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Director of User Experience at Microsoft speaks on Android, Windows Phone

Sam Moreau

Gizmodo has posted a nice interview with Sam Moreau, Director of User Experience for Windows, Windows Live and Internet Explorer (LinkedIn (opens in new tab)) at Microsoft. He's basically the guy tasked with the Windows 8 UI redesign which obviously has taken its cues from Windows Phone (which took its cues from Zune and goes back to Windows Media Center). The interview is quite fascinating as it entails discussions on challenges the team faced, decisions made and what they are expecting.

One interesting area that came up was Windows Phone, where Gizmodo asked about Microsoft's new found "strong sense of vision". Moreau responds and summarizes Android nicely:

"Yeah, because that was the thing that we get blamed for a lot. Or, I would say the thing that annoys me about Android is I don't think it has a point of view. I think it's trying to be this weird sci-fi version of an Apple design language, poorly executed. Some of it is starting to get there, you know, they got Matias (Duarte) there, and some things are starting to get a little better. They're starting to get that—some sense of soul, but I do think that a lot of their soul is derived from some other place."

That sense of soul is something Apple clearly has and now something Microsoft has too. Android and RIM? Not so much. Certainly design-philosophy or as Moreau calls it, redesigning a religion, is no small task and in a lot of ways it's remarkable that Microsoft is leading in this core area. Part of that is due to Microsoft's "low-self esteem" in terms of design and with the combo of strong leadership and strong competition i.e. Apple, Microsoft has turned themselves around.

3 screens

The Metro design language is just starting to hit the mainstream and Windows Phone, for all intents and purposes, was the first. It should be very exciting to see in late 2012 how the masses react to the "sudden" alignment of Microsoft's three screens of phone, TV and gaming.

Source: Gizmodo; Image credit: Annie Marie Musselman/Fast Company

Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

  • I believe Microsoft can do this. Patience,persistence and deep pockets,which Microsoft has in abundance & more! ;-)
  • Spooky, this appeared at the same time I posted it in the forums. Anyway Yay for Metro!
  • Agreed. MS has that "soul" :)
    I like the UI changes that we've seen so far in W8. Really can't understand all the hating on it.
  • All the hating is because google fanboys didn't come up with something original. So they have to hate in an attemp to feel good about their OSes. Poor bastards!
  • This is nothing new. Good ol' fasioned non-sensical and irrational Microsoft hating has been around for ages now. Don't get me wrong, if they come up with a genuine turkey then by all means we have the right to critique but it's always pissed me off that Microsoft - and many other big companies - simply cannot put a foot right in the eyes some people, regardless of the quality of the product.
  • Personally, I think a lot of the attitude just comes from Microsoft's baggage.  Some of that baggage is just plain "success envy" promoted by competitors and the like, others are legit "be wary the monopoly" and of course some are just user bad experiences some first hand others not.  Whatever the cause, the history just weighs down on any attempt to change image or direction - I think Microsoft is very well aware of this.  Honestly, I've always admired the company and their practices - to me, at the core, very "American" even considering some of their shadier practices.  The people that are haters (in my experience) are those most prone to follow the currents or just resist Microsoft based on principal (influenced by one of the above motives?).  I firmly believe its a better experience than the competition, but thats my belief.  I always volunteer to let people have some "alone time" with my phone. :)  They just don't need too much time to explore because the platform accomplished one of its objectives: no digging around in apps for data, just glance and go. 
  • I like Metro a lot, and its going to be interesting to se if Microsoft is just a sleeping bear, ready to tear down everyting in it's path. You know the saying, poke around the bear nest long enough and you might just wake him up.
    Time will tell and it's just one thing im having in the back of my head, eventually all that could happen is a whimper also.
  • Many years later when you look back, hope the only word comes out will be a simple "WOW."
  • Since of soul? Seems like MS talk more about.Android than their own OS. Guess you have to when your offering is second class.
  • Since of soul? You must be using an Android phone with poor spell checking capabilities. You trolls can't even get your trolling down properly.
  • Indeed I am using a galaxy s2. And it's autocorrect is shitty. But I also own a WP7 device, and yes, it's second class compared to the GS2.
  • Which device? When did you buy it? What are some of your most hated features? I seriously doubt you actually have one.
  • Lol you fail I really hope your not trying to say that android is a firts class offering cause you'd be as wrong as creationists there buddy!
  • You Android boys always say WP is no good, but you never explain why! Can you tell us why we're second rate please?
  • Features, options, and specs.
  • What features, options and specs? Are you saying if WP get the same specs it will be untouchable, because it already does majority of tasks better and quicker than that lagging gs2
  • Features. Like what? FFC? Got it. NFC I'll give you though. SAMOLED+? Got it. Big screens? Got it. LTE? On its way. Options. Got it. There are WP7's of all different sizes, colors and prices. Nice try. Specs. Don't matter. It's all about the experience! Anything else? We have the best of both worlds between iOS and Android. The smoothness and ease of use with a burgeoning ecosystem of iOS with the hardware choice of Android.
  • If Windows Phone is a "Second Class" offering, then why have they won the Interaction Design Award for the second year running.
    Windows Phone 2 - Android 0
    When Android Users have to troll on Windows Phone articles with mistakes like "Since of soul?", in a comment that was clearly written on an Android Phone it just proves which is the "Second Class" offering.
  • LOL, I use both. Sorry, you lose.
  • Failure
  • You prove and win nothing by using both you still didn't offer any evidence as to why you thinks its better do you like all the news stories of how the android marketplace is overflowing with unsafe apps or maybe you like android because twitter and facebook and so on isn't baked into the OS and you like to waste time or perhaps its because the OS is a ripoff of IOS and is becoming like WP7 or is it because your OS needs the battery devouring dual core and is still laggy and force closes apps unlike WP? So? Why is it?
  • Microsoft has always been terrible at design and UI designs historically speaking. So yes it is remarkable that they now are the leaders when it comes to modern design! I have always told people how ugly MS designs things even though they are so big. But the page has turned.
  • What UI designs with Microsoft were bad?
  • I would also like to know what designs are bad? All desktop and phone designs up until WP7 have been a sea of icons. Also, you cannot be speaking about MS's office suite because it's currently the leader and has been for years.
  • Thanks for the complement! He really is trying to complement Metro, give him a break. Lol... He never said he didn't use WP.
  • lol ya... alot of people only read the first two sentence
  • Metro is awesome. Apple had the crown once for their grid interface, now Microsoft deserves it. Android.. meh. Customization isn't supposed to be a feature, but rather an ability. So don't rub it in when people ask what features an os has.
  • Has anyone been inside JC PENNY? The store has a very metrofied experience with their price displays and layout. I immediately felt like I was in a familiar place
  • Yes, that seems to be their new look on TV advertising too. Will this help WP be more "normal" in the eyes of newcomers. I have been noticing this in magazines as well. MS should do a commercial that takes place in las Vegas, with people on the slot machines, which will have rolling live tiles, and winning one after another. The theme would stress how you can't lose with WP, or, be a winner with WP..
  • You're on to something. Maybe even parterships with fashion retailers that share the same design philosophy like JcP.  Some kind of partenership promotion between the two would be interesting to see play out.
  • I really like what MS is doing with Metro and agree that they seem to have found their sense of "vision". But they should be careful discounting Android. ICS is turning things around and the new Chrome browser for Android has some really slick UI elements, such as the tab switching, and their calendar pinch to zoom is clever also. MS may have look and feel in the OS but I think they need to put some more thought into utilizing functional and fun UI in Apps as well.
  • I agree, the functionality innovations must not be lost.  However, I would contend that Surfcube 3D has already come up with very similar design as the new Chrome browser.  The problem with Chrome's tab switching is you don't know where you're going to next (unless I missed that part of the demo).  Surfcube allows you to pivot to your list of tabs and you know where you want to go directly.
  • Seems to me.... Microsoft needs ads that make the way they've gone from Windows Mobile to Windows Phone crystal clear. Show the word "Mobile". Cross it out. Blow it up. Light it on fire. Show the old and new side by side. Show transition. The word alone doesn't make much difference though. A friend of mine kept saying "no my parents HAVE Windows Phones. it looks just like a Desktop." OK so that's technically "MOBILE" but arguing the word doesn't seell phones. I feel like I'm contradicting myself :)
  • This is pretty silly to be honest. Yeah WP UI is great but the Android 4.0 UI is just as good if not better in some places. I love my Titan and my Galaxy Nexus equally. The Titan is better for some things, the Nexus for others, depending on what i'll need it for that day.
  • What's silly is that no one is comparing these properly...For Android the Samsung Galaxy seems to be the popular choice, therefore you MUST compare it to the Samsung Focus S. These are equal handsets with the competing OS. I think you lose a bit of the purer differences if you try to make OS comparisons with completely different company/handsets... =/
  • I love metro it's like candy to my eyes in fact it has captured the attention of most my family regardless of what the use. Im constantly being asked what kind of phone is that it very pretty all im saying is ms is doing a very good job of managing there new look and given time and a lot of money they will get it out there this position is not new territory for them remember where the Xbox 360 started now look where they are just saying.