There is a room at Microsoft headquarters that represents all of their design changes and philosophies. Inside the room there are 4 rows of product display tables. The first series were devices that were sold at stores. The second series is the new generation products. The 3rd and 4th series are places where concepts that Microsoft will realize in the future.
Nowadays, Microsoft is not just a software maker, making Xbox game consoles. The group also has a huge ecosystem including software, hardware and related services. They need to be aligned and uniform.
Microsoft has eliminated the design of the past, when each product is created by a separate group in secret. They follow Google’s open design trend.
The idea is widely shared and integrated, synchronized on the company’s products, providing better compatibility between hardware and software. This is a profound change that makes Microsoft’s 44-year-old platform adapt to the trend and compete better with dynamic start-ups that appear in the past.
Every Thursday, Surface, Windows and application groups have a conversation about the work being done. Designers will debate how Microsoft needs to design, how the language is, what visual representation is for the product, how to express it on the illustrations and design tables.
The meeting was attended by members from other product groups like OneNote, OneDrive and Microsoft Teams. People evaluate each other’s designs, give ideas and ways to work with Microsoft’s color palettes, principles of illustration and general language to create products that follow the same trend.
It seems like a completely normal meeting at most companies. However, it did not appear at Microsoft 10 years ago. This approach comes from one of its most failed products: Windows Phone. To launch, Microsoft has assembled Windows, Office and hardware groups to create a completely new design language called “Metro”, making the OS look more modern. Windows Phone failed, but its design really motivated Apple and Google to create better mobile operating systems.