How Not To Make Technology Products

In 2004, the co-president of Microsoft’s platform and services division wrote an e-mail to Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer of Microsoft that “I think our teams lost sight of what bug-free means, what resilience means, what full scenarios mean, what security means, what performance means, how important current applications are, and really understanding what the most important problems our customers face are.”

The head of Microsoft’s Windows development James Allchin also wrote to CEO Steve Ballmer and co-founder Bill Gates writing, “I would buy a Mac if I didn’t work for Microsoft.” The email was presented as evidence last week during an Iowa antitrust trial against Microsoft.

Let’s see … stuff to add to “how not to make a technology product” checklist:
Don’t lose sight of what bug-free means.
Remember resilience.

Remember what full scenarios mean — see the “Forest from the Trees?” Yeah right, the idea is not to see how many times the user can click a mouse and answer questions and confirmations. The full scenario is to get stuff done.

Remember security is important. Lack of security is costly … as in “hidden costly,” which ticks people off.

Remember what performance means. Yep, we don’t like staring at a non-functioning computer wondering what it’s doing. We like to be able to leave work to be with family and friends and maybe get a workout in at the gym.

Here are just two of the Human Interface Guidelines that Apple published way back in the 1980’s.

Forgiveness. If you make an error or change your mind, the computer or device can bring you back to the state before the decision and control was performed. A step backward, one-at-a-time (not total start-over), ability is best.

Perceived Stability. When all of the previous rules are implemented and there are no flickering monitors or noisy equipment, perceived stability is the result.

You can see more of these at the bottom of the page at