Microsoft's product design themes explained in new article

Microsoft's launch of Windows 8 in late 2012 presented many people with their first glimpse of the company's Modern UI. However, the basic design of that interface was first introduced in Windows Phone 7 in 2010 and was later added to the dashboard of the Xbox 360.

In a new an extensive in-house article, Microsoft takes a look at how the company has evolved its design concepts over the past three years to where they are today. The article, written by Steve Clayton, the head of the "Next at Microsoft" blog, is designed to be accessed best by a touchscreen tablet, although it can also be read on standard PC web browsers as well.

The Modern Design movement, the International Typographic Style, and the field of Motion Design are listed as the main influences for Microsoft designers in their concepts in reinventing how their products look and are used. Other design principles including creating programs that are "fast and fluid" and also have a digital look that cannot be replicated in the real world. Images show the Windows design team at work at Microsoft on these concepts.

Yet another Modern UI design principle is doing more with less; in other words, doing away with elements that are installed just to look good without any real purpose. Clayton states:

Our research shows people don't care about the origin of a fake light source that may display a drop shadow on an icon — it's superfluous. A Microsoft designer's focus is on making every element have a clear and useful purpose. No more, no less. It helps communicate what is most important so a person can focus on the task at hand.

If you are interested at all in modern design and how it relates to product development, this article is well worth reading, even with its unusual website layout.

Source: Microsoft | Images via Microsoft

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JHBrown said,
Those three people in that pictured should be fired!

Yes. How dare they take away our point and click UI's! After all, we know that NO innovation can exsit on the desktop. Nope. Microsoft just needs to stop trying. Innovative tech like touch and Lep Motion have no place in the real world.

Edited by Dot Matrix, Jun 8 2013, 2:27am :

The web site itself is not well designed. I'm sure it's great on a landscape 16:9 tablet.

But surely a good design would be responsive, so that on a desktop browser it re-adjusts so that it is also easy to navigate there?

singularity87 said,
The web site itself is not well designed. I'm sure it's great on a landscape 16:9 tablet.

But surely a good design would be responsive, so that on a desktop browser it re-adjusts so that it is also easy to navigate there?


16:9 landscape tablet owner here, can confirm it looks pretty good

singularity87 said,
The web site itself is not well designed. I'm sure it's great on a landscape 16:9 tablet.

But surely a good design would be responsive, so that on a desktop browser it re-adjusts so that it is also easy to navigate there?

Your just jealous you don't have a 16:9 tablet. Bet you have one of those square thingies

i like metro so much, that i wish the desktop would be dissolved by windows 9. if any legacy programs need to be used, they could simply launch inside of a metro style window, full screen. need to drag content? open two apps at the same time. huzzah!!!

i've always liked Metro, even before it was called Metro. It was in Windows Media Center and Zune. Metro got it's official name when Windows Phone 7 launched, and now it's pretty much everywhere. Really glad to see this design direction being applied across Microsoft, the first time all of Microsoft's products are sharing the same design elements.

just look at that sucker in the pic, thinking he is god of GUI's and user experience... bet that ****er is in streets now begging for food lol im dying! XDD

That link sucks. The website is meant for tablets not PCs.
Metro is not flexible enough yet. I want to make Giant tiles linking to my photos, tiny for folders.
I get what they are saying but it does look bland right now. And I bet iOS will be flatter than what it is now but not FLAT. Even the redesigned gmail I do not like.

I like flat interfaces as much as i like flat tits.

Let me sum up the article for you: They sat their designers in a room with an unlimited supply of crack, and said have fun. Let's bring back green screen roll and scroll!!!!

runningnak3d said,
Let me sum up the article for you: They sat their designers in a room with an unlimited supply of crack, and said have fun. Let's bring back green screen roll and scroll!!!!

At Apple they sat their designers in the room with the iPhone and after 3 days they emerged and said. we are going to add another row of icons.

There's nothing wrong with Metro itself - its elegant, clean, simple and to the point. What I have problem with is the majority of the apps written that use it (for the most part badly)...

Padding = too much (aka unused space).
vertical scroll = not self explained (there is not a arrow).
horizontal scroll = the same.
vertical & horizontal scroll = most of the time a mess and limited usability.
icons = two colors.
icons = true colors (picture).
icon boxes = not round, shadow or margin.
text inside boxes = not rounded.

Metro is not based in Bauhaus, it is based in POS (Point of Sales), i am watched a similar design in MacDonalds POS and it was a decade ago.

metro of all things reminds me of road signs.... flat, limited color, single instruction, minimal monotone graphics...

Thats it! I have been trying to think of something to compare metro too. Dont really like it, but it is interesting why MS went with it.

Xenon said,
Thats it! I have been trying to think of something to compare metro too. Dont really like it, but it is interesting why MS went with it.

Metro has a lot of future but it should evolve ASAP and i am not talking about a start button. Also Metro should be fast but now is slow.

neufuse said,
metro of all things reminds me of road signs.... flat, limited color, single instruction, minimal monotone graphics...

While I think I get the idea behind Metro, I really like your analogy. That feels true. My view on this UI is that is has become simplified so it can match on the phone, computer or tv screen. This UI works in all these formats. It can obviously be stated that it does not have the eye candy, depth, or artist style that we have enjoyed in other GUIs... but yea, road signs.

Peace,
James

Metro is one of the crappiest design theme ever. Who in his right mind going to like flat bland color tile. MS survey is a joke and totally unreliable. It was MS survey of people who said no one uses start menu and here we are in 8.1 we are getting start button ( not menu) back. MS licking back its own spit. What is purpose of having more powerful computer when people are not going to use all the eye candies. If people does not care about UI then why even bother to put any colored tile. Just put back text icon.

I reverted back to Win 7 after using win 8 for a while and totally dislike the metro.

Auditor said,
Metro is one of the crappiest design theme ever. Who in his right mind going to like flat bland color tile. MS survey is a joke and totally unreliable. It was MS survey of people who said no one uses start menu and here we are in 8.1 we are getting start button ( not menu) back. MS licking back its own spit. What is purpose of having more powerful computer when people are not going to use all the eye candies. If people does not care about UI then why even bother to put any colored tile. Just put back text icon.

I reverted back to Win 7 after using win 8 for a while and totally dislike the metro.

Wat

Auditor said,
Metro is one of the crappiest design theme ever. Who in his right mind going to like flat bland color tile. MS survey is a joke and totally unreliable. It was MS survey of people who said no one uses start menu and here we are in 8.1 we are getting start button ( not menu) back. MS licking back its own spit. What is purpose of having more powerful computer when people are not going to use all the eye candies. If people does not care about UI then why even bother to put any colored tile. Just put back text icon.

I reverted back to Win 7 after using win 8 for a while and totally dislike the metro.

Ohhhh snap, an auditor paid by Apple has come to evaluate the legitimacy of Microsost's research data and improve the company!!

Watch out Microsoft designers, your jobs may be in jeopardy!

Auditor said,
Metro is one of the crappiest design theme ever. Who in his right mind going to like flat bland color tile. MS survey is a joke and totally unreliable. It was MS survey of people who said no one uses start menu and here we are in 8.1 we are getting start button ( not menu) back. MS licking back its own spit. What is purpose of having more powerful computer when people are not going to use all the eye candies. If people does not care about UI then why even bother to put any colored tile. Just put back text icon.

I reverted back to Win 7 after using win 8 for a while and totally dislike the metro.

Sounds like someone needs to take a chill pill.

onedrummer2401 said,
Good. No one cares about what you think about Metro. Stay on Windows 7 and shut up. You're a sad and strange little man, and you have my pity.
No need to get nasty with this member. We all have the right to voice our dislikes.

JHBrown said,
No need to get nasty with this member. We all have the right to voice our dislikes.

I don't think he said anything bad. You make it sound 1000 times worse

swanlee said,
I've loved Metro since WMC and the Zune software, glad to see it as the unified GUI for all MS products now.

So the geniuses at Microsoft have taken the failed zune interface, and added it to their popular Windows desktop O/S and are wondering why that's now failing too?

The failure of Zune had nothing to do with its UI.

dvb2000 said,

So the geniuses at Microsoft have taken the failed zune interface, and added it to their popular Windows desktop O/S and are wondering why that's now failing too?

Begin the "Grumble, grumble, whaaa Metro sucks!" comments. Then, magically on Monday, those comments will change to "Flat UI is the greatest thing ever!!!"