Hardware has never been Microsoft’s (MSFT) specialty, but it seems the world’s biggest software company should at least have some idea of what good hardware user experience is all about. Maybe not.
Check out this post making the rounds today by marketing guy Gordon Miller (post now removed, here’s the Google cache), who had a hard time trying to set up a $10,000+ Microsoft Surface multi-touch table computer.
It’s a little nitpicky, but also amusing. And parts are dead-on. Why isn’t it obvious where the power cord goes? Why, for instance, doesn’t a touchscreen computer’s touchscreen work when it’s first turned on? Why should someone ever have to plug in a keyboard or mouse?
Miller: No doubt it took a lot of very smart people a very long time to bring this machine to market. It’s obvious that this represents the dedicated labour and craft of programmers, artists, designers, engineers and more, and I honour their work. But it’s a shame that Microsoft failed to with even the most basic usability review, which would have turned up the issue of the power cord. Even a simple, final walk-thru of the most common Use Case – that of a customer who buys and receives a new Surface unit – would’ve revealed the fact that there is no instruction, anywhere, to open up the keyboard and mouse and use it to launch the software.
As Miller’s colleague says, “Oh, it’s just so…Microsofty.” Not the reputation Microsoft should aspire to.
Update: Miller has since deleted the post, and replaced it with an explanation, taking some of the blame: “the poor set-up experience I described was the result of a simple error – had the use case that Microsoft envisioned happened correctly, I would never have had to struggle to find the power supply input.” You can read the rest of their explanation here. The best news: Microsoft has vowed to improve the experience.