Larson-Green: Windows 8 Was Being Planned Before iPad Launch

Following Steven Sinofsky’s dramatic departure from Microsoft amid rumors of personality clashes with other Microsoft executives, Julie Larson-Green become responsible for Windows development.

In her new role as Corporate Vice President, Windows, Larson-Green recently gave an interview to Tom Simonite of MIT Tech Review where she described the philosophy behind the new Windows 8 touch interface and made a passing comparison to the iPad and Windows 8 relative chronologies.

Of the new interface, she said;

Before Windows 8 the goal was to launch into a window, and then you put that window away and you got another one. But with Windows 8, all the different things that you might want to do are there at a glance with the Live Tiles. Instead of having to find many little rocks to look underneath, you see a kind of dashboard of everything that’s going on and everything you care about all at once. It puts you closer to what you’re trying to get done.

That echoes many of the design principles we have heard being discussed by Sinofsky and others over the last year.  My previous piece describes how Live Tiles are actually an innovation that will have a certain diffusion trajectory within the industry.
Her interview clearly reflects the view in Redmond that Live Tiles are a more natural way to interact with computing devices, even desktops.  However, it was her chronology of Windows 8 relative to the iPad that caught my interest even more. Here’s what she said about that;
We started planning Windows 8 in June of 2009, before we shipped Windows 7, and the iPad was only a rumor at that point. I only saw the iPad after we had this design ready to go. We were excited. A lot of things they were doing about mobile and touch were similar to what we’d been thinking. We [also] had differences. We wanted not just static icons on the desktop but Live Tiles to be a dashboard for your life; we wanted you to be able to do things in context and share across apps; we believed that multitasking is important and that people can do two things at one time.
So it seems that there was considerable overlap between planning for Windows 8 and iOS.  The unanswered question is why it would take the better part of 3-and-a-half years for Microsoft to launch Windows 8 if planning began in mid-2009.  The full interview can be found here.
The delay has obviously cost Microsoft dearly, with the iPad now sucking up most of the oxygen in the tablet arena and Android also an established force. This is not a very flattering admission.
What are your thought about this time gap?  Was it just because Windows 8 is a more complex product, with its dual personalities (desktop and touch)?  Share your thoughts in the discussion.

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