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Strategic insights
Microsoft Windows Vista User Experience Guidelines (updated)

Written by on September 14, 2005

Updated see below

Updated: Link fixed

Microsoft has released a preliminary draft of Microsoft Windows Vista User Experience Guidelines.

Even at this early stage it is a very comprehensive and detailed set of guidelines. It covers:

  • "What's New", a quick introduction to the new interface conventions in Vista.
  • "Top Rules", 12 areas that Windows Vista developers needs to focus on.
  • "Guidelines", well... the actual guidelines.
  • "Design resources", a link to Microsoft's new Vista UX blog (no posts yet).

Update: After reading these guidelines in greater detail, I am stunned by the many inconsistencies it contains. Some guidelines completely contradict others. Some examples shown as being incorrect on one page, is shown as correct on others.

Also, it appears that Microsoft UX team has been unable to agree on the basic foundation of the user experience. Many examples feature the old style "dialog box and command button", while other the more modern and web friendly "inductive user interface" style. This has resulted in a very inconsistent interaction method. You are faced with a mixture of different interaction methods for the same thing. All of which will surely be confusing.

Microsoft needs to:

  1. Decide on a single interaction method, and embrace it universally. I would suggest an updated approach to "Inductive User Interface" method. This method has already proven successful in several areas.

    Remember Bill Gates' slide (during his PDC keynote)?

    Software Industry Milestones:
    Beginning » PC, MS-DOS » GUI, Windows » Internet, Web Services

    In UX terms this compares to:

    Beginning » Command line UX » Desktop UX » Inductive UX

  2. Be consistent.

On good thing is that Microsoft UX team is questioning many of the Windows 2000 and Windows XP interaction concepts. These concepts are now considered "incorrect" - a great plus for the overall user experience.

A word of caution: Windows Vista is still in beta and these guidelines are not the final version. Things may change (they often do at this stage).

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Thomas Baekdal

Thomas Baekdal

Founder of Baekdal, author, writer, strategic consultant, and new media advocate.


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