A great story in Western Australia Today (WAtoday.com.au) features Ms. Larson-Green, the person behind the ribbon technology introduced in Office 2007, who has since taken over ownership of the Windows 7 UI and its usability (called “Windows Experience”) prior to the imminent launch of that new flagship OS in October, 2009. The story is entitled “Meet Microsoft’s antidote to Vista” and describes Larson-Green’s background, motivation, and focus in helping to prepare Windows 7 for beta testing and launch. Refreshingly her self-professed goal is to “…build an operating system that doesn’t require people to take computer classes or master thick manuals.” Larson-Green credits a work history that includes waiting tables and answering customer support calls at Aldus (now part of Adobe) for sensitivity to customer wants and needs, and empathy with their trials and tribulations.
She focused on more centralized planning, and better coordination to create a more cohensive and intuitive look and feel for Windows 7. She also worked hard to eliminate the scores of pop-ups, alerts, and notification that system developers mean to be informative, but which bedevil ordinary users who simply want nothing more than to get them out of the way (to me, this finally explains the consolidation of alerts into the Windows 7 Action Center, and why only generic alerts get issued periodically–I hadn’t realized the noise had gone away, but had definitely noticed its reduction subliminally).
According to the story, Larson’s mantra is best stated as “user in control’ (hooray, what a simple but significant concept). The goal was “…to build an operating system people could use without studying first, one that would let them get right to reading the news or sending email without dragging them down a rabbit hole of setting and configurations. A system with manners…”
Larson-Green is already at work on Windows 8, though her group is still engaged in occasional tweaks to Windows 7 (though this will freeze solid in mid-July when the RTM version goes to OEMs for the October 22, 2009 release). Larson-Green says she plans to measure how well Windows 7 is doing “…by conversations she overhears at Best Buy and comments posted by bloggers.” Her hope is that people will like it. If my recent experiences in getting to know and writing about Windows 7 in the past three months are any indication, I don’t think she’s going to be too disappoointed.