Microsoft’s top designers leave to give away lovely flowers

This startup makes me sad. Not because it isn’t doing beautiful stuff. They are. Maryam will smile when she gets her flowers delivered this morning. UPDATE: she laughed and said “you remembered I love flowers.” I guess that’s a hint, huh? ;-)

But Long Zheng only gets part of the story of three designers who left Microsoft to start a new company. More on “They’re Beautiful” over on TechMeme.

See, I know two of the three people involved. But there are other designers I’ve seen come to Microsoft and leave, too.

These designers tried to make Microsoft build products that are more fun to use, more emotional, more visually pleasing, more user-centric.

IE, more like the iPhone.

But they keep getting shot down, over and over and over.

So they leave.

When I worked at Microsoft I helped get one very talented designer hired into Microsoft (I won’t name him, sorry). The fact that Jenny Lam was working at Microsoft was a key part of his decision to come. He only lasted a few months. He never told me the reason cause he’s a professional but I could see it in his eyes. He knew that the company would never listen to him.

Microsoft is run by geeks. You know the type. They don’t understand why you need to design in animations, great sounds, and a flow from one experience to the next. They, at heart, think that a simple text list is just as good as something that has nice animations, fonts, graphics, etc. Heck, most of the developers who work at Microsoft live in text editors all day long. Even if they do get it, the committees kill these features when the project runs behind schedule because they take a ton of coding time, a ton of testing time, and don’t provide any “hard” value to the product.

Ask yourself again whether the iPhone would sell as well if you had to click a “next” button to see your next photo instead of having them animate across the screen while you drag your finger. My Nokia has the “next” button style interface. My iPhone is magical to use because it does the drag-the-finger animations. Apple listens to its designers. Microsoft and Nokia obviously do not.

It isn’t lost on me that the Xbox team is not located on Microsoft’s campus. They forced Bill Gates to give them a series of buildings about five miles away from headquarters so that this geek culture couldn’t poison the teams who needed to build something a bit more artisitic. Er, emotional. It also isn’t lost on me that Bungie, the folks who make the video game Halo, has its own building 10 miles away from headquarters (in the opposite direction from the Xbox team) and doesn’t even have a Microsoft sign on the front of the building. When you walk into Bungie it’s clear that the artists run the place, not the developers.

Most engineers I’ve met don’t get this stuff. Don’t understand why video games have an emotional effect on people.

Last night I interviewed Nicole Lazarro of XEO Designs. She talks exactly like Jenny Lam. She’s an “emotional architect” and helps game companies improve their games and has a document about “Why We Play Games” that’s a good read for someone trying to understand the emotional response. She does TONS of user testing and she’s already working on a study about the iPhone and why it makes people smile when they use it (they do, and several of the reviewers say it literally makes them laugh when they use it).

Dave Winer, last night, when talking with Nicole, said that it felt like the iPhone was designed by a set of movie artists, rather than software designers. He said that was both good and bad. That it “felt good” (he says the iPhone feels like driving a BMW) but that they forgot lots of little lessons that software developers had learned over the past 30 years. I’ll let him tell you what he meant by that, but those of us with iPhones have all hit lots of walls, and when you hit a wall you’ve probably hit one of those places where a lesson was forgotten

Joe Hewitt, one of the developers on the first Firefox team, was working with Nicole to build a game on the iPhone, among other things. He’s writing about that experience on his blog, by the way. He keeps hitting the walls too and he’s having to do hack after hack just to get it to do something basic, and simple, like a list of song titles.

Anyway, I have an interview with Jenny Lam, back when she worked at Microsoft.

Jenny, and Hillel Cooperman, and Walter Smith are creating a company up in Seattle that’s already one to watch.

Oh, and the flowers? They are nice and all, but are really just a front end to Silicon Valley’s next big business model: Virtual Goods. If I were a Silicon Valley startup trying to get venture funding, I’d go visit Hillel and see what kinds of virtual goods partnerships they could make.

Thanks for the beautiful flowers, can’t wait to see what they do next.

I would rather have had a beautiful set of experiences on Windows, though, or an “iPhone killer” from the Windows Mobile group. I hope that the great designers still left inside Microsoft (and there are a few) start getting listened to by the culture inside Microsoft. But the stream of designers that leave Microsoft isn’t sending a gesture of love and inspiration.

Oh well, at least we have some nice virtual flowers.

Comments

  1. Paul: and if you get a designer from Frog Design drunk, do they say they were listened to and that all their ideas were put into the product? I’ve been out drinking with many of them. I know the answer.

    Why did Tjeerd leave the Windows team to go work for Frog Design? Was it because he was listened to inside Microsoft? http://www.frogdesign.com/press-release/frog-appoints-executive-creative-director-of-software-and-hardware-convergence-04262007.html

    Got it.

  2. Paul: and if you get a designer from Frog Design drunk, do they say they were listened to and that all their ideas were put into the product? I’ve been out drinking with many of them. I know the answer.

    Why did Tjeerd leave the Windows team to go work for Frog Design? Was it because he was listened to inside Microsoft? http://www.frogdesign.com/press-release/frog-appoints-executive-creative-director-of-software-and-hardware-convergence-04262007.html

    Got it.

  3. Robert, what you wrote is not entirely true. I agree there is a scope of improvement in designer’s role at Microsoft but it is not true that Microsoft ignore the design aspect. This is one of the blogs which carry extensive coverage on the effort put into Vista’s start up sound.

  4. Robert, what you wrote is not entirely true. I agree there is a scope of improvement in designer’s role at Microsoft but it is not true that Microsoft ignore the design aspect. This is one of the blogs which carry extensive coverage on the effort put into Vista’s start up sound.

  5. Kamal: don’t give me that horsepucky. I was a first-row witness to the startup sounds in Vista. They picked the worst sound out of the final 20. They could have really designed in some emotion. Given users a choice of sounds. Instead they gave us the peanut-butter-and-jelly sound that the committee picked.

    The musicians and emotional architects weren’t listened to. At all. Even surrounding the sound. I do note that both Tjeerd and Jenny were involved in that process and both have left. So have some other people involved on that process. Ask yourself why. Hint: they weren’t listened to. The marketers, the lawyers, and the geeks involved didn’t put the commitment into Vista to make it a breakthrough product like the iPhone is. Ask yourself why that is. Or, better yet, go to Hillel’s new site and send yourself some flowers.

  6. Kamal: don’t give me that horsepucky. I was a first-row witness to the startup sounds in Vista. They picked the worst sound out of the final 20. They could have really designed in some emotion. Given users a choice of sounds. Instead they gave us the peanut-butter-and-jelly sound that the committee picked.

    The musicians and emotional architects weren’t listened to. At all. Even surrounding the sound. I do note that both Tjeerd and Jenny were involved in that process and both have left. So have some other people involved on that process. Ask yourself why. Hint: they weren’t listened to. The marketers, the lawyers, and the geeks involved didn’t put the commitment into Vista to make it a breakthrough product like the iPhone is. Ask yourself why that is. Or, better yet, go to Hillel’s new site and send yourself some flowers.

  7. More important, I notice you slipped and said “my iPhone.” Last I checked, you had given an iPhone to Maryam for her birthday, and Patrick had saved to get one, but you didn’t have one…makes me wonder if Maryam’s post in her own blog was accurate :-)

  8. More important, I notice you slipped and said “my iPhone.” Last I checked, you had given an iPhone to Maryam for her birthday, and Patrick had saved to get one, but you didn’t have one…makes me wonder if Maryam’s post in her own blog was accurate :-)

  9. MS seems to be warming to the idea of good design. Ribbon interface in Office, XBox 360 Blade UI, Media Centre, Vista…baby steps though.

    As for “Nokia doesn’t understand good design”, I say hogwash. Nokia UI’s are so consistent that I never have trouble finding my way around any of their devices.

  10. Hi Robert — Thanks for the kind words! I just wanted to mention that there is no Flash on theyrebeautiful.com, just good old-fashioned DHTML. It works fine in Safari but I haven’t tried an iPhone. Hmm, did I just find an excuse to get one? :)

  11. Hi Robert — Thanks for the kind words! I just wanted to mention that there is no Flash on theyrebeautiful.com, just good old-fashioned DHTML. It works fine in Safari but I haven’t tried an iPhone. Hmm, did I just find an excuse to get one? :)

  12. MS seems to be warming to the idea of good design. Ribbon interface in Office, XBox 360 Blade UI, Media Centre, Vista…baby steps though.

    As for “Nokia doesn’t understand good design”, I say hogwash. Nokia UI’s are so consistent that I never have trouble finding my way around any of their devices.

  13. skc: I have no idea which Nokia you’re using, but it’s not the Nokia N95 I am. You sound like one of those geeks who control things inside Microsoft. Looking through pictures on the iPhone is 1000times nicer and easier than looking through them on the Nokia.

  14. skc: I have no idea which Nokia you’re using, but it’s not the Nokia N95 I am. You sound like one of those geeks who control things inside Microsoft. Looking through pictures on the iPhone is 1000times nicer and easier than looking through them on the Nokia.

  15. Frog Design has gotten me drunk at SXSW, but I did’nt know the Tjeerd joined them.

    Hopefully Microsft will listen to Tjeerd on their next project and Frog Design will pay him more then he ever would have earned at Microsoft.

  16. Frog Design has gotten me drunk at SXSW, but I did’nt know the Tjeerd joined them.

    Hopefully Microsft will listen to Tjeerd on their next project and Frog Design will pay him more then he ever would have earned at Microsoft.

  17. For the longest time I wondered if you got it or not. I just couldn’t tell…until today. Microsoft isn’t the only company that doesn’t get it. Just look at any Nokia or Motorola phone. Look at the set-top boxes that the cable companies give us. Look at TV remotes and MP3 players. They were all designed by engineers (hardware or software). Most of us went into that field because we love complexity, we thrive on figuring out how to use strange gadgets, and we are thrilled to find the easter-egg hidden inside a linux function. But most people aren’t like us.

    I’ve been saying ‘we and us’ but I’m not really one of the geek group any longer. I’ve morphed to the other side and while I still get my geek on from time to time, today I find myself in awe of the people who can design an iPod or TiVo. The ones who make the complex easy. They are who I try to emulate. Until they are appreciated (and come to hold some power) in the halls of Microsoft, Sony, Motorola, and Nokia companies like Apple will keep gaining mindshare. And marketshare follows mindshare.

  18. For the longest time I wondered if you got it or not. I just couldn’t tell…until today. Microsoft isn’t the only company that doesn’t get it. Just look at any Nokia or Motorola phone. Look at the set-top boxes that the cable companies give us. Look at TV remotes and MP3 players. They were all designed by engineers (hardware or software). Most of us went into that field because we love complexity, we thrive on figuring out how to use strange gadgets, and we are thrilled to find the easter-egg hidden inside a linux function. But most people aren’t like us.

    I’ve been saying ‘we and us’ but I’m not really one of the geek group any longer. I’ve morphed to the other side and while I still get my geek on from time to time, today I find myself in awe of the people who can design an iPod or TiVo. The ones who make the complex easy. They are who I try to emulate. Until they are appreciated (and come to hold some power) in the halls of Microsoft, Sony, Motorola, and Nokia companies like Apple will keep gaining mindshare. And marketshare follows mindshare.

  19. skc: the Ribbon interface in Office was designed by Julie Larsen Green. She’s awesome. I hope she lasts. I also hope she gets more done on Windows faster than the Office team did it. Office needed a redesign since the mid-1990s. It took a HUGE effort to get the team to finally get that their current design wasn’t working.

    Hopefully we don’t need to wait eight years for Windows to get some magic, er, emotion back.

    Julie is working against momentum, though. Tell a Windows user that their file manager needs to be different, for instance. Hell, go in and tell Chevron’s CTO that he needs something different. He’ll probably kick you out of his office.

  20. skc: the Ribbon interface in Office was designed by Julie Larsen Green. She’s awesome. I hope she lasts. I also hope she gets more done on Windows faster than the Office team did it. Office needed a redesign since the mid-1990s. It took a HUGE effort to get the team to finally get that their current design wasn’t working.

    Hopefully we don’t need to wait eight years for Windows to get some magic, er, emotion back.

    Julie is working against momentum, though. Tell a Windows user that their file manager needs to be different, for instance. Hell, go in and tell Chevron’s CTO that he needs something different. He’ll probably kick you out of his office.

  21. David: the iPhone threw me over to the other side. Yeah, the Nokia has more features. But they suck in usability and FUN compared to the iPhone.

  22. I’m always surprised (perhaps I shouldn’t be) when geeky blog readers focus on details with which they disagree rather than absorbing and acknowledging the validity of an underlying message. But then I guess that’s a variation on the issue you’re highlighting.

  23. I’m always surprised (perhaps I shouldn’t be) when geeky blog readers focus on details with which they disagree rather than absorbing and acknowledging the validity of an underlying message. But then I guess that’s a variation on the issue you’re highlighting.

  24. Robert, not at all. But what makes you think that just because YOU think the N95′s interface is lousy then everybody does?

    Are you some sort of all knowing design guru?

  25. Robert, not at all. But what makes you think that just because YOU think the N95′s interface is lousy then everybody does?

    Are you some sort of all knowing design guru?

  26. Robert,

    Do you think Microsoft in the 2000′s, has become IBM of the 1980′s? What is your perspective of why/ why not?

  27. Robert,

    Do you think Microsoft in the 2000′s, has become IBM of the 1980′s? What is your perspective of why/ why not?

  28. Hear hear.

    I find that some geeks and MBAs have found out that design equals business. But now we need to teach them that it doesn’t matter WHAT design you choose, but that some designs are objectively better than other designs. The failure of Windows Vista and the victory of the iPhone should convince Microsoft that the right design matters.

    Design is not just a matter of taste – and the geeks and the MBAs are NOT the ones to choose which way to go, designwise.

    By the way: I don’t know what to make of this, but http://www.theyrebeautiful.com has some serious problems in Firefox … :-/

  29. skc: easy. You are obviously missing the sales data here. Apple broke ALL the sales records, including ones that Nokia set, in the first week and the mania is still on. You should come to the Apple San Francisco store and interview people from around the world about what they think about the iPhone and how it compares to their existing phone.

    Also, I had a little talk with a Google executive. He told me that usage on the iPhone is off the charts. That they are seeing more usage than on any other device where Google’s maps are included. A huge amount more.

  30. skc: easy. You are obviously missing the sales data here. Apple broke ALL the sales records, including ones that Nokia set, in the first week and the mania is still on. You should come to the Apple San Francisco store and interview people from around the world about what they think about the iPhone and how it compares to their existing phone.

    Also, I had a little talk with a Google executive. He told me that usage on the iPhone is off the charts. That they are seeing more usage than on any other device where Google’s maps are included. A huge amount more.

  31. Hear hear.

    I find that some geeks and MBAs have found out that design equals business. But now we need to teach them that it doesn’t matter WHAT design you choose, but that some designs are objectively better than other designs. The failure of Windows Vista and the victory of the iPhone should convince Microsoft that the right design matters.

    Design is not just a matter of taste – and the geeks and the MBAs are NOT the ones to choose which way to go, designwise.

    By the way: I don’t know what to make of this, but http://www.theyrebeautiful.com has some serious problems in Firefox … :-/

  32. skc: no, I’m not a design guru. I just know a ton of them. What are your qualifications?

    Larry: yes and no. Microsoft is still disrupting the world in some places and still moves faster than IBM in a whole lot of them. I just did an interview with an IBM executive and it’s clear that they are moving to being a huge consulting agency. Microsoft still hasn’t done that and is still trying to make products that change the world. Whether or not they are successful we can argue about it.

  33. “But the stream of designers that leave Microsoft isn’t sending a gesture of love and inspiration.”

    Who cares? “Developers, developers, developers.” Remember, that sad company called Apple, Inc. (how trendy) lost the war and 95% of the market. They sent developers to events, t-shirts, doodads.

  34. skc: no, I’m not a design guru. I just know a ton of them. What are your qualifications?

    Larry: yes and no. Microsoft is still disrupting the world in some places and still moves faster than IBM in a whole lot of them. I just did an interview with an IBM executive and it’s clear that they are moving to being a huge consulting agency. Microsoft still hasn’t done that and is still trying to make products that change the world. Whether or not they are successful we can argue about it.

  35. “But the stream of designers that leave Microsoft isn’t sending a gesture of love and inspiration.”

    Who cares? “Developers, developers, developers.” Remember, that sad company called Apple, Inc. (how trendy) lost the war and 95% of the market. They sent developers to events, t-shirts, doodads.

  36. Anona: I’ve been hanging around with developers since the early 1990s. I don’t remember ever being given a T-shirt from Apple at an event. I have a TON from Microsoft, though. Admittedly I don’t pay to go to Apple’s own events.

    But, you’re right. But the world is changing. Back in the 1980s you could get major press and kudos with a character-mode DOS app. Today? Your app better look like Vista or the iPhone or no one will pay attention to it.

    Designers are gaining power on technology teams. Even Microsoft realizes this and is why they are throwing tons of their best developers onto teams that build the Expression line of products which are aimed mostly at designers.

  37. Anona: I’ve been hanging around with developers since the early 1990s. I don’t remember ever being given a T-shirt from Apple at an event. I have a TON from Microsoft, though. Admittedly I don’t pay to go to Apple’s own events.

    But, you’re right. But the world is changing. Back in the 1980s you could get major press and kudos with a character-mode DOS app. Today? Your app better look like Vista or the iPhone or no one will pay attention to it.

    Designers are gaining power on technology teams. Even Microsoft realizes this and is why they are throwing tons of their best developers onto teams that build the Expression line of products which are aimed mostly at designers.

  38. I hope the Zune designers are listening to you.

    The next gen Zune will struggle if it doesn’t leverage some of Apple’s emotional design ideas.

  39. I hope the Zune designers are listening to you.

    The next gen Zune will struggle if it doesn’t leverage some of Apple’s emotional design ideas.

  40. Completely agree Robert.

    When technology has emotion attached to it because it is so damn fun & accessible, that is when it explodes (look at the iPod, iPhone, Wii, etc.), that is when you really see people enjoying technology.

    That is when you have to simple (especially when you work for the company that makes the product).

    It is really easy to see why companies like Apple, Nintendo, etc. just plain get it, and it is hard to see why companies like Microsoft, Nokia, Motorola just don’t get it. It is so simple yet so hard to understand.

  41. Completely agree Robert.

    When technology has emotion attached to it because it is so damn fun & accessible, that is when it explodes (look at the iPod, iPhone, Wii, etc.), that is when you really see people enjoying technology.

    That is when you have to simple (especially when you work for the company that makes the product).

    It is really easy to see why companies like Apple, Nintendo, etc. just plain get it, and it is hard to see why companies like Microsoft, Nokia, Motorola just don’t get it. It is so simple yet so hard to understand.

  42. If design is so important why did Podtech rip off an artist Robert? Are u guys ever going to pay the photographer you stole photos from? What about the Vloggie awards. Guess you don’t really care about designers just iPhonez.

  43. If design is so important why did Podtech rip off an artist Robert? Are u guys ever going to pay the photographer you stole photos from? What about the Vloggie awards. Guess you don’t really care about designers just iPhonez.

  44. skc: you should talk to Leo Laporte about how the Nokia N95 sucks. He can’t even take photos with his anymore cause it doesn’t work.

    When it does work it takes great photos, but it certainly is not even close to as fun to use as the iPhone is.

  45. skc: you should talk to Leo Laporte about how the Nokia N95 sucks. He can’t even take photos with his anymore cause it doesn’t work.

    When it does work it takes great photos, but it certainly is not even close to as fun to use as the iPhone is.

  46. Stephen: we didn’t “rip off” a photographer. We made a mistake. Someone used a photo from Flickr on a sign without getting permission. Now that photographer is negotiating with us over what that photo is worth. We are willing to pay $1,000, he wants $3,000. I’ve asked a ton of professional photographers what they’d have charged in a similar circumstance and the average price is $200.

    As for the Vloggie awards? It’s obvious you are reading Valleywag. Anyone who believes a single word on Valleywag deserves what they get. They don’t care about the truth. It’s pretty obvious you don’t either.

    Everyone who earned a Vloggie award has one. If not, my phone number is 425-205-1921. I haven’t gotten a single phone call yet and no “journalist” (and I use that word lightly) from Valleywag has called to verify the “facts” they are reporting either.

  47. Stephen: we didn’t “rip off” a photographer. We made a mistake. Someone used a photo from Flickr on a sign without getting permission. Now that photographer is negotiating with us over what that photo is worth. We are willing to pay $1,000, he wants $3,000. I’ve asked a ton of professional photographers what they’d have charged in a similar circumstance and the average price is $200.

    As for the Vloggie awards? It’s obvious you are reading Valleywag. Anyone who believes a single word on Valleywag deserves what they get. They don’t care about the truth. It’s pretty obvious you don’t either.

    Everyone who earned a Vloggie award has one. If not, my phone number is 425-205-1921. I haven’t gotten a single phone call yet and no “journalist” (and I use that word lightly) from Valleywag has called to verify the “facts” they are reporting either.

  48. “It looks like they did a good job with Live Earth streaming this weekend.”

    Wouldn’t know: didn’t work on my Mac. Hello, are we in the year 2007?

  49. I was just thinking the opposite, that Microsoft could be in danger of copying the WRONG UI stuff from Apple. I read with interest how Dave Winer found the iPhone music UI harder to use than the iPod UI, all those cascading CD covers etc….this weekend, in all the cmoputer and Best Buy flyers in our local Sunday paper, what is highlighted in Vista but cascading, animated windows. It’s very dangerous for Microsoft to copy the flash but miss the soul and ease of use — and this comes from someone who is not an Apple-backer in the least….

  50. “It looks like they did a good job with Live Earth streaming this weekend.”

    Wouldn’t know: didn’t work on my Mac. Hello, are we in the year 2007?

  51. I was just thinking the opposite, that Microsoft could be in danger of copying the WRONG UI stuff from Apple. I read with interest how Dave Winer found the iPhone music UI harder to use than the iPod UI, all those cascading CD covers etc….this weekend, in all the cmoputer and Best Buy flyers in our local Sunday paper, what is highlighted in Vista but cascading, animated windows. It’s very dangerous for Microsoft to copy the flash but miss the soul and ease of use — and this comes from someone who is not an Apple-backer in the least….

  52. The fastest way to kill something is to throw an MBA into the mix. Or let the bean counters run the company. Or even worse, put a sales guy in charge.
    The business side of the world is not very creative (if at all) and business schools just keep crankin out the same old management types. Of course, there aren’t many Steve Jobs. The geeks are just the tip of the problematic iceberg.

  53. The fastest way to kill something is to throw an MBA into the mix. Or let the bean counters run the company. Or even worse, put a sales guy in charge.
    The business side of the world is not very creative (if at all) and business schools just keep crankin out the same old management types. Of course, there aren’t many Steve Jobs. The geeks are just the tip of the problematic iceberg.

  54. Joe: good point. That also happens when designers are allowed to put a little lipstick on the pig, but aren’t able to redesign the pig from scratch. Of course redesigning something like Windows, which has so many users/constituencies, is REALLY tough.

  55. Joe: good point. That also happens when designers are allowed to put a little lipstick on the pig, but aren’t able to redesign the pig from scratch. Of course redesigning something like Windows, which has so many users/constituencies, is REALLY tough.

  56. “Your app better look like Vista or the iPhone or no one will pay attention to it.”

    This is exactly why today the consumer market is where things are happening. It used to be business first and hand-me-downs for the consumer market later. Today it’s the reverse. And that’s why MSFT, bolted to IT as it is, is the legacy back-runner.

    Take one example. The iPhone and the Exchange mail business. The FUD on this by pundits without a clue of tech trends is simply amazing. The talk is always about how the iPhone which everyone seems to enjoy using will flop because, allegedly, it can’t work with Exchange, and what Apple has to do and how it needs to capitulate, yada yada. None of these people ever frame the problem as: how can MSFT redo Exchange to run smoothly with a new generation of devices like the iPhone that people want to use? How can MSFT take advantage of emerging opportunities, as opposed to how others must bend to MSFT? This isn’t the old Soviet Union, but apparently the message hasn’t reached MSFT yet.

    “Expression line of products which are aimed mostly at designers.”

    BTW, Expression hasn’t been the spark MSFT had hoped for.

  57. “Your app better look like Vista or the iPhone or no one will pay attention to it.”

    This is exactly why today the consumer market is where things are happening. It used to be business first and hand-me-downs for the consumer market later. Today it’s the reverse. And that’s why MSFT, bolted to IT as it is, is the legacy back-runner.

    Take one example. The iPhone and the Exchange mail business. The FUD on this by pundits without a clue of tech trends is simply amazing. The talk is always about how the iPhone which everyone seems to enjoy using will flop because, allegedly, it can’t work with Exchange, and what Apple has to do and how it needs to capitulate, yada yada. None of these people ever frame the problem as: how can MSFT redo Exchange to run smoothly with a new generation of devices like the iPhone that people want to use? How can MSFT take advantage of emerging opportunities, as opposed to how others must bend to MSFT? This isn’t the old Soviet Union, but apparently the message hasn’t reached MSFT yet.

    “Expression line of products which are aimed mostly at designers.”

    BTW, Expression hasn’t been the spark MSFT had hoped for.

  58. As a designer who worked on the XP shell team, I definitely agree with what you’ve written, Scoble. It was a struggle to get even modest design improvements into Windows, and we had a tiny team of about ten people. That Vista is actually pretty nice is something of a miracle, thanks to Tjeerd and his team. And for the record, Frog Design’s contribution on XP was minute. Remember the “fried egg” looking skin for Windows Media Player? That was most of it.

    I’ve been back on campus for some Microsoft contract work in the last few months, and got a chance to chat with Tjeerd a bit on his last day. Tjeerd’s shoes will be hard to fill. If there is a design personality, it tends to be sensitive and a little introverted, and it’s hard for designers to feel successful in the aggessive, fast-talking, bluntly critical culture of Microsoft. Tjeerd was able to succeed within that culture, and create a design-friendly island. But, when it comes down to it, design is not truly valued at Microsoft, and that’s a big reason why Tjeerd and other highly talented designers decide to try other things.

    When something like the iPhone comes along, I get a little hopeful that Microsoft will be reminded how valuable design is. After all, the iPhone’s success will be all about it’s design. The technology is *not* revolutionary. The designed experience is what delights people.

    But basically, Microsoft is technology company, and has been so successful that the culture has never had to embrace design in order to survive. By contrast, Apple’s very existence relies on design. Otherwise a Mac is just a PC with a one button mouse.

  59. As a designer who worked on the XP shell team, I definitely agree with what you’ve written, Scoble. It was a struggle to get even modest design improvements into Windows, and we had a tiny team of about ten people. That Vista is actually pretty nice is something of a miracle, thanks to Tjeerd and his team. And for the record, Frog Design’s contribution on XP was minute. Remember the “fried egg” looking skin for Windows Media Player? That was most of it.

    I’ve been back on campus for some Microsoft contract work in the last few months, and got a chance to chat with Tjeerd a bit on his last day. Tjeerd’s shoes will be hard to fill. If there is a design personality, it tends to be sensitive and a little introverted, and it’s hard for designers to feel successful in the aggessive, fast-talking, bluntly critical culture of Microsoft. Tjeerd was able to succeed within that culture, and create a design-friendly island. But, when it comes down to it, design is not truly valued at Microsoft, and that’s a big reason why Tjeerd and other highly talented designers decide to try other things.

    When something like the iPhone comes along, I get a little hopeful that Microsoft will be reminded how valuable design is. After all, the iPhone’s success will be all about it’s design. The technology is *not* revolutionary. The designed experience is what delights people.

    But basically, Microsoft is technology company, and has been so successful that the culture has never had to embrace design in order to survive. By contrast, Apple’s very existence relies on design. Otherwise a Mac is just a PC with a one button mouse.

  60. I have been a silent reader of Scoble’s since early in his C9 days and I find this sort of information INVALUABLE to developers like myself.

    The face of computing is changing and to ignore people like Scoble and companies like Apple and Google is to be stupid. Agree or Disagree but be thankful for this sort of information from someone who has proved himself to be a trustworthy and unbiased source of information. Thanks Robert.

    Shaun McDonnell

  61. I have been a silent reader of Scoble’s since early in his C9 days and I find this sort of information INVALUABLE to developers like myself.

    The face of computing is changing and to ignore people like Scoble and companies like Apple and Google is to be stupid. Agree or Disagree but be thankful for this sort of information from someone who has proved himself to be a trustworthy and unbiased source of information. Thanks Robert.

    Shaun McDonnell

  62. “When I worked at Microsoft I helped get one very talented designer hired into Microsoft (I won’t name him, sorry).”

    What Microsoft considers very talented people is just plain wrong. Why do you think the company has shot downhill 1000% since 1995. The only person that was truly talented there was Bill and he’s on his way out. The rest are borg drones.

    How can somebody like Rory be considered talented for example?
    I don’t want to contribute to his situation from last week, so anybody reading through, please don’t tell him. I am just using that as an example.

    The people that are the most talented it would seem are the ones that aren’t popularized.
    Would Scoble have know Larry Page and Sergey Brin were the next Bill Gates when they were in their rented garage and to try to hire them?
    No, of course not, and that’s why MS has no clue at all.

    Really good developers would most likely not choose a lowly 1-800 flowers clone as an ambitious project. I’m sorry, they just wouldn’t. That’s lowly with a capital L as far as software is concerned.

  63. “When I worked at Microsoft I helped get one very talented designer hired into Microsoft (I won’t name him, sorry).”

    What Microsoft considers very talented people is just plain wrong. Why do you think the company has shot downhill 1000% since 1995. The only person that was truly talented there was Bill and he’s on his way out. The rest are borg drones.

    How can somebody like Rory be considered talented for example?
    I don’t want to contribute to his situation from last week, so anybody reading through, please don’t tell him. I am just using that as an example.

    The people that are the most talented it would seem are the ones that aren’t popularized.
    Would Scoble have know Larry Page and Sergey Brin were the next Bill Gates when they were in their rented garage and to try to hire them?
    No, of course not, and that’s why MS has no clue at all.

    Really good developers would most likely not choose a lowly 1-800 flowers clone as an ambitious project. I’m sorry, they just wouldn’t. That’s lowly with a capital L as far as software is concerned.

  64. Well I take Microsoft side on this.
    therebeautiful design suck big time from the enduser experience perspective, IMHO.

    Microsoft among other things helped them gain their credibility and authority more than they contributed to Microsoft.

  65. Well I take Microsoft side on this.
    therebeautiful design suck big time from the enduser experience perspective, IMHO.

    Microsoft among other things helped them gain their credibility and authority more than they contributed to Microsoft.

  66. My bad, they are emailing a link to view clipart of flowers, not selling actual flowers. Geez. Wow.
    I don’t believe software developers made this. Not at all.
    Even if they did work for Microsoft.

  67. My bad, they are emailing a link to view clipart of flowers, not selling actual flowers. Geez. Wow.
    I don’t believe software developers made this. Not at all.
    Even if they did work for Microsoft.

  68. Chris: do you realize that hotornot.com sells virtual flowers for $10 a piece and is doing a landmark business in doing so? Or that there’s companies over in Korea that are making tens of millions of dollars from virtual goods?

  69. Chris: do you realize that hotornot.com sells virtual flowers for $10 a piece and is doing a landmark business in doing so? Or that there’s companies over in Korea that are making tens of millions of dollars from virtual goods?

  70. Robert Scoble

    If I would put it harshly, it sucks like Hallmark Greeting Cards suck. A lot of people still use them, but not people who have taste. And that has nothing to do with who is geeky and who isn’t.

  71. Robert Scoble

    If I would put it harshly, it sucks like Hallmark Greeting Cards suck. A lot of people still use them, but not people who have taste. And that has nothing to do with who is geeky and who isn’t.

  72. Also, I think enthusiasts and bloggers are missing what has made Apple design good when its been good.

    All of the attempts of Apple to be ‘emotional experiences’ gave way to more smooth minimal design in time. Fruity iMacs, gone. Pinstripe, gone.

    The mac interface and mac hardware is becoming more and more minimal, with the ‘emotional’ aspects of it disappearing over time, because people realize its bad taste.

    I really think that Microsoft does need to improve a lot of things in their design, but if they go for all the gimmicky things that Apple started with and then dropped, they’ll be learning the wrong thing about Apple’s story.

  73. Also, I think enthusiasts and bloggers are missing what has made Apple design good when its been good.

    All of the attempts of Apple to be ‘emotional experiences’ gave way to more smooth minimal design in time. Fruity iMacs, gone. Pinstripe, gone.

    The mac interface and mac hardware is becoming more and more minimal, with the ‘emotional’ aspects of it disappearing over time, because people realize its bad taste.

    I really think that Microsoft does need to improve a lot of things in their design, but if they go for all the gimmicky things that Apple started with and then dropped, they’ll be learning the wrong thing about Apple’s story.

  74. “My iPhone is magical to use because it does the drag-the-finger animations.”

    Robert, I’m confused. I thought your iPhone was a birthday gift to Maryam :-) Have you purchased another one?

  75. “My iPhone is magical to use because it does the drag-the-finger animations.”

    Robert, I’m confused. I thought your iPhone was a birthday gift to Maryam :-) Have you purchased another one?

  76. I agree Robert, it’s sad. Too many smart people leave because innovation is stifled. it makes me very sad to see talent leave and i know a few outside Redmond who have done the same.

    one thing that does frustrate me is that people think the only talent exists in Redmond. There is plenty across the world of Microosft and their voices need to be heard and their stories told. it’s not all about cool products but also about how people use existing products in cool ways. Like the Silverlight stuff with Skinkers this week. UK company working with MSR UK doing very cool stuff.

    We’re a platform company after all and though http://www.microsoft.com/design/Voices/Master.aspx is cool, it needs an update

  77. I agree Robert, it’s sad. Too many smart people leave because innovation is stifled. it makes me very sad to see talent leave and i know a few outside Redmond who have done the same.

    one thing that does frustrate me is that people think the only talent exists in Redmond. There is plenty across the world of Microosft and their voices need to be heard and their stories told. it’s not all about cool products but also about how people use existing products in cool ways. Like the Silverlight stuff with Skinkers this week. UK company working with MSR UK doing very cool stuff.

    We’re a platform company after all and though http://www.microsoft.com/design/Voices/Master.aspx is cool, it needs an update

  78. @15 skc hits at the core of why this is so hard. Who is an all-knowing design guru? Designers aren’t infallable. Some of the designs they propose are better than others. Some degrade usability. Many clients are clueless about how to judge designs other than to say “I like it,” “I don’t like it,” or “too much dev time to execute.”

    Listening to designers doesn’t necessarily mean doing whatever they propose. Jobs is not just passionate about design, he spends a good chunk of his time every week reviewing design. He looks at U-I design, industrial design, and marketing design. The market appeal of Apple products depend on all three. Design isn’t decoration that gets sprinkled onto a product. It’s in the DNA. Of the designs that are presented to Steve Jobs, for example, how many does he bless and how many does he reject? Anybody know the ratio? (I suspect that’s one of Apple’s closely-guarded trade secrets.)

    Thanks, Robert for opening this topic. Sadly, design remains a mysterious and suspect discipline for many folks who are responsible for making decisions about tech projects. We’re all the poorer for that.

  79. @15 skc hits at the core of why this is so hard. Who is an all-knowing design guru? Designers aren’t infallable. Some of the designs they propose are better than others. Some degrade usability. Many clients are clueless about how to judge designs other than to say “I like it,” “I don’t like it,” or “too much dev time to execute.”

    Listening to designers doesn’t necessarily mean doing whatever they propose. Jobs is not just passionate about design, he spends a good chunk of his time every week reviewing design. He looks at U-I design, industrial design, and marketing design. The market appeal of Apple products depend on all three. Design isn’t decoration that gets sprinkled onto a product. It’s in the DNA. Of the designs that are presented to Steve Jobs, for example, how many does he bless and how many does he reject? Anybody know the ratio? (I suspect that’s one of Apple’s closely-guarded trade secrets.)

    Thanks, Robert for opening this topic. Sadly, design remains a mysterious and suspect discipline for many folks who are responsible for making decisions about tech projects. We’re all the poorer for that.

  80. “Chris: do you realize that hotornot.com sells virtual flowers for $10 a piece and is doing a landmark business in doing so? Or that there’s companies over in Korea that are making tens of millions of dollars from virtual goods?”

    People are so retarded. I did not realize how much until now.
    Anybody that pays 10 dollars to briefly look at bad clip art of flowers that they were spam mailed is beyond salvation.

    No Scoble, if it were that easy, we wouldn’t be building hot new tech. Do you realize how much revenue a site like friendster or myspace could make if they simply charged ONE DOLLAR???
    So why don’t they?

    Do you think the owners of those websites would simply turn down the money?
    Different audience, and from what I can tell They’re Beautiful doesn’t seem to be advertised in Korean.
    They also do not have a bank of women showing themselves off in pictures to salivating men, ready to do anything to get their attention.

  81. “Chris: do you realize that hotornot.com sells virtual flowers for $10 a piece and is doing a landmark business in doing so? Or that there’s companies over in Korea that are making tens of millions of dollars from virtual goods?”

    People are so retarded. I did not realize how much until now.
    Anybody that pays 10 dollars to briefly look at bad clip art of flowers that they were spam mailed is beyond salvation.

    No Scoble, if it were that easy, we wouldn’t be building hot new tech. Do you realize how much revenue a site like friendster or myspace could make if they simply charged ONE DOLLAR???
    So why don’t they?

    Do you think the owners of those websites would simply turn down the money?
    Different audience, and from what I can tell They’re Beautiful doesn’t seem to be advertised in Korean.
    They also do not have a bank of women showing themselves off in pictures to salivating men, ready to do anything to get their attention.

  82. As crazy as it sounds, the Microsoft product that has impressed me the most lately is Windows Live Writer. It’s pretty basic but it’s pretty and it works well. It’s well designed.

    I still can’t stand Vista though. I’m very happy running XP with the Zune theme.

  83. As crazy as it sounds, the Microsoft product that has impressed me the most lately is Windows Live Writer. It’s pretty basic but it’s pretty and it works well. It’s well designed.

    I still can’t stand Vista though. I’m very happy running XP with the Zune theme.

  84. Chris (comment 48), you may have noticed that Facebook sells virtual “gifts” starting at one dollar. Don’t know how much they sell, but wouldn’t be surprised if that’s a pretty significant and growing number over a user base of 25 plus million, half of whom log in every day.

    The virtual goods business model is in it’s infancy…kind of like the days of prodigy and compuserve.

    One of your best posts, Robert. Curious, who would you say is the highest ranking “emotional architect” at Microsoft?

    If you’re hesitant to name names, how many “EAs” you think have reached the upper echelons are your alma mater?

    thanks.

  85. Chris (comment 48), you may have noticed that Facebook sells virtual “gifts” starting at one dollar. Don’t know how much they sell, but wouldn’t be surprised if that’s a pretty significant and growing number over a user base of 25 plus million, half of whom log in every day.

    The virtual goods business model is in it’s infancy…kind of like the days of prodigy and compuserve.

    One of your best posts, Robert. Curious, who would you say is the highest ranking “emotional architect” at Microsoft?

    If you’re hesitant to name names, how many “EAs” you think have reached the upper echelons are your alma mater?

    thanks.

  86. Want to Build Amazing Software Experiences? Adobe has Your Back

    On Techmeme today a couple of people are posting about They’re Beautiful, a project that came out of Jackson Fish Market, a company started by three designers who were at Microsoft. Scoble wrote a big long post about how Microsoft just can’…

  87. The Office UI team got out some rather nice looking stuff, way better than what you’ve got with Vista. Now that a lot of people of said team are now in charge of the Vienna UI, and probably things past that, maybe we finally get something decent.

  88. The Office UI team got out some rather nice looking stuff, way better than what you’ve got with Vista. Now that a lot of people of said team are now in charge of the Vienna UI, and probably things past that, maybe we finally get something decent.

  89. And for that matter, if I were in charge of the UI team and had to defend myself in front of a goddamn committee, the answer to every question of theirs would be either “APPLE!” or throwing hardware of them in their general direction. At some point, even they have to get it.

  90. And for that matter, if I were in charge of the UI team and had to defend myself in front of a goddamn committee, the answer to every question of theirs would be either “APPLE!” or throwing hardware of them in their general direction. At some point, even they have to get it.

  91. “The virtual goods business model is in it’s infancy…kind of like the days of prodigy and compuserve.”

    Hello?

    Virtual goods have been SELLING on the internet for 15 years now. Software, games, music, ebooks, stock photos being sold online is virtual goods has been going on for years.

    I think you explicitly mean virtual clipart gifts, specifically from men to women. That in itself is not new as dating sites have been doing that for years as well.

    While it is true that Koreans have been conditioned to want and pay for this, it is less true in our market. At the very least you need a large pool of hot women in order to make that work. Not politically correct, but true.

  92. “The virtual goods business model is in it’s infancy…kind of like the days of prodigy and compuserve.”

    Hello?

    Virtual goods have been SELLING on the internet for 15 years now. Software, games, music, ebooks, stock photos being sold online is virtual goods has been going on for years.

    I think you explicitly mean virtual clipart gifts, specifically from men to women. That in itself is not new as dating sites have been doing that for years as well.

    While it is true that Koreans have been conditioned to want and pay for this, it is less true in our market. At the very least you need a large pool of hot women in order to make that work. Not politically correct, but true.

  93. Robert, hotornot.com doesn’t sell virtual flowers, they sell an invite to meet someone wrapped in virtual flowers. there’s a big difference between that and this stupid flowers thing.

    it’s bad design the other way: prettiness is all that matters, functionality is irrelevant. put on your calendar to post about jacksonfish a year from now, i bet at least one of them has gone back to the mothership by then.

  94. Robert, hotornot.com doesn’t sell virtual flowers, they sell an invite to meet someone wrapped in virtual flowers. there’s a big difference between that and this stupid flowers thing.

    it’s bad design the other way: prettiness is all that matters, functionality is irrelevant. put on your calendar to post about jacksonfish a year from now, i bet at least one of them has gone back to the mothership by then.

  95. I’ve had beers with enough Nokia designers and other employees over the years to have gotten the impression that what Scoble is describing is a lot like what happens at Nokia too, except the abuses being committed by managers, not by actual engineers. The decisions are made by managers who have no real investment in the product, and just don’t want to rock the boat; they sit around in meeting rooms all day talking crap about things they know nothing about, and come up with nonsensical decisions. Then far, far too much of it is subcontracted out, so most of it is just enforced by contract, rather than having designers/coders be able to stand up and say hold on, this makes no sense, and it’s going to be complete crap.

    I’ve been a Nokia user(never an employee, and probably never after this post.. :) ) ever since their first “car phones”. Their initial UI was fantastic–simple, fast, and got the job done. I’ve stuck with them since because they have still managed to keep the UI better then the atrocious UIs of their competitors. Even so, “better than horrible” does not equate “good”.

    Now that the iPhone is out, Nokia has an example of the kind of phone I know many of their designers have been pushing for for years–apps that are integrated, simple, and coherent. Unfortunately I suspect that what the managers will take away from the iPhone will be no more than “we need to add transparency and more animations!” and more of Nokia’s actually fantastic human resources will head off to jobs elsewhere.

  96. I’ve had beers with enough Nokia designers and other employees over the years to have gotten the impression that what Scoble is describing is a lot like what happens at Nokia too, except the abuses being committed by managers, not by actual engineers. The decisions are made by managers who have no real investment in the product, and just don’t want to rock the boat; they sit around in meeting rooms all day talking crap about things they know nothing about, and come up with nonsensical decisions. Then far, far too much of it is subcontracted out, so most of it is just enforced by contract, rather than having designers/coders be able to stand up and say hold on, this makes no sense, and it’s going to be complete crap.

    I’ve been a Nokia user(never an employee, and probably never after this post.. :) ) ever since their first “car phones”. Their initial UI was fantastic–simple, fast, and got the job done. I’ve stuck with them since because they have still managed to keep the UI better then the atrocious UIs of their competitors. Even so, “better than horrible” does not equate “good”.

    Now that the iPhone is out, Nokia has an example of the kind of phone I know many of their designers have been pushing for for years–apps that are integrated, simple, and coherent. Unfortunately I suspect that what the managers will take away from the iPhone will be no more than “we need to add transparency and more animations!” and more of Nokia’s actually fantastic human resources will head off to jobs elsewhere.

  97. “It is really easy to see why companies like Apple, Nintendo, etc. just plain get it, and it is hard to see why companies like Microsoft, Nokia, Motorola just don’t get it. It is so simple yet so hard to understand.”

    Before cannonizing Apple and Nintendo, let’s not forget their huge design mistakes:
    Apple: Flower-Power and Tie-Dye iMacs.
    Apple: Lamp Shade iMacs.
    Nintendo: Lunchbox GameCube
    Apple: QuickTime player, period (both Mac and Windows versions).
    Apple: iTunes UI

    All companies have hits and misses.

    Scoble, you ignored Gary Russo’s comments regarding Microsoft’s streaming of Live Earth (why, because it goes against your theory that Microsoft can do no right)?
    http://news.com.com/8301-10784_3-9740511-7.html?part=rss&subj=news&tag=2547-1_3-0-5

  98. “It is really easy to see why companies like Apple, Nintendo, etc. just plain get it, and it is hard to see why companies like Microsoft, Nokia, Motorola just don’t get it. It is so simple yet so hard to understand.”

    Before cannonizing Apple and Nintendo, let’s not forget their huge design mistakes:
    Apple: Flower-Power and Tie-Dye iMacs.
    Apple: Lamp Shade iMacs.
    Nintendo: Lunchbox GameCube
    Apple: QuickTime player, period (both Mac and Windows versions).
    Apple: iTunes UI

    All companies have hits and misses.

    Scoble, you ignored Gary Russo’s comments regarding Microsoft’s streaming of Live Earth (why, because it goes against your theory that Microsoft can do no right)?
    http://news.com.com/8301-10784_3-9740511-7.html?part=rss&subj=news&tag=2547-1_3-0-5

  99. It’s nice to see public recognize the importance and significance of designers.

    It’s nice to see this blog covering design.

    http://www.theyrebeautiful.com needs to adjust the homepage layout for certain browser with installed toolbars. You can’t click the button if the Grass Footer id=”footer” is covering those 2 buttons where the id=”page_buttons” is.

    I am trying to encourage Wikis to put more efforts on the Beauty side of the equation. We’ll see more on our “Beauty & the Beast of Wiki – Usability vs Functionality”.

  100. It’s nice to see public recognize the importance and significance of designers.

    It’s nice to see this blog covering design.

    http://www.theyrebeautiful.com needs to adjust the homepage layout for certain browser with installed toolbars. You can’t click the button if the Grass Footer id=”footer” is covering those 2 buttons where the id=”page_buttons” is.

    I am trying to encourage Wikis to put more efforts on the Beauty side of the equation. We’ll see more on our “Beauty & the Beast of Wiki – Usability vs Functionality”.

  101. “It also isn’t lost on me that Bungie, the folks who make the video game Halo, has its own building 10 miles away from headquarters (in the opposite direction from the Xbox team) and doesn’t even have a Microsoft sign on the front of the building. When you walk into Bungie it’s clear that the artists run the place, not the developers.”

    It is classical innovation and new ventures thinking to separate the culture of a new venture from the “going down the cost curve” mainstream thinking of the parent.

    A creative culture is needed for the new projects. Xbox has been a happy accident for Microsoft and they still don’t realise this to the full extent. One of the key reasons it is successful is that it is a separate, physical and different culture from the main MS crew.

  102. “It also isn’t lost on me that Bungie, the folks who make the video game Halo, has its own building 10 miles away from headquarters (in the opposite direction from the Xbox team) and doesn’t even have a Microsoft sign on the front of the building. When you walk into Bungie it’s clear that the artists run the place, not the developers.”

    It is classical innovation and new ventures thinking to separate the culture of a new venture from the “going down the cost curve” mainstream thinking of the parent.

    A creative culture is needed for the new projects. Xbox has been a happy accident for Microsoft and they still don’t realise this to the full extent. One of the key reasons it is successful is that it is a separate, physical and different culture from the main MS crew.

  103. I think one thing is wrong in your entry, IME most *good* developers won’t say no to a good UI designer.

    They probably won’t bother/don’t know how to do it right to begin with, but if the designer can show how the changed UI helps the user they’ll be happy to implement it if they can.

    If the designer can’t show how the changes help the user then why should the developer bother? (Before anyone mentions a consistant company look/feel that [should] help the user)

    However, there are always situations where for one reason or another a UI improvement can’t be used for some platform, time or cost constraint.

  104. I think one thing is wrong in your entry, IME most *good* developers won’t say no to a good UI designer.

    They probably won’t bother/don’t know how to do it right to begin with, but if the designer can show how the changed UI helps the user they’ll be happy to implement it if they can.

    If the designer can’t show how the changes help the user then why should the developer bother? (Before anyone mentions a consistant company look/feel that [should] help the user)

    However, there are always situations where for one reason or another a UI improvement can’t be used for some platform, time or cost constraint.

  105. I would just like to point out for the record that there is only one designer at Jackson Fish. I’m very much a developer, and Hillel is…hard to briefly describe. :)

    Also, Bess: we are mowing the grass real soon now!

  106. I would just like to point out for the record that there is only one designer at Jackson Fish. I’m very much a developer, and Hillel is…hard to briefly describe. :)

    Also, Bess: we are mowing the grass real soon now!

  107. [...] Do you want to impress your dear one with beautiful flowers and not spend a dime? Forget flowers.com, try this site out. It sure did the trick for me. The site is amazingly simple to use and the flowers are just gorgeous. By the way, the startup is ran by two ex-Microsoft designers who left the company full of employees who “live in text editors all day long”. [...]