.

I then think back to a User Interface design I saw years ago at Adobe MAX. It’s one of my favorites, in this UI Adobe were showing off what they think could be the future of entertainment UI, in that they simply have a search box on screen up top. The default user interface is somewhat blank providing a passive “forcing function” on the end user to provide some clues as to what they want.

The user types the word “spid” as their intent is Spiderman. The User Interface reacts to this word and its entire screen changes to the theme of Spiderman whilst spitting out movies, books, games etc – basically you are overwhelmed with context.

Crazy huh?

I look at Zune, I type the word “the Fray” and hit search, again, contextual relevance plays a role and the user interface is now reacting to my clues.

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I look back now at the Microsoft Health videos and then back to the Windows 8 Screens. The videos are one in the same with Windows 8 in a lot of ways but the huge difference is one doesn’t have context it has apps.

The reality is, most of the Apps you have has semantic data behind (except games?) so in short why are we fishing around for “apps” or “hubs” when we should all be reimagineering the concept of how an operating system of tomorrow like Windows 8 accommodates a personal level of both taxonomy and contextual driven usage that also respects each of our own cognitive processing capabilities?

Now I know why I dislike Windows 8 User Interface, as the more I explore this thread the more I look past the design elements and “WoW” effects and the more I start coming to the realization that in short, this isn’t a work of innovation, it simply a case of taking existing broken models on the market today and declaring victory on them because it’s now either bigger or easier to approach from a NUI perspective.

There isn’t much reimagination going on here, it’s more reengineering instead. There is a lot of potential here for smarter, more innovative and relevant improvements on the way in which we interact with software of tomorrow.

I gave a talk similar to this at local Seattle Design User Group once. Here’s the slides but I still think it holds water today especially in a Windows 8 futures discussion.

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Windows 8, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and how Genius is non-transferable.

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I stumbled upon a blog post that I think should be titled – Genius is non-transferable. Nice up beat post about the influence of one Mr Steve Jobs and how his departure is affecting the future of Apple via a thought inspiring post.

This got me thinking about the day Bill Gates officially retired from Microsoft. I was on campus at the time and I remember everyone that I was near talked about this moment and there was a weird vibe around confidence levels. Most brushed his departure as the old guy has left the building, he didn’t do much anyway these days? Others who were more senior and seasoned didn’t follow this thread of thinking. Instead, they were more conservative and gave lofty responses like “we’ll see..” hinting that we as a company have only just began a journey of success vs. failure ahead.

Today, Amazon has setup shop right near Microsoft and recently the company lost or was expected to lose over 3,000+ staff to the ….online bookseller? storage in the cloud? company?. …Google, Facebook etc. have also setup shop just outside the borders of Redmond as well with I’m sure equal numbers of the 3,000 likely to occur as well.

How does the Amazon staff hiring blitz have anything to do with the topic at hand? Its simple for the first time in the history of Microsoft not only does the company have just as rich competitors today, but they also have their medium level competitors parked outside their village. This is a small but equally important issue as now not only is Microsoft HR departments on notice that they need to improve their metrics around success and fail but it also has a significant impact on the quality bands of their products (ie key staff leaving? Good or bad? Depends…)

Pre-Bill Gates.

Pre-Bill Gates departure, Microsoft was still a chaotic organization filled with typical large enterprise issues but it in turn was kept in check by a guy who remember outsmarted the beloved Steve Jobs on a number of business related tactics over the years. You worked hard to outsmart Bill in the organization and he did have a cultural impact on staff – prime example, ThinkWeek Papers.

Post-Bill Gates

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Post Bill Gates, well products aren’t doing that great other than Windows 7 but in reality Windows7’s success is really a false positive given if you remove Windows XP from the market and force business/consumers down a path – it’s what I’d call a duress driven success.

You have a staff exodus problem occurring and furthermore you have no cohesive strategy around marketing products that at the end of the day are technically well built – Microsoft’s always had a marketing issue never really a technical one.

Windows 8 Predictions

Next month, Mini-Steve (Sinofsky) is keen to jump on stage and release the momentum he’s spent months ratcheting around the future of Windows8. The prediction here is simple, he’s going to unload a device-operating system, and he’s going to outline Jupiter but paying close attention to promoting it as an animation framework only while throwing most of his weight around HTML5/JavaScript/Internet Explorer as being the Web Application of tomorrow.

This is going to give people their Microsoft high for the year, then in the following September 2012, he’s going to come back and officially release this to the world thus removing MIX Online from our memories for ever more.

While this is happening he’s then going to spend energy & time building out the desktop concept of Windows as we know it today whilst factoring in the disruption of Windows8 Device / ARM Operating system and its effects on the market.

Apple in turn are going to spend a lot more budget / cycles now to rebuild confidence now that Mr Jobs has stepped down for what we all know now sadly, health reasons. Inside Microsoft they will see this as a moment of weakness, the beloved General has fallen – storm the gates, hard and fast.

This is a software storm of under qualified sugar overloaded officers at best who are going to promise us the world, the future of a brilliant tomorrow when it comes to vNext Software.

The underlying impact here for all of you to consider and the moment in which I personally just shake my head and sigh.

There’s no Steve Jobs and Bill Gates anymore, just punks who think they have the capabilities that these old warhorses once had.

These two didn’t accidently impact our lives worldwide in a once off streak of luck, they had consistent measure of success over the years in everything they did and we in turn backed their abilities in one way or another.

We had confidence.

Today, you look at the landscape of software companies and what they are all busy right now pushing and pulling the industry into what it should be and you have to ask yourself a simple question?

Are you confident we are on the right path now? If that answers no, kind of or not stacking into the majority of “Yes” column. Then we have a problem and future CEO’s like mini-Steve may think he’s got the winning formula but in truth, he’s been too busy copying Steve Jobs/Bill Gates homework he’s not taken time to learn from what they’ve failed and succeeded at.

Inside Microsoft, watch guys like Scott Guthrie as whilst everyone is running towards Windows 8 / Windows Phone 7 gravy train(s), he’s walking towards Azure, a spot where you can easily hide for a while and let the mob fall on top of each other over Windows 8 / Windows 7 device rush.

Mark my words, he’s the one you should all keep an eye on as he has potential to one day become the next Bill Gates / Steve Jobs for Microsoft or maybe a competitor should he jump ship to?(minus the creative part of course).

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Windows Azure is still a science project *sad face*

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I’ve been putting of an expedition to navigate the cloud for quite some time. I have done so as I’m the type of personality that likes to wait for technology to grow a little before jumping in feet first (call it lessons learnt from the school of bleeding edge knocks).

Recently however, I’ve come across a problem in my architectural design that required the use of a external gateway for publish/subscription messaging. The problem came about due to inbound firewall issues, in that tunneling out of a corporations network is fairly easy, tunneling back in is next to impossible as I’m really now putting the IT Department on notice – “I’m now going to try and crack a window open in your firewall, game on”.

Armed with this problem I decided to check out both Amazon and Azure. I have heard more positive things about Amazon but the seduction of being allowed to use my beloved .NET + VisualStudio crutch and talk directly to Azure via this is too much to pass up.

After spending a day or two waiting for Azure to give me access to an account, I ran straight into the Management Portal with a glint in my eye and a large amount of creative hope. I should also point out at this stage the login page for the portal was down for hours (Not reassuring I must say).

A Messaging Saga

I looked at the ServiceBus that comes in what I guess (at best) as the first release of Azure, but it didn’t have the messaging capabilities I needed. Scratching my head and remembering a presentation I saw recently around this very subject I kept wondering what I am missing.

After more googling I managed to find out the problem. I was looking at the wrong portal for ServiceBus when I should be looking at the AppFabric version of the ServiceBus. Confused? It gets better.

image

I then manage to crack open a CTP release of Azure and proceed to write a test harness to see how one can tunnel in and out of a firewall using port 80 and some weird science project that I don’t fully understand but is similar to MSMQ.

Success! I was grinning now, Azure saves the day. I can forgive the constant state of confusion I had in kick starting the journey because now I can get messages inbound/outbound to my networks via Azure. As I have to get two separate networks to react to events from one another (ones remote while the other is in HQ).

I then deploy my test app to Windows XP Service Pack 3. As majority of the laptops that corporation uses is still Windows XP – may I also add 60% of the world’s PC’s .

It broke. Problem?

System.Diagnostics.Eventing

Framework Version: v4.0.30319
Description: The process was terminated due to an unhandled exception.
Exception Info: System.PlatformNotSupportedException
Stack:
   at System.Diagnostics.Eventing.EventProvider.EtwRegister()
   at System.Diagnostics.Eventing.EventProvider..ctor(System.Guid)
   at Microsoft.ServiceBus.Tracing.MessagingEtwProvider..ctor()
   at Microsoft.ServiceBus.Tracing.MessagingEtwProvider.get_Provider()
   at Microsoft.ServiceBus.Messaging.Sbmp.SbmpMessageSender.TraceSend(System.Collections.Generic.IEnumerable`1<Microsoft.ServiceBus.Messaging.BrokeredMessage>)
   at Microsoft.ServiceBus.Messaging.Sbmp.SbmpMessageSender.OnSend(System.Collections.Generic.IEnumerable`1<Microsoft.ServiceBus.Messaging.BrokeredMessage>, System.TimeSpan)
   at Microsoft.ServiceBus.Messaging.MessageSender.Send(System.Collections.Generic.IEnumerable`1<Microsoft.ServiceBus.Messaging.BrokeredMessage>, System.TimeSpan)
   at Microsoft.ServiceBus.Messaging.MessageSender.Send(Microsoft.ServiceBus.Messaging.BrokeredMessage)
   at AzureQueue.Demo.Common.AzureServiceBus.Send(System.String, AzureQueue.Demo.Common.Messages.IMessage)
   at AzureQueue.Demo.Server.Program.Main(System.String[])

Sadly, the team who wrote ServiceBus relies on this ball of code to handle its AppFabric event tracking (I can see the upside as you get a healthy amount of data via AppFabric on how things are flowing in and out).

My point here however is simple. The cloud isn’t supposed to be platform specific it’s supposed to be agnostic enough to deal with these issues. If you now impose a Windows Vista and above release matrix, you are not really convincing people to go to the cloud?

Furthermore Azure doesn’t have access to Virtual Machines in the cloud as whilst one could sit there and stare at how Roles work within the Azure hosted service offerings and achieve a cloud like nosebleed, in the end I’d rather get a VM up and running and then start to break down the habitual tendencies of an organization slowly, piece by piece via the cloud vs. having to hit a magical reset button on brown-field projects which later turn into greenfield?

Furthermore, how does Azure team anticipate breaking in and out of firewalls securely? As it’s one thing to say “Store you stuff in the cloud” but it’s entirely different matter to not only swallow that bitter pill but tunnel in and out of networks to achieve this?

Answer was Azure Connect.

Awesome, when can I get a copy? Answer is below. I’m “Pending” I’m not sure what that means or where I am in the approval process or what the approval process is?

image

The more I use the Azure services, the more I get the feeling it’s still in science project mode. There’s a lot missing and the stuff you have in front of you just doesn’t add value to existing problems that I can foresee in most organizations (not just my immediate pain points but as I cast my mind back to previous roles or when as a Microsoft Evangelist I’d visit large partners and hear their pain points often, I just can’t simply see an upside to running full speed into the Azure camp).

Amazon or bust??

Looking at Amazon and its services it’s clearly a front runner when it comes to maturity. All of the above is done today and I get instant access. I’ve got access to Amazon VPC through to its own version of Service Bus which doesn’t impose platform limitations my way. I also can provision a Virtual Instance in minutes and not have to apply for access?

I could sit here and tell you how a large gold partner of Microsoft’s just walked away from Azure with contempt and disappointment but that’s kind of a shallow blow given it’s going to fall on deaf ears anyway.

I don’t care about that, what I am wondering is what is the Azure team actually thinking about when it comes to this product line? Do they have a plan? Are they close to delivering this plan? Are they really going to impose Platform limitations upfront given the whole point of the cloud is to shift organizations from legacy into the new?

Is the ticket entry to Azure a case of “you must be a greenfield site” before you can begin?

Are they paying attention to Amazon?

Azure ecosystem reminds me of a cartoon I once saw where these group of people were all rushing towards a cliff but they couldn’t see the cliff coming because the dust they were kicking up created the cloud. One character asked “Where are we going?” and the other responds “I don’t know, something about the cloud. That’s not important, I just want to be first!”

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WP7 Developers! Developers! Devel…wtf is the designers?

I just noticed something about the overall Windows Phone 7 community outreach story. Well I’ve noticed a few things, but the main thing I noticed was the designer haven is non-existent. Looking at the Create.MSDN site which for me appears to be the front-door to “getting-started” with Windows Phone 7, there appears to be no upsell or solicitation in anyway for the “design” community to pay attention to Windows Phone 7.

Huge mistake firstly.

image

The reason this is not a bright start to the phone, is if you look at all the successful apps on the iPhone and even Android market-places, there actual apps clearly have someone with design muscle flexing their wares proactively. Inside the Windows Phone 7 ethos, it’s admittedly paint by numbers style design (Metro) but still there is potential vein of richness here should you but show some bread-crumbs.

The major selling point for Windows Phone 7 is metro, folks inside the WP7 marketing team can flog “apps” all they like, but in my opinion I’d declare the phone having apps as hygiene (i.e. Well? I expected you to have them so what? you want a high five?..what else you got?). Metro is the differentiator, despite my grievances with User Interface experience(s) I do recognize that pushing these bitter points aside, the phone needs to focus on this and this alone when it comes to the consumers?

Sitting down and having designed a UI for this phone for an upcoming (reveled later) I’m a little frustrated at the amount of Googling (Yes, I said Google, not Bing. Bing is an ass backwards Search engine imho) I’ve had to spend in finding vector icons, inspiration (design stealing) and lastly techniques / resources others have framed when it comes to handling design related issues.

For instance, I’m not a fan of accent colors inside the phone – in that I like certain amount of colors but Red, Green and Orange are imho off-limits. The reason being is most situations that call for “state” often rely on a stop-light palette. If you have your entire UI Green and you have “You’re now connected” green highlight somewhere, well..it gets lost in the accent theme.

On top of that the dark/light auto-inversing is a funny beast to tackle. I get that it inverses the color palette’s in a fairly smart way at the same time it catches you a little off guard when you sit down to design. As now you have to keep that in the forefront of your mind whilst designing and at the same time accommodating for foreground and accent color adjustments as they occur.

To a developer this is simply state flipping in and out but for an average designer that’s a lot of conscious palette planning / thinking going on there and not a lot of resources around hinting at that either (Try googling that now, tell me what you find!).

These are the typical scenarios you’re likely to face as a designer, the techniques that go beyond “Look mah, I used the default color palette and I managed to ship! gimme my $1million app store sales now mkay!” moments.  It goes deeper and you can’t rely on external blogging threads to carry this workload. As they also have a habit of becoming out dated mixed with spam sites re-gurgitating your blog feeds as their own in order to sucker punch you with Google ads.

My point is simple, the designers are clearly not part of the conversation here and whilst developers, developers  and developers is the normal mantra of Microsoft it’s also the major reason you’re failing at the products. If you want proof, go check out he MSDN metrics around Expression sales and uptake of Silverlight solutions that go beyond the default theme(s) created by either Microsoft or Telerik, ComponentOne, Infragistics etc.

Paint by numbers gets you the default positioning of your product and nothing is wrong with prescribed UI. That is until you scope out the iPhone AppStore reviews long enough to see that your application now needs to do something beyond Tip Calculators / FlashLights and Twitter feeds. If you come up short on Function then you better at least deliver on Form.

Microsoft’s AppStore is filled with overloaded function it now needs personality and it needs more design focused bloodlines to underpin the Metro differentiation. If Microsoft can’t factor this into the outbound marketing today, then at least make a start as this will also set Microsoft up for a stronger position for when Windows 8 arrives (given Metro seems to be full steam ahead).

Point and case. Try for giggles, re-create the Office UI inside Wp7 today without leaving Create.MSDN.com and using the default Icons out of the directory found buried inside Program Files (which somehow we’re supposed to inherently know)?

How about Brandon  (Marketing Director for Wp7) take the $1k ransom for Scott Adams (Dilbert) and put that towards the funding for hiring a designer minded person to run the wp7 community outbound initiatives. There’s a lot of people who could lift that burden and if anyone in Microsoft want some recommendations, ping me, I’ve got a list of candidates.

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Please welcome the XAML platform team to Windows!

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I got word of a leaked email early yesterday that confirmed what I had been told in passing gossip – the XAML team being disbanded.

This morning I awoke to not just one email but five of them from my various sources all attached with mixed opinions on what it means. Here is my famous (internally in Microsoft, I would send these style of emails about Adobe and their competitive threats) "What Just Happened" response.

We’re pleased to announce the transition of the XAML
platform team from the Developer Division to the Windows team.  While the
team has been working side-by-side with the Windows team for the entire project,
this step brings them into our team formally. 

It is time to start moving the battleships into the attack formation. In that time to start the consolidation into the new ux platform we are about to remake again.

On the upside it means you have a consolidated outcome likely to hit our hard-drives in the next 2-3 years on the downside you have what I would call a technology freeze in effect. If the new iteration of WPF or Silverlight does not comply with the vNext vision, do not hold your breath for a new announcement anytime soon that does not involve Windows 8 future(s).

The team will continue their work on Windows 8 as planned
and will join our Developer Experience (DEVX) team. This transition allows us
to bring together our platform development team in a single-management
structure.

That doesn’t sound to bad, I mean on the surface its just a single management restructure. A day in the life of a Microsoftee where every fiscal year or often more than once you are given new managers because the strategy – scratch that – tactics have changed. That in itself is probably your biggest hint of all around the word commitment, this is not just a case of waiting for a restructure to occur once every 5 years – it happens often.

To clarify, do you keep swapping your generals around in war to the point where the troops effectively stop caring who they are reporting to? Probably not a smart idea but nonetheless.

The dev, test, and pm leaders who will be leading the
team reporting to AlesH, YvesN, and LindaAv are:

• Sujal Parikh, Development Manager 
• Eduardo Leal-Tostado, Test Manager 
• Joe Stegman, Group Program Manager

The leads and individuals joining our team are receiving
this mail and have received communication on next steps.

If most of you who have been involved in the Silverlight ethos are reading then the name, Joe Stegman will probably stand out the most. Joe’s background in the .NET space goes back a ways but in the end Joe’s really been one of the guys under the hierarchy crust of commitment pledges keeping things in the development side of things in check. Officiating his role further in this equation for me is a bit puzzling as it’s kind of the same thing different org tree?

These changes in leadership and organization are
effective today.  For the purposes of finishing out the fiscal year and
the performance review process the team will operate under the existing
management structure.

That is a swift maneuver. Nothing surprising though.

Now onto Soma’s email to the troops which kicked the previous email off (Notice how VP’s etc all pile on from one another with "what he said was.." like somehow being apart of the thread is being seen as a role of importance. Classic Microsoft Victory Email formula, just once I’d like them to send out just one email outlining the change. This is what I’m talking about when I say Microsoft Culture is retarded.

I digress.

MICROSOFT CONFIDENTIAL

Over the last couple of years, our Client and Mobile team
has done a fantastic job of building a number of XAML related technologies that
have been a huge value add to the Microsoft client platforms and an
instrumental part of delighting our developer customers.  The agility and
customer focus that the team has demonstrated over the years has been a
pleasure to watch.

Ooops. Btw this was supposed to be confidential. So do not tell anybody.

Over the last couple of years? From memory, I recall WPF being around for more than a couple of years? Never mind, I keep forgetting everyone internally has forgotten about WPF.

Soma is kind of saying, "thanks for the hard work troops, you managed to outpace most products in Microsoft with your constant brilliance around the word agility, which being said here comes the but to that placating statement.

Today, we are making some organization changes to bring
our platform technologies under a single management structure.  These
changes are centered around three focus areas:

• The team working on XAML technologies for Windows will
move to Windows.

• The team working on XAML technologies for Windows
Phone, Xbox and browser plugin will move to Windows Phone. 

• The Client and Mobile tools teams, including Windows
Phone tools and XAML tools, will stay in DevDiv.

These changes are all effective immediately.  From a
performance review perspective, we will do this year’s performance review under
the DevDiv organization model.

"Today marks a new day troops, for we storm a new beach" is kind of the response to that next piece.

Firstly you have parts of the XAML team(s) parked inside the Windows organization. First impressions on twitter are that "Way to go! Means XAML and Windows are finally going to get along and create awesome XAML experiences"

Have I not shown you the Annie video? Moreover, have I discussed the Orphan Syndrome? "My dad’s going to come for me, he’s rich you…you..you just wait and see"

To me that read as being a case of cherry picking parts of the team to socket into the windows division and their new coding charter will come next. If it involves XAML it will be based around what XAML vNext is likely to be – HTML5 meets Jupiter.

Same with the Phone team, it is what I would call "please standby for further orders" moments.

As for the tooling teams, well you got Cider and Expression Blend team is what that really comes back to. Given most of the Client employees have left, I am not sure what that means suffice to say I am not holding out for a new release for Sketchflow for starters and I am guessing that the Blend teams are not exactly getting high fives for poor sales and download rates to date. If I were in that team, I would be updating my LinkedIn account quickly.

I want to thank Kevin Gallo and the team for all the
great work that they have done over the years.  Moving forward, I’m very
excited to bring the client platform efforts closer to the platform
teams.  There is a lot of very exciting and critical work underway as part
of our next wave of platform releases and I am very eagerly looking forward to
seeing the team’s work in the hands of our developers and customers.

Remember when Mary Jo posted a while back on how Kevin Gallo would be taking over the reins of Scott Guthrie. That’s probably the quickest promotion and I’m not ready to say demotion but I’m not ready to say continuance either – that I’ve seen?

The positive part there is the "next wave of platform releases" that sounds a lot like a continuation of what we have in front of us. Make no mistake there will be a Silverlight 5 and a WPF vNext released next fiscal, its already got most of the code done and it would be foolish to not release those when they can – especially after MIX2011.

Releasing those two would also buy you time for the next 2 fiscals at most. As by doing this you create this calming effect around "see, we’re still working on it..honest" to placate the developer hordes.

That is up to you, you can buy into that sure, and it is hard to debunk given there is not much visibility behind what we are likely to see next – especially given this is tradition within the Microsoft roadmap(s).

For me personally, I’d like to corner Microsoft If I could into giving more concrete assurances that whatever the next wave of bets are that they are either backwards compliance or have parity around what we have today in terms of conceptual features today.

Features for me are not will I be able to still hit F5 without changing code. Features for me are the concepts that are on the table today, around how one manages the out of browser and in-browser functionality – everything from casual gaming through to enterprise ready features (printing, isolated storage, data binding etc).

Going forward.

I think what has happened in this email is the equivalent of me saying "I really like this car, now can we take the wheels and put them over there. In addition, can you take the steering wheel and dashboard and put it over there. Lastly, can you take the engine and well. Just leave it in place for second; I’ll get back to you later on where we can put that next"

It’s clear there is a consolidation happening that I think we can all agree on early. How will the consolidation impact the average .NET developer is likely to be dramatic enough to warrant some applications having to have code refactored down the track – you will not escape that sorry.

Does this mean .NET is dead? Who actually knows what .NET vNext will be so it is hard to simply say "yes" and it could very well be a reset of .NET to fix a lot of pent up frustration in the way it sticks together today.

What I am certain of is WPF is definitely officially done. The chance of WPF going beyond what it is today is slim. Some journalists etc. will gloss over this as its not news but let me be clear in saying at Microsoft we really had no clue just how deeply seeded this product became.

In Australia it’s used quite heavily and it’s something I personally noticed whenever I used to travel around the country meeting Microsoft customers (both as an Evangelist and Product Manager). I used to send emails internally stating "I think we underestimated is usage, as it definitely appears to have more devs using than Silverlight" which was later brushed aside as being "Not realistic".

I think post September the announcements that are to follow will give these warnings probably some second thoughts around what parking WPF in the retired bay is likely to mean for Microsoft when it comes to the words "trust" and "commitment"

The product and developer satisfaction surveys for the last few years haven’t been something you’d brag about internally which for me indicates a strong sense of "fatigue" within the ranks of our beloved .NET developer communities.

It’s now one thing to announce what the next version of .NET will be its entirely different thing to convince and sell these fatigue customers that this is defiantly the bet this time. Silverlight, WPF and WinForm are available today and millions are shipping software solutions using them.

Microsoft now has to figure out a way to convince the millions that the "Windows 8" wave of vNext will fix all of these problems and more – and – will not require a reduction in feature parity along with extra boost in tooling.

If I know, my Microsoft and I like to think I do, good luck J

Full email below:

From: Julie Larson-Green
Sent: Monday, June 20, 2011 9:35 AM
To: Grant George; Jon DeVaan; Julie Larson-Green; John
Cable; Yves Neyrand; Craig Fleischman; Bambo C. Sofola; Scott Herrboldt; Greg
Chapman; Julie Bennett; Jeff Johnson; Ales Holecek; Mohammed El-Gammal; Chuck
Chan; Michael Fortin; Eric Traut; Jensen Harris; Linda Averett; Alex Simons
(WINDOWS); Gabriel Aul; Dennis Flanagan; Iain McDonald; Samuel Moreau; Dean Hachamovitch;
Michael Angiulo; Antoine Leblond; Tami Reller; Chris Jones (WINDOWS LIVE);
Jonathan Wiedemann; Ulrike Irmler; Adrianna Burrows
Cc: XAML Team; Kevin Gallo; S. Somasegar; Terry Myerson;
Sharman Mailloux Sosa; Brad Fringer; Steven Sinofsky
Subject: Please welcome the XAML platform team to
Windows!

We're pleased to announce the transition of the XAML
platform team from the Developer Division to the Windows team.  While the
team has been working side-by-side with the Windows team for the entire project,
this step brings them into our team formally.  

The team will continue their work on Windows 8 as planned
and will join our Developer Experience (DEVX) team. This transition allows us
to bring together our platform development team in a single-management
structure. 
The dev, test, and pm leaders who will be leading the
team reporting to AlesH, YvesN, and LindaAv are:

• Sujal Parikh, Development Manager 
• Eduardo Leal-Tostado, Test Manager 
• Joe Stegman, Group Program Manager 
The leads and individuals joining our team are receiving
this mail and have received communication on next steps.
 
These changes in leadership and organization are
effective today.  For the purposes of finishing out the fiscal year and
the performance review process the team will operate under the existing
management structure.

There will be an informal Q&A session today to
welcome everyone and answer any questions that folks might have.
• XAML team welcome – 2:00-3:00 in building 37/1701

Please join me in welcoming these folks to our
organization!
Julie
 

 

From: S. Somasegar 
Sent: Monday, June 20, 2011 9:16 AM
To: Client and Mobile Team
Cc: Developer Division FTE; Steven Sinofsky; Julie
Larson-Green; Terry Myerson; David Treadwell
Subject: Bringing together client platform efforts

MICROSOFT CONFIDENTIAL

Over the last couple of years, our Client and Mobile team
has done a fantastic job of building a number of XAML related technologies that
have been a huge value add to the Microsoft client platforms and an
instrumental part of delighting our developer customers.  The agility and
customer focus that the team has demonstrated over the years has been a
pleasure to watch.  

Today, we are making some organization changes to bring
our platform technologies under a single management structure.  These
changes are centered around three focus areas:
• The team working on XAML technologies for Windows will
move to Windows.
• The team working on XAML technologies for Windows
Phone, Xbox and browser plugin will move to Windows Phone.  
• The Client and Mobile tools teams, including Windows
Phone tools and XAML tools, will stay in DevDiv. 

These changes are all effective immediately.  From a
performance review perspective, we will do this year’s performance review under
the DevDiv organization model.

I want to thank Kevin Gallo and the team for all the
great work that they have done over the years.  Moving forward, I'm very
excited to bring the client platform efforts closer to the platform
teams.  There is a lot of very exciting and critical work underway as part
of our next wave of platform releases and I am very eagerly looking forward to
seeing the team’s work in the hands of our developers and customers.  

The follow-up emails will provide more details on the
changes to those impacted.  Please join me in wishing Kevin and the team
all the very best as we move forward.  If you have any questions about
this change, please let your manager or me know.

-somasegar

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