Thoughts about Microsoft Build 2017

Well, I’m late to the party. Other news sites, bloggers, and vloggers have all covered it. They have their own thoughts about it. I’m going to do my own take on it, on only features that I’m interested in

For those who don’t already know, Microsoft held an event in Seattle between May 10 to 12, 2017 that introduced to the world a whole bunch of new things for Windows 10 that we all should be excited about — by that I mean techies.

To summarize, during the event, Microsoft pointed out several trends that’s going on that most of us already know: the rise of IOT devices, Artificial Intelligence, Serverless Architecture. They also talked about what they are doing regarding those trends. They are digging in deeper, delivering better solutions or services that customers need.

I’m more interested in their new Fluent Design. User experience and graphics is important to me (though I can’t really draw very well). Microsoft has attempted over the past decade to deliver a nice interface. They introduced Aero with Windows Vista, which was a massive flop. It was slow and sluggish. I’ve personally used it and don’t really like it. Then came Windows 7 and they improved Aero. It was much snappier and still look great.

Then came Windows 8 where they introduced what was known then as Metro design, subsequently known as Modern UI and then Microsoft Design Language. I personally liked it more than the pseudo-3D of Aero in Windows 7 because it is simplistic and minimalistic. It was improved Windows 8.1 and then in Windows 10.

However, the biggest gripe about Microsoft’s Windows was that the user interface isn’t consistent. There are some glaring defects that any good user interface designer should pick up on and fix it. Then, there is the fact that there are thousands if not millions of applications that runs on it. Many of which are legacy application and their user interface hasn’t been updated in ages. On the other hand, the web user interfaces have gotten so much better though every webpage is starting to look like each other due to the extensive use of common frameworks like bootstrap.

With Fluent Design, Microsoft aim to make Windows look great. As a design language, there are five main features:
1. Light
2. Depth
3. Motion
4. Material
5. Scale

You can read more about the Fluent Design System here.

When you combine all five of them properly in your application, the experience the user get will be so much better, richer and immerse them. This design language is in part, I believe due to the increase use and popularity of mixed-reality devices.

As someone who has been using Apple for more than year and already buy into the ecosystem, I’m somewhat excited to see how future applications made for Microsoft Windows will look like and how it will affect the way we as users interact with our devices. My concern was that, there is always the issue where the third-party developers do not ensure their app is consistent with the overall look and feel of the Windows running on the user’s computer.

Right now, the Fluent Design System is implemented in a somewhat beta form with the insiders build of Windows 10. If you are interested, you can download that and try it. Until it is released fully and used by many of the applications in Windows, I will stick with the experience I’m getting from Apple’s ecosystem.