Like many Windows professional out there I followed the Building Windows 8 blog religiously during the last year of the development cycle and learned a lot from the often lengthy blog posts. In fact, since I began using Windows 8 RTM, I often go back to reread some of the posts and usually come away with a new or better understanding of something in the operating system. There's lots of valuable information in those blog posts.
While it might sound a bit odd to say that I have a favorite blog post, I do. It's titled Creating the Windows 8 user experience and written by Jensen Harris, Director of Program Management for the User Experience team. This well written post represents one of the best generalized explanations of how the Microsoft team developed the Windows 8 operating system.
How it came to be
The post begins by going all the way back to Windows 1 and recounts the significant points in the evolution of the Windows user interface all the way up to Windows 7. It then moves on to tell you that the Microsoft team began planning the Windows 8 user experience in mid-2009 - before the introduction of the iPad. During this planning phase the team began paying attention to some of the trends in computing and the article goes on to describe how those trends influenced the team's ideas about the design of Windows 8.
From there, the article moves on to describe in great detail the goals for the Windows 8 user experience. Along the way, we learn about the incorporation of touch into the operating system as an input method. We also see serious consideration given to the desktop and the keyboard and mouse experience.
I've read this very lengthy post several times and only very briefly summarize it here because there is just too much valuable information in the text to do it justice otherwise - you just have to read the entire post for yourself. In fact, I challenge everyone to do so. Whether you are a Windows 8 enthusiast or a Windows 8 naysayer, you really must read this post in its entirety.
In addition to reading this post, I highly recommend that you watch a video of a speech by Jensen Harris at the UX Week 2012 conference in San Francisco in August titled The Story of Windows 8. In it Harris covers many of the concepts from the blog post, but with a more generalized and entertaining angle.
On second thought, maybe it would be better if you watched the video first. Then, when you read the Creating the Windows 8 user experience blog post, you'll have a better sense of who Jensen Harris is and will be able to better appreciate the information presented in the post. Again, whether you are a Windows 8 enthusiast or a Windows 8 naysayer, I challenge you to watch video and read the post.
Once you do, if you have comments or information to share about the story behind Windows 8, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you.
Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.