Microsoft and Ript

Gerry spoke at the Microsoft Women’s Conference this week.


I joined her so that we could meet with some key players at Microsoft to talk about Ript™, our WPF application.

Attending were Henry Hahn, WPF Program Manager, Darren Mc Cormick, Worldwide UX Role Owner, and Katherine Westgate, a Marketing Officer from Microsoft’s NY office.

The conversation ranged over the whole history of our project: our Scrum/XP practices, how our team collaborates on user experience, how we created our product vision and our plan to monetize the product.

The three of them were entirely approachable, engaged and enthusiastic. They also came prepared. They’d all downloaded and worked with our application. Henry actually submitted feature suggestions from his team he knows are easy to implement given what we’ve already created.

Katherine helped pull the attendees together and lined up our hands on demo of Surface™. She was interested in figuring how our experiences with Ript™, agile software development and collaborative product ownership might help her enterprise clients. She also asked Gerry how Oxygen approaches advocacy for women, corporate good will and citizenship. Katherine is sharp and conscientious. I could tell Gerry hit it off with her.

Darren described the Developer Platform Evangelists (DPE) programs for joint marketing and developer assistance around products built in WPF and Silverlight. We discussed some of Microsoft’s goals for Silverlight distribution and what Oxygen’s next steps are to engage these resources. Darren is clearly passionate about user experience at the level of product, brand and within an organization. Yet another example of Microsoft going outside its organization to bring in new thinking.

Gerry’s main points were that women are the principle market for consumer technology, that usability testing with women provides valuable insight, how software should playful, purposeful, simple and accessible and how product development should not focus on early adopters but the people who will make up the vast majority of end users should the product be successful.

The conversation also ranged over tech issues. Henry is a fan of our application and left an open door for further communication. He said the .NET team is working on some of our core concerns:

  • breaking up the .NET 3 installer into server and client modules making the package smaller
  • improving the experience of their default install (it plays out like a windows update, hiding itself in the system tray – this is very confusing in an application install process)
  • making it easier for ISV’s to run a silent install and wrap their own UI around the install
  • improving cold start time
  • providing more expressive API’s for automated UI testing

Don’t expect any of this soon unfortunately.

Clearly there are employees at Microsoft in leadership roles determined to engage with and support, not simply consume, innovative work originating outside the company. I had the same impression at the ALT.NET conference earlier this month.

This bodes well for both Microsoft’s future as well as for those of us looking to innovate in the marketplace using their tools and platforms.