What do you think of Microsoft Surface

30 May 2007 - 6:53am
4 years ago
56 replies
3064 reads
Håkan Reis
2006

http://www.microsoft.com/surface/

I find there are quite a few interesting concepts here, especially the
interaction with "real" objects. The clips in the third video is the most
interesting:
- Placing a camera on top of the desk and move images to you portable
player.
- Browsing your media files and drop them on the media player.
- Pay for things by dropping the items on the physical credit cards.

/ Håkan

--
Håkan Reis
Dotway AB

Phone: +46 (768) 51 00 33

http://blog.reis.se

Comments

31 May 2007 - 3:25pm
Will Parker
2007

On May 31, 2007, at 12:12 PM, pauric wrote:

> "we're supposed to be the poster-children of abductive thinking"
>
> With all due respect, we're supposed to apply a little real world
> context to marketing hyperbole and engineering out design.

<snip>

> When are people supposed to ask questions about re-purposing a table,
> security? Whats the business case for a device thats only going to be
> found the executive lounge of the airport/hotel?
>
> There's nothing wrong with getting excited about this but there are
> valid questions about context of use and it's exactly our job to ask
> them.

Back when I worked at Microsoft, we had a practice of flying in MVPs
('Most Valuable Partners') moderately late in the development process
to give them full access to the upcoming product and the PMs, devs
and other people bringing the product to life. The MVPs were
individuals who were acknowledged masters of the product, well-
respected in the user community.

We would show them the product, let them beat on it with whatever
sticks they wanted to use, and complain as loudly and profanely as
they liked about what we left out or failed to fix.

We had two hard and fast rules from our Group Manager about MVP days,
and since he was a former tank commander, you'd better believe he
expected us to follow them religiously.

-----------------------
1) Never contradict the MVP. Make sure you know precisely what he's
complaining about, and what he thinks would be a good solution. If he
missed some important point, find out why. We are here to learn. The
MVPs are the teachers.

2) Every _individual_ MVP complaint, concern or suggestion WILL be
written up as a detailed entry in the bug database BY END OF DAY.
Every MVP bug will receive the same attention and regard as a bug
written by the chief design PM, and will live or die on its own
merits. Each MVP will be kept appraised of the progress of 'their'
bugs and will be given chances for further comment.
-----------------------

Microsoft Surface looks like a very promising version 1.0 product,
but judging _just_ from the marketing demos (as we must at the
moment), there are some moderately serious gaps, relative to _real-
world_ usage, in the use cases presented. And yet, the defining
product for an entirely new platform is slated to ship within the
next 6 months.

I submit that it is time (and possibly well past time) for Microsoft
to start gathering MVP opinion, following the two rules cited above.
Given the challenges and opportunities of a new multi-touch platform,
I further submit that we here on this list constitute one well-
qualified group of MVPs.

Merely applauding the impending launch may provide (well-deserved)
gratification for the Surface team, but doing so provides little
usable information. Telling critics to ignore current shortcomings is
one way to further reduce the flow of potentially useful information.
This risks stunting the product. Applause is nice, but bad reviews --
if honestly given -- help you learn.

As an aside, I work for a large advertising company. It is obvious
that Microsoft Surface devices will play a large role in kiosk
advertising at the very least, so despite my misgivings about what
I've seen (or rather, not seen) in the current demos, I have already
recommended that we get a Surface machine ASAP.

- Will

Will Parker
wparker at ChannelingDesign.com

“I wish developing great products was as easy as writing a check. If
that were the case, then Microsoft would have great products.” -
Steve Jobs

31 May 2007 - 3:30pm
.pauric
2006

Points taken, mostly agreed with too! However I do not see many us
designing for a multi-touch interactive 48" rear projection display
any time soon, and not because of lack of technological progress, its
a given this will become more available.

For me, the reactable hits the crux of the issue in the doodahs.
This is niche application stuff. Thinking a little out of the box I
see

-MS project on steroids
-Process management in a manufacturing plant
-Presentation of product, specifically architecture.
-Creative solutions akin to the wacom cintiq

However, all of these still need traditional interaction to do the
main workload.

Yes we need to think about this, new stuff is coming down the pipe as
you say but do not foresee a paradigm shift in our bread & butter work
- constrained by mice & keyboards.

"to showcase new technologies to people in positions of influence,
in hopes that someone will see opportunities to innovate upon it."

Hope is invariably the product of people in need. Vision is more
effective on people in influence.

I've a gut feeling this is still currently technology looking for a
solution with no killer app in sight.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://beta.ixda.org/discuss?post=16728

31 May 2007 - 4:43pm
Chris Bernard
2007

The MVP process certainly has its place but as you've also illustrated Will it has its shortcomings too. The roots of the process you've described are the squeaky wheel getting the oil. The MVP process is what helped Microsoft in its race to feature bloat with products like Office 2003 and numerous others and was simply Microsoft extending its heritage in designing with the loudest voice in mind.

See here and here for some context on what Office 2003 became (although I suspect we are all familiar with this story)

Here's a Webcast that talks about the feature bloat of Office 2007
http://download.microsoft.com/download/1/f/f/1fff960f-51a2-44b1-b033-bf25a3c7c7ab/BRE001.wmv

Here's a blog from Jensen Harris, Product Manager of Office 2007 team.
http://blogs.msdn.com/jensenh/

I'll be contrarian here and suggest that if you really did these two following things you may have often done a disservice to the products and services your group worked on.

"1) Never contradict the MVP. Make sure you know precisely what he's
complaining about, and what he thinks would be a good solution. If he
missed some important point, find out why. We are here to learn. The
MVPs are the teachers."

MVPs are also a political animal and have agendas that can conflict with the needs of the business and users.

"2) Every _individual_ MVP complaint, concern or suggestion WILL be
written up as a detailed entry in the bug database BY END OF DAY.
Every MVP bug will receive the same attention and regard as a bug
written by the chief design PM, and will live or die on its own
merits. Each MVP will be kept appraised of the progress of 'their'
bugs and will be given chances for further comment."

Some 'bugs' were simply feature requests because a tool or product didn't do what an individual wanted. Taking this stuff at face value without other context or validation is simply a poor way to design.

Now leveraging the MVP process in conjunction with good IxD principals and other sensing programs certainly has merit but I quite frankly can't think of a worse idea than opening ideas like the iPhone or Surface to this board. If that had been done I doubt either would have ever gotten off the ground.

What I see on this board quite often is a rush to turn assumptions based on incomplete information into facts with which we summarily judge our peers competence with. That's not a dialog or a discourse and who would want to be on the receiving end of it. I suspect folks will simply find other more constructive forums to have those conversations.

Chris Bernard
Microsoft
User Experience Evangelist
chris.bernard at microsoft.com
312.925.4095

Blog: www.designthinkingdigest.com
Design: www.microsoft.com/design
Tools: www.microsoft.com/expression

"The future is already here. It's just not evenly distributed." William Gibson

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Will Parker
Sent: Thursday, May 31, 2007 3:25 PM
To: pauric
Cc: discuss at lists.interactiondesigners.com
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] What do you think of Microsoft Surface

On May 31, 2007, at 12:12 PM, pauric wrote:

> "we're supposed to be the poster-children of abductive thinking"
>
> With all due respect, we're supposed to apply a little real world
> context to marketing hyperbole and engineering out design.

<snip>

> When are people supposed to ask questions about re-purposing a table,
> security? Whats the business case for a device thats only going to be
> found the executive lounge of the airport/hotel?
>
> There's nothing wrong with getting excited about this but there are
> valid questions about context of use and it's exactly our job to ask
> them.

Back when I worked at Microsoft, we had a practice of flying in MVPs
('Most Valuable Partners') moderately late in the development process
to give them full access to the upcoming product and the PMs, devs
and other people bringing the product to life. The MVPs were
individuals who were acknowledged masters of the product, well-
respected in the user community.

We would show them the product, let them beat on it with whatever
sticks they wanted to use, and complain as loudly and profanely as
they liked about what we left out or failed to fix.

We had two hard and fast rules from our Group Manager about MVP days,
and since he was a former tank commander, you'd better believe he
expected us to follow them religiously.

-----------------------
1) Never contradict the MVP. Make sure you know precisely what he's
complaining about, and what he thinks would be a good solution. If he
missed some important point, find out why. We are here to learn. The
MVPs are the teachers.

2) Every _individual_ MVP complaint, concern or suggestion WILL be
written up as a detailed entry in the bug database BY END OF DAY.
Every MVP bug will receive the same attention and regard as a bug
written by the chief design PM, and will live or die on its own
merits. Each MVP will be kept appraised of the progress of 'their'
bugs and will be given chances for further comment.
-----------------------

Microsoft Surface looks like a very promising version 1.0 product,
but judging _just_ from the marketing demos (as we must at the
moment), there are some moderately serious gaps, relative to _real-
world_ usage, in the use cases presented. And yet, the defining
product for an entirely new platform is slated to ship within the
next 6 months.

I submit that it is time (and possibly well past time) for Microsoft
to start gathering MVP opinion, following the two rules cited above.
Given the challenges and opportunities of a new multi-touch platform,
I further submit that we here on this list constitute one well-
qualified group of MVPs.

Merely applauding the impending launch may provide (well-deserved)
gratification for the Surface team, but doing so provides little
usable information. Telling critics to ignore current shortcomings is
one way to further reduce the flow of potentially useful information.
This risks stunting the product. Applause is nice, but bad reviews --
if honestly given -- help you learn.

As an aside, I work for a large advertising company. It is obvious
that Microsoft Surface devices will play a large role in kiosk
advertising at the very least, so despite my misgivings about what
I've seen (or rather, not seen) in the current demos, I have already
recommended that we get a Surface machine ASAP.

- Will

Will Parker
wparker at ChannelingDesign.com

"I wish developing great products was as easy as writing a check. If
that were the case, then Microsoft would have great products." -
Steve Jobs

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31 May 2007 - 5:30pm
Will Parker
2007

On May 31, 2007, at 2:43 PM, Chris Bernard wrote:

> The MVP process certainly has its place but as you've also
> illustrated Will it has its shortcomings too. The roots of the
> process you've described are the squeaky wheel getting the oil. The
> MVP process is what helped Microsoft in its race to feature bloat
> with products like Office 2003 and numerous others and was simply
> Microsoft extending its heritage in designing with the loudest
> voice in mind.

Well, now you do have me pegged. Alumni of the Mac Office team.

> <Snipping the otherwise quite useful links for the moment, and
> thanks for those>

> I'll be contrarian here and suggest that if you really did these
> two following things you may have often done a disservice to the
> products and services your group worked on.
>
> "1) Never contradict the MVP. Make sure you know precisely what he's
> complaining about, and what he thinks would be a good solution. If he
> missed some important point, find out why. We are here to learn. The
> MVPs are the teachers."
>
> MVPs are also a political animal and have agendas that can conflict
> with the needs of the business and users.

All primates are political animals. Built into the motherboard, and
no way to disable it, worse luck.

Our particular MVPs for Mac Office _usually_ weren't there as
representatives of their companies, but as members of particular user
communities. That's the kind of political representation we welcomed.

> "2) Every _individual_ MVP complaint, concern or suggestion WILL be
> written up as a detailed entry in the bug database BY END OF DAY.
> Every MVP bug will receive the same attention and regard as a bug
> written by the chief design PM, and will live or die on its own
> merits. Each MVP will be kept appraised of the progress of 'their'
> bugs and will be given chances for further comment."
>
> Some 'bugs' were simply feature requests because a tool or product
> didn't do what an individual wanted. Taking this stuff at face
> value without other context or validation is simply a poor way to
> design.

Yes, and that's why we were supposed to treat them with the same
respect as every other bug. Determine the root cause, figure out
whether it was financially/logistically/practically worth fixing in
the context of where we wanted to go, and do the triage tango.
Feature bloat doesn't come from accepting external input -- it comes
from using Yes, Fix as your default answer during triage.

I'm not calling for the Surface team to adopt the American Idol
design model. All I'm saying is that criticism -- even of a product
that hasn't shipped yet -- should be considered _potentially_ valid.

> Now leveraging the MVP process in conjunction with good IxD
> principals and other sensing programs certainly has merit but I
> quite frankly can't think of a worse idea than opening ideas like
> the iPhone or Surface to this board. If that had been done I doubt
> either would have ever gotten off the ground.

Depends on the ability of PM staff to say 'HELL No' often enough, in
my opinion, but perhaps not yours.

> What I see on this board quite often is a rush to turn assumptions
> based on incomplete information into facts with which we summarily
> judge our peers competence with.

OK, valid point. Nothing's available but marketing demos at the
moment. Could you (specifically - you, generally - the Surface team)
_please_ do what you can to pass along more technical material on the
Surface platform as soon as you can. It would be very nice to see
some Surface PMs posting on blogs.msdn.com in the near future, for
example.

Whether we criticize Surface or not, I think all of us here are
anxious to see multi-touch systems succeed.

- Will

Will Parker
wparker at ChannelingDesign.com

“I wish developing great products was as easy as writing a check. If
that were the case, then Microsoft would have great products.” -
Steve Jobs

31 May 2007 - 8:46pm
Trip O'Dell
2007

For those of you looking for a peek at Surface under the hood ,
there's a Q&A at Ars Technica:
http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070530-what-lurks-below-
microsofts-surface-a-qa-with-microsoft.html

This is pretty similar to some projects I've done in museums. Its
definitely a more advanced implementation. My experience has been
that camera occlusion and infrared can be powerful interaction
methods if you can control issues like ambient lighting, hiding the
cameras etc.

Unfortunately, there is one pretty significant drawback to the
Surface implementation, you can't put it on a wall unless you have
some sort of rear projection setup. You can put cameras in front of
the screen, but you loose the current precision of the system because
the entire hand (or user) obscures the camera as opposed to just
fingertips.

That being said, I can see many different applications where an
interaction like this would be appropriate. Because the system is
using reflected light for tracking, object awareness and orientation
is simply a matter of implementing an optical character recognition
system and some reflective tape.

Trip O'Dell
Interaction Designer
www.tripodell.com
------------------------------
"Specialization is for insects..."
-Robert A. Heinlein

20 Jun 2007 - 7:22am
itst
2007

> Mitsubishi (MERL in Boston) has a (top projected) table product [...]

Just found this video: http://youtube.com/watch?v=hOg_tGIsYGs

It is a demonstration of the table Trip mentioned. In the demo, the table is
used to play Warcraft III ;)

BTW, this video was posted in August 2006, maybe it's even older.

--
Sascha

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