Jenny Lam leaves Microsoft (Design)

Update: Looks like Jenny joined a Seattle start-up founded by another ex-Microsoft designer, Hillel Cooperman.

Jenny LamIt’s no longer a secret, since everyone reads Microsoft Typography news. When I first heard about this, I thought this was a bad April Fools prank, but it wasn’t. Jenny Lam, the graphics wonder-girl from MSX (Microsoft Experience/Design) has officially terminated her work on March 31st, 2007.

If you don’t know who Jenny Lam is by now after reading this blog, then you should be ashamed of yourself. She is a graphics designer guru at Microsoft who worked directly on Windows Vista and Windows Live. When Chris Pirillio interviewed her in 2006, she said if she was given a choice to work at Apple or Microsoft, she’s choose Microsoft to have the most impact on the world. And she did.

She helped shape the Windows pearl/orb/button that’s probably right on your screen at the moment. She help design the aurora. She helped design the Vista swoosh. She helped design the icons. She helped design “Segoe UI”. She helped designed the Vista and Office packagings. She even picked the wallpapers. She also worked on branding Windows Live. She’s a brand guru and she’s done so much for Microsoft and millions of users worldwide.

Having met Jenny Lam in person at CES this year, I knew how passionate she was about her work. She’s not the sort of person who just designs for a living because it pays the bills and makes your eyes sore, but she was passionate about what she was doing and really wanted to change the world.

It is unclear why she decided to leave voluntarily, but don’t blame Apple – they didn’t steal her. I have my own theory, perhaps more on that at a later time.

Jenny Lam was ‘the friendly face’ of MSX. It’s a great loss for MSX, a great loss for Microsoft. Jenny, we’ll miss your work, but I’m sure you’ll continue to do amazing work elsewhere! Thanks Jenny! We’re geeks bearing your gifts!.

Now who’s the other Microsoft designers I need to start stalking? :)

31 insightful thoughts

  1. did i read that right… “stalking”???? i know Jenny is great, but u need to stalk to find info of her?

    just doesn’t sound right…

  2. thanks that was the quickest reply i’ve ever got! well… make sure to post info on what she does after she quits MS

    cheers

  3. Nice post but there are a few grammatical errors. I know you enjoy it when I point them out:

    > “She help designed the aurora. She help designed the Vista swoosh. She help designed the icons. She help designed “Segoe UI”. She help designed the Vista and Office packagings.”

    It should read:

    > “She HELPED DESIGN the aurora. She HELPED DESIGN the Vista swoosh. She HELPED DESIGN the icons. She HELPED DESIGN “Segoe UI”. She HELPED DESIGN the Vista and Office packagings.

    Love,
    Loyal Reader.

  4. its a very sad time to see a face of microsoft (and a very nice face) leave the company. i would be interesting to see where she goes now.

  5. Sorry to be the bad guy, but there are really some quality issues with Segoe UI and Vista’s icons/UI in general. This does not mean that it was her fault. But maybe this is why she leaves MS? Because I really like the aurora and glass methaphors in Vista and because she seems to be a Frutiger fan too ;-P, it’s a shame to let her go.

    I hope to read about your theory, Long!

  6. I’m glad Jenny’s gone. Aurora was pig ugly. The Vista swoosh is even worse. The icons are.. Meh – not that great and a bit too gaudy. Segoe and the Vista and Office packaging is the only really good work she did.

    Happy to see her go, if Vista was the pinnacle of her skills then it a good thing she’s gone. I have a feeling she was “pushed” and didn’t just leave of her own accord.

  7. No, she wasn’t pushed. She was wished well in a heartfelt evening by other fans and adherents of her caring design philosophy.

    It’s sad that someone could say something like that about such a decent human being.

  8. @Matt: No, its not that simple. But in Europe, Segoe UI can not be copyrighted by MS because it is too similar to Frutiger Next. But one could also see some small advantages the MS team has made.

    What’s really funny: Adobe also ‘copied’ the Frutiger by creating Myriad, Apple ‘copied’ Myriad by creating the Podium Sans. And that font it used on every iPod. So Vista and iPods uses the ‘same’ system font.

    All hail Adrian Frutiger! ;)

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  10. Like an old JV jacket, there’s something ungainly and ill-fitting about that Vista swoosh. You look away, but a gleaming spasm summons the eyes to take in all its gracelessnesses.

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