back to article New tune for Microsoft software design?

Advice from Microsoft on designing useful and uncomplicated software? Now, there's a novel idea. Turns out, though, Microsoft Research principal researcher Bill Buxton - a trained musician with extensive experience outside of Microsoft who joined relatively recently - might be on to something, and Microsoft might be listening …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Slim down by adding simplicity?

    Hmmm, interesting stuff for a Monday morning.

    Will the concept bear fruit? It's notoriously difficult to change a small business' culture, never mind a behemoth like Micro$oft. I wonder if it can be done?

    Possibly, if Vista has thrown enough of a fright into them.

    I also noted that 'Windows 7' is supposedly due in 2010, which makes me suspect that Vista is well in the way to becoming 'Windows ME 2'.

    Maybe the chill winds of change are indeed blowing through the corridors of MS...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Brilliant, someone with common sense

    For once, even the Anti MS can't really disagree with what he says (but I'm sure the fanboys will...blah blah blah yawn).

    For once, a company exec has come out and stated the obvious, that something is "good enough". Yes you will always have people who want the latest and greastest and they are then ones that drive prices down, but it's much of the same old thing, but most of us really care.

    I have an Athlon 1.8 / 1gb Ram, Windows XP, i.e7, A cheap Mono laser, office 2K and a bunch of shareware and freeware programs. When people have asked why I don't buy xyz or install abc, I just say, it's good enough for what I want.

  3. Alan Jenney
    Thumb Up

    Physician, heal thyself!

    It's clear from this report that you want Microsoft to heed this envangelist more than any third-party developers out there.

    "Physician, heal thyself".

    One aspect that was not mentioned is that the addition of further features increases the introduction of bugs just opens up the software to more exploits. Microsoft's approach of 'focusing on security' seems to have been as a result of so many holes in the parts of the software that the 'average' end-user never touches. A lot of effort fixing bugs and closing loopholes could be directed elsewhere.

  4. Brett Brennan

    Has the Bauhaus Apple finally bonked Microsoft's Newton?

    (NOT AmanFromMars) - Bill Buxton seems to be sending the message that Microsoft start paying attention to the Real World and stop the madness of maximizing profits ahead of the user. And, no surprise, Apple is sitting on its Bauhaus* cloud waiting to welcome MS to something Steve Jobs has known for years.

    On the other hand, Microsoft comes well equipped to address this proposition. While MS is best known for its bloatware, it does understand - somewhere, deep down in its soul (like Darth Vader) - that there ARE new ideas and paradigms that are begging to be explored. Once MS learns to break away from protecting the cash cow at the expense of opening new markets, they have the ability to leverage their huge depth and breadth of knowledge to truly leap ahead into new areas, not as the follower, buying their way belatedly into new ideas that are already established, but as the innovator.

    I only hope that Balmer understands this well enough to let it happen.

    May the Force be with Bill Buxton.

    * - The Bauhaus School of Design established the idea that "Form Follows Function" - that any device or tool should be elegantly designed to emphasize its use, rather than "decorated" for aesthetics alone. Like Apple iPods.

  5. amanfromMars Silver badge

    AIMission Accomplished? *

    Actually, Brett, Bill Buxton seems to be sending the message that Microsoft is starting to paying Real attention to the Virtual World.

    I wonder if they are into FlowurPower2? AI Rocky Road to Freedom for those on a Slippery Markets Slope.

    * Only when AI Fool.

  6. James Pickett
    Gates Horns


    .. but hard to believe. When I hear the same message from Ballmer, I'll take notice, but I think MS's bad habits are too deeply rooted.

  7. Schultz

    Better user interface = Innovation?

    I completely agree with the trashing of bloatware in this article. But to suggest that tweaks to the design and user interface will offer enduring innovation is a bit too much. Keep those crazy monkeys coding back there, just try to get the software done and usable before dropping it on the innocent populace.

  8. Jason Harvey

    what? using the primary rule of programming?

    Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS).

    Microsoft abandoned this so long ago that we don't even know any more if they ever followed it.

    I guess now we can say miracles do happen.

  9. Tampa Dave

    Buxton == punk.


    And hey!

    This guy fits with M$.

    He's a punk, and I'm glad to see it where it is.

    M$ is dying. Vultures take note.

  10. Tuomo Stauffer
    Thumb Up

    Right way

    Nice to see people like Buxton working for MS ( or any other company ) He is promoting KISS and that what counts. After my years in computer business I'm a little tired fixing problems caused by "new and better" but much more complicated inventions which do just the same with ten times more work needed. Agreed - "New product is needed and that's where we are bad as an industry - we don't have any design up front.", NO design just using new tools and toys designed by someone else.

  11. Sceptical Bastard

    Sounds like sense....

    Well, I never thought I'd tip my hat to anyone at Redmond but if Buxton is able to influence Microsoft dev along KISS lines, all power to him I say.

    But with a malevolent boorish belligerent like Ballmer in charge, I'm not holding my breath.

    That said, it's not Microsoft's researchers who dictate strategy, it's the marketing department. So, as pointed out above, the Vista debacle might just scare Ballmer into a re-think.

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