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Designer of the Metro UI for Surface departs Microsoft to join data analysis startup

Windows veteran Jensen Harris is leaving Microsoft after 16 years to join HR-based startup Textio. Harris, who had worked with on Windows, Office, and Outlook at Microsoft will start his new adventure at Textio next week after announcing his departure Thursday.

At Textio, Harris will help to find unintended biases and discrimination. The human resources-based company scans company documents, such as performance reviews and job descriptions, in search of patterns in the hopes of finding unintended biases.

"I got to play with a lot of the toys that I wanted to play with," Harris said of his time at Microsoft, where he helped build the Metro UI for Surface.

Harris was responsible for many familiar creations at Microsoft as explained on his personal site:

"I have led teams through some of the boldest and most innovative user interface projects in the world, including the Metro UI for Surface and Windows 8/8.1 tablets, the design of the modern Ribbon user interface for Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote, and creation of the widely-copied e-mail user interface in Microsoft Outlook."

Certainly his talents will be missed.

Source: Re/Code

Chuong Nguyen
Chuong Nguyen

Chuong's passion for gadgets began with the humble PDA. Since then, he has covered a range of consumer and enterprise devices, raning from smartphones to tablets, laptops to desktops and everything in between for publications like Pocketnow, Digital Trends, Wareable, Paste Magazine, and TechRadar in the past before joining the awesome team at Windows Central. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, when not working, he likes exploring the diverse and eclectic food scene, taking short jaunts to wine country, soaking in the sun along California's coast, consuming news, and finding new hiking trails. For news tips or to connect, please message him on the Signal messaging app at +1 (424) 666-7438. 

65 Comments
  • Good luck to him!
  • Microsoft killed Windows 8 to bring back Windows 7 and windowed apps. Most of the innovative ideas that were introduced in Windows 8 are dead. So, of course he has to leave.
  • Are you sure ? Because I still use it in the technical preview :)
  • Wait, you mean like how when you use Windows 10 on a tablet is has the same metro start menu, full screen metro apps as Windows 8... Killed like that? Okay...
  • Windows 8 was designed for PCs too. And as the emo showed in the "continuum" demo, the awful taskbar will be visible even in tablet mode for hybrids devices like the Surface. They shouldn't call it tablet anymore.  
  • Here's a thought: join the tech preview and tell the developers you don't like that feature, or at least want to be able to toggle it. Channel your opinion constructively rather than ranting in a comment section about something that hasn't been determined yet.
  • Stuffs like that will still be ironed out this is pre pre build
  • Do you understand what a technical preview is? People like you spread bs and other people pick it up and run with it. Pretty soon tons of people are going crazy over one unfounded rumor in a comment section. Seriously, this is a really early build and the presenters specifically stated that the UI and UX are very early and will change a lot. Read about something before making assumptions. If after looking into it, you really want to contribute your opinion for the betterment of the platform, I implore you to join the preview and submit feedback so the development can improve (if the ideas are good enough).
  • You sure you understand what a "Design Case Study" means? Probably not. Also ranting in the comment section of this Article, even though there is a tech preview where you are able to voice your opinion via Microsoft feedback, won't bring you anywhere.
  • So, if you don't like something you can't express your opinion here, only praises are admited. Microsoft is accelerating their slide into irrelevance reverting the convergence they initiated with Windows 8. The iPad Pro is going to crush the Windows 7 Surface.
  • "...as the emo showed..." http://i.minus.com/ib1nQhtcxKxpKd.gif
  • Apps don't run full screen? Its just maximized leaving the ugly taskbar showing.
  • Um, you CAN run them in full screen without the taskbar showing. I'm already doing that in the preview.  It is just not the default as it was meant for ENTERPRISE users.
  • There is no way to keep full screen though. Once you switch away from the app it goes back windowed. As well, no way to snap apps in full screen. Feels like launching x86 software all over again. With that, I have hopes that all of that will be tightened up with final release. There is no reason as of now to assume it won't be. Including desktops, not just tablets.
  • You mean hitting F11?
  • Crazy guy.. Some one lead the way
  • Okay.
  • That's news??
  • That's AMAZING NEWS.
    You know why?
    Cause I'm kinda high
  • lol
  • I wish I was high right now.
  • Me too. I live on the 23rd floor ;)
  • Hopefully he does well in his new field, but this seems like a real 360 move - software to human resources, interesting play.
  • Nobody knows who this guy is.
  • Actually you're quite wrong. YOU might not know, but don't throw us all in your category. He ran a popular blog during the Office 2007 cycle where he discussed in depth the user interface principals behind the ribbon, etc...
  • Ahh yes. Such well-received projects as Office Ribbon and Win8 Metro. I'd leave those bombs off my resume if I were him.
  • Double M above says he's high but, I think you are higher.  Ribbon is a bomb? Care to explain that as it is now used all over. Metro is a bomb?  It's still in use and loved by many, people just dont' like change.  Surface 3 with 8.1 is outstanding hardware and software.  Windows 10 is even better.  I think you will see it for years to come.   
  • Seriously? The ribbon was balked at originally because people had to re learn but has since been applauded for its efficiency and ease of use.
    Additionally metro is very well received on touch devices and only widely hated on desktops. Not by all mind you... I very much enjoy and prefer metro and full screen software on the desktop. Maybe because like the ribbon I/we learned to use it efficiently and easily. Not to say that 8/8.1 couldn't be evolved and get better. Buy I do think as of now 10 is possibly going too far back in the other direction. I will hold judgment for the final product though.
  • Pretty significant departure. Thanks for everything Jensen!
  • We can only wish him a good luck
  • 'Unintended biases'? Seriously? So he wants to be one of the Thought Police and regulate your thinking before you know what it is your thinking wrongly about. Heil Harris!
  • Actually, for academic writing and any type of analysis, this could be a crucial tool.
  • Wth is up with these comments? Where did the crazies come from?
  • This is typical 'murica. They're self indulgent and self-righteous to no end. He'll be doing something that wouldn't lend him a job in many places. Because no one cares so much about "HOW" you say things as Americans. (just look at the stupid "it's not black, it's African-American", "it's not retarded, it's mentally challenged" etc etc etc) Posted via the Windows Phone Central App for Android
  • So he only did Metro for Windows 8 not Windows Phone right?
  • Correct.
  • that's a good question... Metro debuted on Windows Phone 7, although some earlier elements of the design language were seen on the Zune HD (still considered by some to be the best dedicated MP3 player ever created).
  • I agree with that. I have a Zune HD 64GB and it's the best MP3 player I've ever owned...I use it exclusively when I go to the gym and when I'm having parties, hook it up to my superb 1,000 watt stereo system and it's fantastic!
  • Ummm....
  • I thought metro was much older then that think wmc, zune
  • It is and many people contributed to it. However, there are different iterations/generations of what we call Metro, and Harris was evidently responsible for one of them ;)
  • Personally I feel Windows Metro is an unpleasant, poor-man's mangling of Metro as it began. But, that ship has long since sailed.
  • Only outlook's UI makes sense.  The modern UI requires too much guess works (like is this clickable, swap left, up, down, etc).  I still hate that Ribbon thingy....I don't miss him.
  • Oh well, Metro is ruined anyway.
  • Yea it pretty much got design-by-commitee'd to death. The planets aligned at Microsoft, basically, to allow it to get designed the way it was in the first place. Since then, obviously the astrology has been quite different.
  • Wow
  • "HR based" can someone translate that into English please?
  • Oh c'mon. This guy who worked on Metro UI is moving on and it's a news? We've had several Metro designers moving on to new projects. Nothing new here and it's not like they are supposed to sit there and fine tune Metro for decades. And what's up with the title "Designer of the Metro UI for Surface"? FOR SURFACE? Is that phrase necessary? Sorry, this piece is crap. Not the kind why I have WPCentral in my RSS feed.
  • Dude, shut up
  • I like Windows 8.1.. And running technical preview of windows 10... Am still using the tiles instead of start button..!
  • How come now, "My Way" by Frank Sinatra is playing in my head?
    I mean, it wasn't earlier...
  • So he couldn't resolve his two "Frankensteins": Metro touch UI and the Office Ribbon. Now he becomes Catbert....
  • An insider told me that he would have been let go of he didn't leave. It seems they may think they got all his good ideas already. 18,001.
  • Lmbo
  • Thanks for reporting this. I for one find this interesting
  • I hope this isn't the death of metro as we know it :(
  • Considering Joe is in charge of windows it's safe to say metro will only continue to evolve and get better on windows
  • I wish him best of lucks and I wish he also takes the Metro UI with him. At least on desktops. Posted via the Windows Phone Central App for Android
  • I thought he was already gone, I guess I was thinking of his recent demotion
  • If you watched his presentations you will realize what a huge loss this is for Microsoft.
  • I thought this was coming. I really enjoyed Jensen's presentation during the BUILD conference. I feel that if more people knew the thinking behind Windows 8's design, then they would have had a better experience using it. There was logic behind each change. That said, Microsoft overreached, and Windows 10 represents a much needed modification to the Metro approach. If you haven't seen Jensen's explanation of Metro design, you can watch it here: http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Build/BUILD2011/BPS-1004
  • "Icons are yesterday's way of representing apps." -Jensen Harris on live tiles    
  • And millions of people (not me) who hated the changes to windows and office will be saying, it's him GET HIM!
  • The lack of touch pc's and instructions on the massive changes to windows has meant that people didn't like it.
  • Our Leader in designing Metro UI left us. Poor us....