Windows 7 interfaces you nearly had

by admin March 23, 2009 at 6:30 pm

From the lava lamp and Aladdin to the Bat Signal and the nub

Back in 2007 the Windows team started working on the look of Windows 7.

Usually Microsoft doesn’t show any of the designs it tried out along the way, but the Windows desktop team revealed several of their early designs and what they learned from them as an example at the recent MIX user experience conference.

One of the themes of the conference was how important it is for designers to sketch out different ideas; Steven Sinofsky used to have a gallery of designs for the Office Assistant on his office wall and the Windows 7 team wasn’t afraid to start with what Senior Use Experience Designer Stephan Hoefnagels called “crazy ideas”: everything from a lava lamp to a flower that opened and closed to inspire the look and feel of Windows.

In all, there were more than 400 sketches of the desktop experience alone, along with animations and visualisations “exploring different ways of laying out different types of user clues”.

The pop-up thumbnails you see in the Windows 7 beta are there to make it easier to find exactly which window you want to switch to, based on repeated requests for clickable thumbnails, says Hoefnagels.

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