Microsoft showed off the upcoming improvements in the file explorer for Windows 8 on its blog this morning, and the post highlighted the main difference between Microsoft and Apple.It’s not just about complexity, which Apple hides and Microsoft defiantly does not. (As MG Siegler pointed out in this excellent graphic.)
More revealing is the fact that Microsoft collected data from hundreds of millions of users (anonymously) to figure out exactly how they use Windows Explorer today. Then, they analysed this data in painstaking detail — for instance:
The top 10 commands represent 81.8% of total usage. Additionally it shows us that people overwhelmingly use Explorer for core file management tasks – the top 7 commands (72.2% of usage) are all for managing/manipulating files.
54.5% of commands are invoked using a right-click context menu, and another 32.2% are invoked using keyboard shortcuts (“Hotkey” above) while only 10.9% come from the Command bar, the most visible UI element in Explorer in Windows 7 and Vista.
They used this data to figure out where to start. The team is pretty proud because “The commands that make up 84% of what customers do in Explorer are now all available on this one tab.”
Never mind that the rest of the tab is filled with icons that will be rarely, if ever, used.
Then, they asked customers what they wanted to see. “Customers have a lot of suggestions for how they’d like to see Explorer evolve.”
This is exactly the opposite of Apple’s approach.
From Steve Jobs:
It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.
You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.
This approach has become so ingrained at Apple, they embedded the quote in one of the icons in OS X Lion.
The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste. They have absolutely no taste.
So which approach is better?
The market will decide.
See also: The 13 Best Quotes By Steve Jobs.