Monthly Archives: June 2008

Halo 3 “Believe” takes away two Grand Prix Cannes Lions

[flv:halo3integrated.flv 512 368]

The marketing idea needed to be big enough to matter to our broadest group; but feel genuine and authentic to our core. At the center of the Halo universe is a simple story focused on a hero, Master Chief. As his story unfolds through the trilogy, it is full of tales of bravery, duty, sacrifice, friendship, and selflessness. These themes are consistent with the qualities of real heroes and classic storytelling throughout history, they are universal and timeless – they speak to all of us.

On par with a drum-beating gorilla, Microsoft and its advertising agency McCann Worldgroup is sharing the glory by winning not one but two Grand Prix (better than Gold) awards at the prestigious Cannes Lions 2008 international advertising festival for the Halo 3 advertising campaign “Believe”. One was for film, and the other for integrated marketing. Considering the film category had over 4600 entries, this recognition is well deserved. Now we just need a similar campaign for Windows.

UX Taskforce: they’re listening

If you had doubts whether or not it is worthwhile to submit your feedback to the Windows UX Taskforce, then have a read of this comment left by an anonymous Microsoft Windows developer/designer.

… Just know that this website HAS gained attention in the WEX org, bugs are being filed as new suggestions are posted, and many are even being FIXED for beta. I’ve been surprised at how many good, detailed bugs have been found; even features I own had bugs from Vista I wasn’t aware of. Keep submitting posts everyone! Screenshots are really helpful too. There are “real” ways MS takes customer feedback, including newsgroups and MVP forums, but this is one of the few “everyday user” sites I’ve seen that is really simple and straightforward. Great work, Long!

Keep up the votes and good submissions everybody!

Update: Whilst the authenticity of the author is disputable, the message and spirit can be confirmed by several other Microsoft employees.

Are Windows Vista icons facing the wrong way?

I know what you’re thinking, “has it really come down to this”.

No doubts you’ve all seen the “Computer” icon in Windows Vista. Some of you might have even clicked on it and few of you probably have a shortcut on your desktop. But has it ever occurred to you it’s facing the wrong direction – away from you? At least one guy did, and this is just one of the minor details under scrutiny at the Windows UX Taskforce that is particularly fascinating, to me at least.

The problem is, by default, Windows displays icons from left to right. Assuming the user sits in the middle of the monitor, the icons should in fact face right towards you and not the edge of the monitor. The only icon in Vista off the top of my head which does this correctly are the “folders” icon which open up towards the right. This actually conflicts with the official user experience guidelines suggesting the perspective of icons face left.

If this isn’t weird enough, the Windows XP’s icons and even conceptual Vista icons designed by Iconfactory faced the right (pun) way. For some unknown reason, Microsoft designers decided to flip them. FYI: Mac OSX icons face directly at you – probably the best solution.

Of course I understand that this is not a make-or-break issue and probably won’t be addressed in Windows 7 – just flipping the icons won’t actually work since the lighting and symbols on the icons will be different – but this raises an interesting discussion around the “psychology” of design. Could this explain why so many people are turned off by Vista? On the same note, facing left also implies “looking back” as opposed to right – “looking forward”. You get the drift.

In spite of the serious discussion at hand, this comment by “Turge” had me giggling inside. He writes, “My computer is to the right of me, so the icon is facing the right way. Please don’t change this otherwise I’ll have to move my PC.” Can’t argue with that.

Update: Ged from Iconfactory confirms the icons are facing “the wrong way”.

State of the Windows UX Taskforce

The Windows UX Taskforce is now feature complete. In the past 7 days, I’ve implemented all the features I had originally planned (and much more) to facilitate the community Windows user experience feedback site I require for world domination. If you haven’t already checked it out, then head over to

For those who like numbers, here’s some interesting stats from the past 7 days.

  • 18,128 votes casted (average 100 per hour)
  • 449 submissions posted
  • 1,633 comments written
  • 573 registered users
  • 159,000 hits since its launch

The amount of quality submissions received so far is pretty amazing. There’s a few submissions entirely off-topic and the occasional “Save XP” banter, but I must admit I’m really impressed by how much attention to detail some users pay to the Windows user interface. And I thought I was picky. Of course, all of this wouldn’t mean much if none of these are ever addressed by Microsoft.

Speaking of that, I’ve heard some encouraging words from in and around Microsoft that none of this is going by unnoticed. The details are sketchy but apparently people in the Windows Experience group who are responsible for the Windows user experience are well aware of the site and have even browsed through the list of feedback thoroughly. This leads me to the next step.

Ideally, I want Microsoft designers and developers to be a part of the conversation. I’ve already implemented the necessary functionality to allow them to ‘respond’ to the feedback via a status update and explanation (in a very cool AJAX manner I might add). Knowing the situation at Microsoft, this will probably take some effort but I’m going to try to get them involved in some way or form. Until then, keep those submissions coming and know that it isn’t a lost cause. And if you are a Microsoft employee (or Steven Sinofsky), my email is in the profile page.

On a side note, I’ve received tremendous feedback on the PHP application as well. In case you were wondering, I didn’t use any frameworks – all coded from a blank file. I’ve implemented a number of optimizations in the past few days so it should feel a little snappier than it was 7 days ago. I’ve also had a number of requests to deploy the same website/application for other Microsoft softwares and even Mac OSX. All of which are under consideration, but I might need some extra incentives. 😉

P.S. If anyone tells you not to edit code live on a production server, tell them they haven’t lived life on the edge. Having said that, if you’ve edited your profile on the Windows UX Taskforce in the past 12 hours and haven’t been able to login, that would have been my fault. Please proceed to reset your password. 🙂

Windows UX Taskforce (soft-launch)

Windows UX TaskforceI really opened Pandora’s Box last Saturday when I asked the community what Windows user interface quirks they’d like to see fixed or improved in the next version of Windows.

The way I originally imagined it was to go through each of the suggestions by hand and add them to my post along with a pretty screenshot. Needless to say, I got tired about 20 entries in and couldn’t imagine doing 140 more. I had to come up with something more manageable.

With PHP in one hand, MySQL in another and some duct tape in my mouth, I’ve put together a voting-centric community feedback portal over at

It’s not done yet, but it’s at a stage where it’s complete enough for use and I can add functionality (hopefully) without destroying the database. One key functionality missing for now is the ability to edit the entries you’ve submitted, so keep that in mind and double check everything.

I’d like to ask everyone who’s submitted an entry in the blog post resubmit their own entry using their own account so credit is given where credit is deserved. You are free to use the screenshots I’ve already published.

I have an exam in the coming days so I want everyone to start playing with it now and when I get back I should have a nice stack of bugs to iron out. Have fun.

HP HDX “Dragon” notebook giveaway winner

HP DragonYou can stop refreshing the page now. If you’ve been holding your breath for the last couple of hours in anticipation for the drawing of this website’s31 Days of the Dragon” giveaway, seek medical attention immediately. The rest of you read on.

When I set out to design my contest, I opted for something easy and straightforward because we’re all a little lazy. With over three-thousand and seven hundred (3700) entries, I think I can safely say now it was easy enough.

At the same time I also designed the contest in mind of all the Windows Vista user out there who really wasn’t getting enough lovin’, so I’m also proud to say a thousand and eight hundred eighty-four (1,884) of you – just over half of the entries – took advantage of the bonus offer by turning on the Customer Experience Improvement Program in Vista. Hopefully you’ve kept it on.

Before I announce the winner I also want to mention users who have attempted to abuse the system like the one guy who registered using 6 different AOL emails are automatically disqualified. For your information, AOL emails in sequential numbers stand out.

Without a further ado, the winner is Andrew Stockdale ( For your information, I don’t think this is the same Andrew as the leader singer of Wolfmother. If under the rare circumstance it is, I will redraw.

If you didn’t win, you don’t have to resort to violence. There are still a handful of opportunities to win left on some other sites who’s still accepting entires. Good luck.

26 May – 02 Jun
27 May – 03 Jun
28 May – 04 Jun
29 May – 05 Jun
30 May – 06 Jun
31 May – 07 Jun
01 Jun – 08 Jun