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  (Source: Mashable)
Julie Larson-Green is working to fill Sinofsky's shoes

When Microsoft's Windows Chief Steven Sinofsky hit the road last month, Julie Larson-Green stepped in as the new sheriff in town (as far as Windows 8 goes, anyway). Larson-Green didn't inherit an easy role, so it's fair to ask: Can she fill Sinofsky's shoes?

Larson-Green, who has worked for Microsoft for 20 years and led the introduction of huge ideas like the ribbon interface for Microsoft Office, recently interviewed with Tom Simonite at MIT Technology Review in an attempt to offer insight on what it's like to grab hold of Windows' biggest redesign and attempt to bring everyone on board with the new look and feel.

According to Larson-Green, so far, so good. While Sinofsky was a strong force in the Windows environment with a brilliant mind and explosive personality, Larson-Green insists that "not much" has changed since she took over his position.

"I've worked directly with Steven for seven years but known him for the whole 20 years I've been at Microsoft," said Larson-Green. "We think a lot the same about what the role of Windows is in society, what computing looks like, and getting people on board with that point of view."

Getting everyone on board hasn't been easy. Windows has had a solid user interface design since Windows 95, which was the start of a more object oriented interface. Users had become accustomed to this for nearly two decades, and Windows 8 flipped that entire concept on its head.


Julie Larson-Green [Image Source: Microsoft]

Windows 8 features what was once called the Metro style user interface, with colorful live tiles and a repositioned Start button. The new design was mainly for touch purposes in mobile products like Microsoft's Surface and Windows Phone 8, but some have had a hard time digesting this new look for desktop use. So why the radical change?

"When Windows was first created 25 years ago, the assumptions about the world and what computing could do and how people were going to use it were completely different," said Latson-Green. "It was at a desk, with a monitor. Before Windows 8 the goal was to launch into a window, and then you put that window away and you got another one. But with Windows 8, all the different things that you might want to do are there at a glance with the Live Tiles. "

She added the importance of touch on desktops as well as mobile devices to enhance the experience of using Windows 8, while still giving users the option to have a keyboard and mouse. She said it takes people anywhere from two days to two weeks to get adjusted to all the changes in Windows 8, depending on how invested they were in the traditional versions.

This brings us to the Surface tablet, which is Microsoft's first homemade hardware running Windows. Larson-Green addressed the new product briefly (nothing about sales numbers or demand, which have been in speculation lately).

"It was a way to test our hypothesis of a new way of working," said Larson-Green. "It takes time for individuals to adjust, but it also takes time for the industry to adjust to new things—all the complicated things about the supply chain and issues like what sizes of glass gets cut. Surface is our vision of what a stage for Windows 8 should look like, to help show consumers and the industry our point of view on what near perfect hardware would look like."

Sinofsky, former president of Microsoft's Windows and Windows Live division, announced that he was leaving the company last month after a little over 23 years with the tech giant. It was reported as a "sudden" move that no one expected, but details about the departure show that the decision was contemplated for a while and even backed by Microsoft co-founder and chairman Bill Gates.

While Sinofsky was seen as a brilliant figure at Microsoft, his downfall was that he didn't get along with others within the company. He was notorious for picking fights with other executives, including current CEO Steve Ballmer, and even pushed former executives like chief software architect Ray Ozzie to quit.

Source: MIT Technology Review



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RE: W9
By kingmotley on 12/14/2012 4:56:52 PM , Rating: 3
Not sure why you think Windows 8 is a fail just because there is a very vocal minority that can't stand any change. I like Windows 8 A LOT. It does everything Windows 7 did, but better.

The task manager is finally what it should have been many versions ago -- showing CPU, Memory, Disk, and Network usage.
The resource manager as well is vastly improved. It looks better, you can drill down into things better to find out exactly what's eating resources, including what program is hogging all the CPU/DISK during boot time that's the cause of slow boots.
I like the new start screen. It took me all of about 10 minutes to get used to the new start screen, and now I can arrange all my most commonly used applications how *I* want them, but if you prefer being limited to your top 5 applications being in a list, good for you.
It uses less resources (memory, disk), and boots faster than Windows 7 ever did.

The windows store is a decent enough idea, but it is going to take a while for that to get to where it really shines.


RE: W9
By Trisped on 12/14/2012 6:31:38 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Not sure why you think Windows 8 is a fail just because there is a very vocal minority that can't stand any change.
Probably because there is an even smaller minority that likes the changes.


RE: W9
By drlumen on 12/14/2012 8:56:56 PM , Rating: 2
Well said.

After almost 2 years I still have to hunt for things in that damn ribbon. Ribbons and tiles and touch! Oh my! I guess if all you do is sit in Facebook or chat or email they are fine. Also, from the sound of the article, we should be glad we can still use a keyboard and mouse! I would not be surprised if they tried to gut them within the next release or two.

Change for an improvement is one thing but I have yet to see any real improvement? I have seen a lot of detriment though. So, why change simply for change sake?


RE: W9
By polishvendetta on 12/17/2012 10:00:19 AM , Rating: 3
Assuming by the Facebook comment you use your computer for more then just Facebook, chat, and email...

It's taken you more then 2 years of regular use to learn to effectively use a peice of computer software? If you use computers every day you are in the wrong industry.

I'm pretty sure there are some elementary school kids that probably use windows 8 better then everyone who complains about it. What does that really say about them? Is Windows 8 bad? Or are they less compitent at learning new skills then 8 year olds?


RE: W9
By drlumen on 12/18/2012 7:41:53 PM , Rating: 2
No the problem is unlearning the previous 15 years of use and programming of under the Windows STANDARD GUI guidelines.

If your use of Excel or Access required you to do anything more advanced than an 8th grader, you could know this. Not much need for it though with your head in a browser huh?


RE: W9
By inighthawki on 12/15/2012 12:52:50 AM , Rating: 3
There must be an even smaller minority who think that's actually true.


RE: W9
By maugrimtr on 12/17/2012 8:15:39 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
She added the importance of touch on desktops as well as mobile devices to enhance the experience of using Windows 8, while still giving users the option to have a keyboard and mouse.


This is why Windows 8 will never be adopted by corporations. Touch on the Desktop PC or Laptop is WORTHLESS. Hold your arm straight out in front of you for several minutes and you'll realise why - the physical exertion needed to use a touch monitor is ludicrous compared to a mouse. It's inefficient and ungainly. This is just Microsoft playing the Apple "you're holding it wrong" game to avoid looking like morons.

Windows 8 is not terrible - it just needs Windows 9 to reorient the desktop edition to being on...a desktop.


RE: W9
By theapparition on 12/17/2012 10:36:19 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Hold your arm straight out in front of you for several minutes and you'll realise why - the physical exertion needed to use a touch monitor is ludicrous compared to a mouse. It's inefficient and ungainly.

That's if you're stuck in the old paradigm. Many of my employees could benefit by a 10" mobile device rather than having to go back to their desks to use a desktop.

Granted they won't be power users, the CAD guys or people typing tech manuals, but for the employees who only need casual email and to check logistics software, it's quite a valid option.


RE: W9
By Trisped on 12/18/2012 6:04:35 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
That's if you're stuck in the old paradigm. Many of my employees could benefit by a 10" mobile device rather than having to go back to their desks to use a desktop.
You are talking about the group of people who are better off using a tablet (or PDA, or slate, or smartphone, or what ever mobile computing device people have been using for years) then a desktop. The original quote is talking about desktop and laptop users.

Just to be clear, the complaint is never (in my experience) that Windows 8 is bad for tablets. It is always that Windows 8 did bad things to desktops.


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