Learning by Shipping

products, development, management…

Welcome to “Learning by Shipping”

with 164 comments

Welcome to the Learning by Shipping blog—thoughts and perspectives on product development, management, and the process of bringing new products to market.

This blog is a continuation of writing on these topics through several different blogs, some internet and some intranet.  For me, blogging started in the summer of 2005 with Techtalk, a blog focused on the college hiring process at Microsoft.  When I changed jobs and moved to Windows, there were many questions inside Microsoft about how we would do things (in what was often referred to as a post-Vista recovery), but not just with Windows but with Windows Services (called Windows Live back then), Internet Explorer, and even Search (not yet Bing) which was part of our team for a while.  The size of the team and the pace we needed to change required a different approach to communication.  The Office Hours intranet blog was started in an effort modernize the communication channels.

Office Hours was a blog that discussed the challenges and choices in creating and managing large scale products and services.  It was a candid view of what was going on in real-time and was read by many across teams inside of Microsoft.  There were hundreds of posts (roughly weekly), some of which can be found in various places on the internet, unintentionally, and some of which can be found, intentionally, in a book co-authored with Marco Iansiti at Harvard Business School.  The posts tried to take on the topics of building complex products used by many types of customers, by a team made up of diverse skills, in a company made up of a lot of people and a lot of other products.

Along the way, there were several product-focused blogs that influenced this style and approach.  We wrote about Office 2007 through a number of folks on the team.  With Windows 7 and Windows 8 the team and I blogged quite a bit, and often at great length :-), about the design choices, implementation, and features of those products.

Learning by Shipping picks up where these blogs leave off.  The title comes from something impressed upon me early in my career, which is that learning as an engineer comes from the process of starting, then finishing, and iterating on products–getting products to market and putting the broad feedback loop to work.  The teams and processes used to create products are critically important and fun to talk about relative to shipping and learning as we search for the best approaches to use at a given time.

The most fascinating aspect, for me, of technology product development is the intersection of engineering and social science.  As engineers we are trained to find the right solution(s) given a set of constraints.  Product development is about the inherent uncertainty of business and customer needs and desires, and those change depending on the context.  There are no right answers, only varying success in the marketplace at a given time.  The pendulum of ideas swings back and forth depending on the context–the availability of underlying technologies, the acceptance of different business models, or the solutions most valued by potential customers.  The same holds for approaches used by organizations building products–the right answer depends on the context and can change over time.  These choices and the pros and cons of different approaches are interesting topics that occupy many of us as we search for the right path for our development efforts.

The focus on this blog won’t be about specifics or the past regarding Microsoft, of course.  Some topics might come from current events as the basis of more general posts. In previous blogs, most all of the topics came about through interactions across the team.  In this new blog, I am hopeful that there can be a rich dialog about the “how” and “why” of building products in our industry and that serves as springboard for posts.

I’m not sure yet how often I will post–this is a bit of an experiment.  I will work to keep posts free of snark and ad hoc criticisms in hopes that the comments and back and forth will be the same.  Comments are not moderated and only the hosting site’s spam filtering is in use.  As a reminder, I will make mistakes in this blog in both form (typos) and substance (facts) and will take responsibility for those when called out.

I’m super excited to see how this experiment goes.

Please feel free to subscribe to the feed on the sidebar or follow on twitter for alerts on posts.

Steven Sinofsky
steven@learningbyshipping.com, @stevesi


Written by Steven Sinofsky

January 3, 2013 at 9:00 am

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    Would you pay for a 2013 car that is more fuel efficient, quieter, safer…etc… and then decide to leave with a 2010 model from the dealership with less options?

    Here are the reasons why I used Windows 8 over Windows 7:
    1. Hyper-V
    2. Better multi-monitor setup
    3. Power management better than Win7
    4. Full Direct2D GPU accelerated graphics
    5. Faster boot even when you disable that fake hibernate mode that passes for a ‘shutdown’.
    6. More secure than Win7

    Anyways, here is hope http://hexus.net/tech/news/software/54153-code-leaked-windows-81-reveals-boot-desktop-option/

    The start menu may be back soon but I’ll still need something extra to disable the hot-corners and the charm bar.


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  27. Thank you Noah.

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    February 3, 2013 at 1:39 pm

  28. Hi Steven: Just saw that you’re blogging again and am really happy you’re doing this. Loved reading your intranet and Internet posts and look forward to learning more!

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    February 3, 2013 at 1:09 pm

  29. Sure, when you tell me why you are Anonymous.


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  31. The only options for wordpress comments are to enable/disable threads and to set the chronological order for posts. This is hosted by WP and so I don’t have access to plugins. Sorry about that.

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    January 14, 2013 at 11:27 pm

  32. Hi Steven, this is George Snelling. I read with great interest your posts. I wish the comments were better organized. Thanks.



    January 14, 2013 at 8:44 pm

  33. After of the presentation of W8 and #Surface I become more interested on Microsoft. Honestly I was kind of mad after your exit from the company. I follow you on twitter because I did a research about you and I found out how smart you are. I look forward to read more about you. By the way maybe you won’t read any of my messages ever but if you do sorry for my grammar, English is my second language :(


    January 14, 2013 at 12:15 am

  34. Amen to RK, but also kudos to SteveSi. I don’t agree with what was done to Windows with 8, but I’m impressed to see that you’re reading the comments and responding. Thank you for doing that; I respect that a lot.

    You obviously have put a lot of thought into your positions so I can’t fault you for that even if I don’t agree with some of them. I’m interested to read more of your thoughts on this blog.

    Take care!


    January 7, 2013 at 3:17 pm

  35. Worse … you mean … like the latest Gnome desktop? Since the first Metro news came out I suspected that’s what inspired W8.

    Or maybe you mean chairs hurled at you across the room at work?

    Anonymous Coward

    January 7, 2013 at 2:27 pm

  36. Steven,


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    January 7, 2013 at 12:42 pm

  37. Reblogged this on TNVBalaji.com and commented:
    Nice Read ….

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    January 7, 2013 at 9:10 am

  38. Microsoft I am afraid has not learned the lesson of classic Coke. How many client/server LOB systems does Windows 8 leave in the lurch? How much investment by customers in Silverlight applications is being flushed down the drain in the name of consumer flash-in-the-pan, fad products?

    Bill G

    January 7, 2013 at 8:13 am

  39. Thanks Sir for your presence on web via your blogs.I’ll look forward for your next blogs.


    January 7, 2013 at 7:20 am

  40. I hope Steven doesn’t go completely non-technical either. I loved reading about Windows 7 & 8 design decisions, and enhancements, on his Microsoft B8 blog.

  41. Perhaps Mr. Sinofsky wants to refocus this blog to “lessons learned” but the reality is that the posters are never going to let him move beyond Windows 8. My dilemma is that Microsoft needed Mr. Sinofsky and it saddened me that someone with vision to buck the system was pushed out. He was pushed out because too many people still like the beige box experience. Whether we like Windows 8 or 7 the lesson learned here is that if you are a visionary then go for your vision. The lesson is the journey and not the destination.


    January 7, 2013 at 7:00 am

  42. I love Windows 8. I’ve been using it for several months now, and it’s incredible how smoothly Microsoft bridged the traditional desktop and the new, Modern interface!

    Performance of the new OS is also top-notch, especially with a SSD! Everything is fast and fluid!

    GREAT JOB Microsoft!!

  43. Sorry that the text I copied didn’t get picked up in my original “Reply”. Apparently, old-fashioned angle brackets aren’t allowed here…
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  44. <>
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    January 7, 2013 at 6:11 am

  45. After 25 years building software, I see the business degrading into a Tayloristic production line of mediocrity, especially through the use of in-house SCRUM and outsourcing. If you are building throw away consumer toys it might be a good strategy. But the long term future of LOB application will be destroyed by this short term micro management. The car industry got into this nose dive in the 70s, and only a few survived.

    What are you thought on this parallel?
    How can we avoid the same fate?


    January 7, 2013 at 1:54 am

  46. And you’re running 8 instead of 7 because…?


    January 7, 2013 at 1:05 am

  47. I think many who are commenting here must have missed this statement in the introductory article.

    “The focus on this blog won’t be about specifics or the past regarding Microsoft, of course.”

    Let’s not dwell on the past and instead learn something new.


    January 6, 2013 at 8:35 pm

  48. OM=Meditation/Peace.


    January 6, 2013 at 6:15 am

  49. Why am I here? I am not discussing the tablet ‘success’, I think Metro is well suited for touch display, eventhough it is incomplete and broken in many places (beta anyone?).

    Stephen made a point about “solutions most valued by potential customers” and I just wanted to make a point that Windows 8 did not follow that in the most obvious of places.

    As a customer/user I cannot ignore the facts that:
    – the Start Menu is gone and it made more sense to me, and million of others to use.
    – the Metro start menu for Apps and Programs is a mess.
    – the hot corners are a freaking annoyance when working in desktop, that charm bar is a disaster there.

    Nothing was broken in the first place but MS chose to replace it with the Metro Start screen which requires more key combinations to use, it switches UI context/design, and you lose view of your current work.

    Pressing the Windows key is not the solution to my problems.
    To ‘fix’ my problems I have to pay another $5 to get an experience that is 99% identical to Win7, or not pay and get a free solution that is crippled compared to what Win7 offered.
    As a paying customer I do not want to have to face these problems.

    I’m glad if you can be productive with Metro apps, but Metro Apps are stuck on one screen, even when you have multiple monitors.

    Most apps that exist in Metro and Desktop are dumbed down in Metro and as a ‘productive’ user myself, no Metro app allows me to keep my level of productivity at work or at home. I work in the Desktop environment 5 days a week, writing and shipping software for the past 15 years.

    The question is are you more productive with the Metro apps than you were with the desktop programs? Certain category of user may be, other certainly will not. Are you more productive using the Metro Start screen than the Desktop Start Menu?

    Here is a interesting document about usability when changing design. Read the “Separate UI for Beginners” it is very illuminating.

    My point: I do not want any Metro UX/UI to show up ever in the Dektop context (and vice-versa) unless I request it. Millions must feel the same.

    Yes I have ‘easily’ fixed these problems thanks to the work of others on the web but I expected the solution (customization) to be part of the product I paid for.

    Allowing users/customers to be in control is the solution that is most valued.

    This is what I wanted to communicate to Stephen, and his audience, and get a change for him to read this as it was his first post I’d expect him to read most of the comments.

    And I’m secretly still hoping that the first Win8 service pack will enable back Start Menu and give users a choice about Metro/Desktop.


    January 6, 2013 at 4:00 am

  50. Steven,

    What do you think of the Open Source development process in contrast to the “learning by shipping” experience you had at Microsoft? I’ve always compared this difference to the economics of centrally planned economies versus the capitalistic efficient markets. Microsoft follows a central planning model of development that is inefficient and where the cost of small errors is very high. In contrast, tiny poorly funded volunteer communities such as Debian can ship incredibly sophisticated systems that appeal to a wide audience and do so with ultra-efficiency and low cost. Don’t you think the future approach that software developers should begin using is a hybrid proprietary and open source system where there is community engagement? If Microsoft made Windows open source do you think the results of development would be far more effective and less error prone?


    January 5, 2013 at 10:03 pm

  51. thanks Steven – will check the book out


    January 5, 2013 at 7:51 pm

  52. So this isn’t “Learning by looking at Apples”?


    January 5, 2013 at 4:24 pm

  53. Fail fast. Read Lean Startup by Eric Reis


    January 5, 2013 at 3:33 pm

  54. I’m very interested to read more of this Learning by Shipping concept from your experiences. As an engineer the only constant throughout my career is Change and and by exploring many different aspects of doing things we can only hope to achieve the best for our customers – the users.
    Choice and Innovation are more often than not on the opposing ends with their repelling force fuelled by budget. We can’t have everyone happy on the same page as well. So I’m looking forward to reading many great blog entries and even books (pls make it available in Ebook format as well) from you and your experiences and how you resolved (or would resolve) these software engineering conflicts and your rationale around these decisions.

    Min Lin

    January 5, 2013 at 2:48 pm

  55. I’d like to echo Kevin’s previous comment – I’d be very interested in your thoughts on SCRUM. Over the last few years, the company I work for (which is now owned by MS) bit this particular bullet so I’m curious to get your perspective on how this fits into your view of the bigger picture.


    January 5, 2013 at 8:44 am

  56. Could this be the basic reason that the large comm companies are seeking legislative restrictions on communities developing their own networks? They put so much time and money into their antiquated business model that they can’t change without losing a ton of money? Why should the inflexible mindset of a few people become the problem of the rest of us? Of course, it would be nice to figure out just what the geniuses in the legislatures of the states and the fed think they will get out of it for themselves. Oh, right, continued opportunity to occupy the seat they have worn down for so long. You guys stand to lose big time if you can’t come up with a way to convince the rest of us to stop voting for these people. We need flexibility and innovation to be recognized by the general population to be the only way we can succeed in adequately responding to all the wonderful new physical developments happening on the planet.


    January 5, 2013 at 8:25 am

  57. Steve looking forward to reading your blog. Thank you for your insight. And to all the cry babies talking down Windows 8, its a huge leap forward compared to Windows 7.


    January 5, 2013 at 7:54 am

  58. Maybe learning by failing is the most expensive way ever, but in many ways there is no choice. In practice, engineers are folks that need to learn from having what they make actually used. If you’re interested in the topic, a really fantastic book (and one of my all-time favorites) is “To Engineer is Human: the role of failure in successful design” by Henry Petroski. Awesome book. http://www.amazon.com/To-Engineer-Is-Human-Successful/dp/0679734163. So much comes from understanding failure. Shipping isn’t failure. It might have some failures but it is the only way to learn.

    Steven Sinofsky

    January 5, 2013 at 7:33 am

  59. RC? Really, such a good choice of name, but tell us, you little impostor, what does it stand for?


    January 5, 2013 at 5:01 am

  60. “Learning by shipping” must be the most expensive way of learning ever.


    January 5, 2013 at 2:48 am

  61. You’re an asshole my friend.


    January 5, 2013 at 1:22 am

  62. The damn thing often freezes my machine! Vs 2012 regressed on stability. Maybe they’ll fix it in a sp.


    January 5, 2013 at 12:47 am

  63. I am a fan of your writing in MS, Steven. I am looking forward to your blog though I am mildly confused about the sustenance of the topics you are planning to post. I hope you don’t completely go the academic / theoretical way!


    January 5, 2013 at 12:15 am

  64. Welcome on-board Steven! Blogging is really fun when you have some extra-ordinary stuff to share with the web. Hoping to learn a lot from your vast experience..

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    January 4, 2013 at 11:34 pm

  65. Hi Steve, Thanks for the classy way you talk about MSFT! I’m glad you took the high road and saw the big picture. That’s awesome that you’ll be teaching Harvard next year! Too bad I can’t get in. But nonetheless good luck!!!


    January 4, 2013 at 10:08 pm

  66. Looking forward!!!


    January 4, 2013 at 8:48 pm

  67. I’d love to see an entry covering the difference in operational and organizational designs for a V1 product versus an N to N+1 release. How do you balance “ship and learn” with “we need enough meat to be worthy of feedback”. How do you balance “infrastructure and fundamentals” with “innovation and delivery”? Etc.

    Agile and particularly SCRUM are all the rage in some circles, I’m especially curious as to people’s thoughts on how you combine Agile and V1/Innovation. Again, operationally and organizationally.


    January 4, 2013 at 8:47 pm

  68. Whats with the OM logo Steve? :-)

    Anirudh B

    January 4, 2013 at 7:57 pm

  69. Then why are you here? Do you think complaining about it will change anything? Why you even bothered confuses me, if you want to rage, go ahead, but its clear you know so little. The thing is you act like its a huge problem that takes minutes to solve, HELLO just press the windows key to go to the desktop, seriously are you THAT inept? Are you that fucking stupid to complain about something that you can just ignore, if you didn’t notice, the success of windows 8 on tablets depends on apps, so OF COURSE they push the whole thing in your face, but as a productive user (unlike yourself) I take advantage of apps and it saves me time, its of great use for me, and I use a desktop with non-touch controls, if you have problems with the modern UI, you have to be mentally handicapped, because its so easy but idiots like you don’t get it.


    January 4, 2013 at 7:48 pm

  70. Look forward to reading the blog, and good luck to you!

    Louis Giliberto

    January 4, 2013 at 5:23 pm

  71. Can’t wait for new posts!!!

    Jason (@PhatBarnett)

    January 4, 2013 at 4:54 pm

  72. Good luck Steven.


    January 4, 2013 at 4:38 pm

  73. You are grand! May God strengthens you. With love from Nigeria.

    Olatunji Owolabi

    January 4, 2013 at 4:31 pm

  74. As usual, anything interesting or insightful that you have to say is completely obscured by your writing style. If you have something interesting to say, then just say it. It won’t require 10 paragraphs of preamble that’s boring and irrelevant to anybody outside of Microsoft (and most people within Microsoft).


    January 4, 2013 at 4:09 pm

  75. Thanks for taking the time to write this, I look forward to reading future posts.

    Cameron Charles

    January 4, 2013 at 4:06 pm

  76. Learning by Shipping is the only way to learn, business school only helps you glad hand.


    January 4, 2013 at 4:05 pm

  77. “…or the solutions most valued by potential customers.” … Seriously?!!

    Removing the Desktop Start Menu with no option to add it back and booting straight into ‘Metro’ with no option to change it back to the Desktop are not the solutions most valued by actual Windows 8 customers.

    ‘Metro’ on Surface is barely acceptable, but that’s OK I mostly browser the web that’s it.

    But the Windows 8 experience on desktop machines has been totally screwed up.

    Why oh why do I have to pay and extra $5 to get a third-party Start Menu or get a free but incomplete version (ClassicShell) for something that has been part of Windows since NT4/Win95. The Vista version of it with the Search bar was great, and the improvements in Win7 (pin + recent actions) was even better.

    Every change to the task bar/start menu over the years had options to allow users to customize them as they saw fit and even revert to the previous UX, even the QuickLaunch bar can be enabled back, even in Win8!!!

    So WTF!!! The solutions you chose in these 2 instances are not the most valued by the potential customers. They were the most valued by MS.

    You decided to cut the Start Menu because it just highlights the fact the the Metro Start screen is just a mess of titles with no structure. It is less efficient to use than the desktop start menu. Plus it’s not even functional, I dare to try to place a title exactly where you want it in any of the clusters. The automatic re-organization does not allow you to do what you want.

    You decided to cut the Start Menu to FORCE users to use the Metro Start Menu with the hope that they will use the Metro apps.

    Guess what? On a desktop, especially a business desktop it’s not what users want.

    There is nothing I want to read from this blog in the future.


    January 4, 2013 at 3:29 pm

  78. Seems like folks don’t like the Journalist theme fonts — what’s the custom css (in the wp ux) to use a more routine serif and sans serif font family?

    Steven Sinofsky

    January 4, 2013 at 3:26 pm

  79. Removed sld. Dealing with hosting stuff so please be patient. There is just the staff of 1.

    Steven Sinofsky

    January 4, 2013 at 3:25 pm

  80. Thanks for the comments on editing–I’m sure there are many places even in this post where things can be improved. I will endeavor to do more good at what are posted. My goal is to be genuine, first party, and timely with a reasonable investment in time and effort.

    Steven Sinofsky

    January 4, 2013 at 3:25 pm

  81. Feel free to post. These specifics aren’t the focus of this blog.

    Steven Sinofsky

    January 4, 2013 at 3:21 pm

  82. Thanks. It seems all the theme fonts are a bit weak in this regard. I will add CSS at some point. The blog is hosted on wp so I am not looking at or tweaking the template directly. thanks.

    Steven Sinofsky

    January 4, 2013 at 3:20 pm

  83. Amen!


    January 4, 2013 at 3:06 pm

  84. Looking forward to it.


    January 4, 2013 at 3:05 pm

  85. Good luck Steven.


    January 4, 2013 at 2:45 pm

  86. Curious on how this blog will remain current on learning by shipping, unless you plan to be shipping something?


    January 4, 2013 at 2:34 pm

  87. Whats with the OM Steve?


    January 4, 2013 at 2:07 pm

  88. Of course you’d post as anonymous. What a terribly immature post.

    Stephen Adams

    January 4, 2013 at 1:53 pm

  89. ive just found out about your blog, surely will be subscribed right now, welcome to the blogging master!


    January 4, 2013 at 1:35 pm

  90. Agree with you totally about the mess that Windows 8 is. I’d also like to point out the mess that Visual Studio 2012 is; I refuse to use it.


    January 4, 2013 at 1:19 pm

  91. There’s the elephant in the room! Inquiring minds do want to know.

    I’d like to second what others have said – the font choice here is making this painful to read the comments.


    January 4, 2013 at 12:51 pm

  92. Guess he did RK :)

    Thanks Steve for starting the New Year by stepping out on a new stage! Look forward to hearing what you do going forward and fond memories if what you did with “them”.

    Tony T

    January 4, 2013 at 12:41 pm

  93. Ohhh, it can get worse, believe me. uncomfortably … worse!


    January 4, 2013 at 12:39 pm

  94. Mazel Tov Steven!

    Eric LeVine

    January 4, 2013 at 12:24 pm

  95. Hey Steve,

    Thanks for all the risks/decisions/push that you did to accomplish such radical changes in an old ecosystem.
    Sure there’s a few rough spots, but quite an accomplishment and to skateboard on the surface after all that.
    Good luck on all your new endeavors.


    January 4, 2013 at 12:23 pm

  96. Welcome back Steve! can’t wait to read your first blog (not including this announcement of the new blog). Love your avatar too..

    Adarsha (@mvadu)

    January 4, 2013 at 12:18 pm

  97. Lucida isn’t a very good blog font choice for Windows users, with no true bold or Italic styles in-box. Suggest removing “Lucida Sans Unicode” from your CSS font stack. Best of luck with the blog! Si

    Si Daniels

    January 4, 2013 at 11:49 am

  98. Yep, hence my humble admission of not being facile enough to be an editor. Grammar Girl, like yourself, perhaps, has a real big problem with checkouts that say “15 items or less”. It’s just another dumb ass rule (Oh, was that supposed to be “dumb-ass”? Muh baad). Never understood people who insisted on punishing or gently mocking others for this insignificant transgression. No one is confused. The rule is ridiculous. It must die. Hopefully (please don’t say is should read “I hope”) it’s on the way to a quaintness reached by the “may” and “can” distinction. English is a living thing. It changes. And, praise Jah, mon, it’s not owned by the grammar police inna Babylon, who would ossify it if they had the chance. I realize there is some weird thing about count nouns and mass nouns. Screw that. I don’t want to sound prissy. You of course, can suit yourself. You are also welcome, if so moved, to copy edit this reply. I’m sure I messed up somewhere.

    Evan Thomas

    January 4, 2013 at 11:49 am

  99. Windows 8: People post huge lists of failings all over the net and the fanbots so far weren’t able to crack those criticisms down. Isn’t that worrying? Sure, there were always detractors, especially coming from the FOSS brigade, but never before was a Windows OS this hated by the Windows devs and admins themselves. Something is definitely different this time. I can’t remember when MS censored posts to such extend like you did on the B8 blog (or ever in fact). I can’t remember when there was such a silence on Microsoft’s part on the issues. And comparing the failtrain of W8 to Vista is hopelessly naive. As I said: Comparing Vista to Windows 8 is flattering Windows 8. Vista’s problems were accidental bugs and issues (it’s not like the Vista team wanted those speed problems), while pretty much all flaws of 8 aren’t bugs, but are by design and put on purpose. That’s far worse! It’s pretty much guaranteed that bugs get fixed, but this quagmire..?

    Let’s take the metro menu: All the links to the document folders, control panel, power button etc. are randomly spread apart and you need to hunt them all down. The hierarchy menu (reachable through hidden “All Programs”) is even more confusing now than it was with the Start Menu. Despite having the whole screen at their disposal, they have somehow managed to make it more worse – it’s an intimidating wall of text that scares far more than the old “All Programs” ever did.

    Far more things are hidden, it’s less central. There’s lots of scrolling involved (far more nauseating than scrolling the start menu, because the whole screen scrolls this time), handling with the search results is a mess, there are no MRU lists, installing new programs shuffles that thing around and many times barfs dozens of items on it, because there are no folders. You have the jarring context switch, you have no indication that it is searchable (yet is is), and on and on. The only improvement is that you have a bit more items at glance before you need to scroll around. Whoopie doo.

    And it’s not only about the metro-menu and all the headache that brings, it’s the whole approach. For example the darn “apps” themselves: How hard could it have been to include a “Pro mode” (with scary “You’re on your own now!” warnings if needed) or something like that which would allow sideloading? They could still have their store and still make the enthusiasts and “Pros” happy. It would have been easy to make the Metro-Notro-Win8stylestoreapps-whatever more appealing to the laptop and desktop users. How about more features availble the bigger the screen is? “Windows has detected you have a 24 inch screen, multi-tasking and windowing of Metro apps is enabled now”. Stuff like that wouldn’t be too hard, freeware like Bluestacks does it! But no, Microsoft has chosen the most limiting and existing-customers-repulsing way possible. That is why there are complaints and bad feeling all around. That’s where the “walled garden” and “dictatorial” accusations come from. MS was a quite comfortable choice between the strict Apple- and the free-for-all linux world, pretty much the golden middle, now they are doing their darndest to change themselves into a totally redundant MicroApple and this generates ill felings. The many game developers were annoyed for good reasons IMHO. And let’s not start on the limitations of the metro apps.. Oh sure, they aren’t forcing metro down on you, except they do:

    Now let’s forget the start screen, just open up an audio file on the desktop.. BAM – You’re on a full screen monstrosity, with “parental advisory” graphics from obscene rap album covers and stuff like that. With no obvious way to get out of it. PROGRESS. They wanted to simplify Windows 8. That’s why instead of clicking on an easy to spot bright red X, (that’s faaar to power user for the common idiot to understand) you need to “grab” the application by its invisible head and drag it down the drain so that it can disappear. And if you managed to close it, you’re back on the metro screen instead of the desktop (where you started). Just fabulous! So just playing a darn audio file means switching through completely different GUI environments and playing a mini-adventure. Same is happening when you open up pictures and movie files. Yes, that’s what I call a great user experience right there. Then there are other nerve wreckers like the DVD codec issue and loony bin decisions like WMP not playing them even if you have the codecs installed. Not to forget the über-retarded default apps like mail, bonkered Sype…

    Sure, you can hack-around to link WMP back to the files etc. but shouldn’t an “upgrade” make stuff.. you know, better?! How’s stuff like that a good default experience? In the first beta versions, the welcome screen could not be clicked away. You had to drag it away with the mouse! Totally insane. That’s one of the very few things they have fixed, but the fact that something like that made it into an alpha version, yet alone beta, makes it clear what kind of carelessness the “design” of Win8 truly was/is. I am pretty sure the main reason the server got metro too is to prevent “power users” running Server 2012 as a desktop replacement.

    All that is just NOT comparable to the previous versions. Never before were there such regressions in usability of Windows and “feel” of the company. You cannot will that fact just away.

    Then there’s the whole subplot about their handling of developers and the whole Silverlight affair to promote the W8 craplets – killing SL just when it was going strong as LOB tool. The amount of badwill they have created with this OS among their (former) allies, devs and supporters is just staggering.

    And if the PC/laptop market is collapsing, why is the Macbook market going great? Because they haven’t crippled their OS maybe? No one is going to do productivity stuff on a tablet UI darn it. They should have completely separated both worlds. Both uncripppled UIs on the same device, switchable, would work (connect your tablet to a keyboard, mouse and display, switch to the uncrippled desktop -> you have a productivity device) but this FrankenOS abomination they did instead suits just about NOBODOY. Metro gets in your way on the Desktop and the Desktop gets in your way on metro (many settings are only reachable through the desktop CP etc.). It’s a mess, pure and simple. And stop dreaming about this crazy idea about a touch revolution on the PC, it’s a pipe dream because your damn arms are going to fall off using it this way. It’s a nice gimmick that people will forget within two days that it is even there. It’s as if MS would have designed the OS mainly around the voice recognition feature in Windows 7. Pure, raw, unhindered MADNESS.

    Well, Sinofsky, let’s see whether you’re sincere enough to allow this posting here.


    January 4, 2013 at 10:39 am

  100. Just asked my buddy yesterday if you had a personal blog outside of your Microsoft one that I could read. He didn’t think you did, but good to know you do now!

    Michael Massaro

    January 4, 2013 at 10:14 am

  101. Steve, the Surface is a great device. But I have a couple of questions:

    1. Why were Mozilla refused access to Desktop Win32 APIs in Windows RT? Surely fair competition between IE and Mozilla is only good for the consumer.

    2. Why was the start menu removed from the Desktop mode in Windows 8? It could have complemented the start screen (which users could get used to allowing the Start menu to be removed in WP9) instead of leaving users out in the cold.

    Many thanks


    January 4, 2013 at 10:13 am

  102. Reblogged this on Ackonit.


    January 4, 2013 at 10:09 am

  103. I am interested to know how did you forecast a product release date and decide that a product is ready to ship on that date.

    I know it was you who made Microsoft synonymous with Service Packs/Hotfixes. But it is always interesting to know how did you make that decision that the customer/user can wait for this feature/defect fix.


    January 4, 2013 at 10:04 am

  104. Wouldn’t that be fewer words?


    January 4, 2013 at 9:50 am

  105. “Super excited” — I’m tired of seeing this phrase both within and outside Microsoft.


    January 4, 2013 at 9:46 am

  106. Sincerely no offense intended, but could you hire an editor? Maybe a good writer from the local college paper, if you want to cheap out. Check this edit:

    “Office Hours was a blog that discussed the challenges and choices in creating and managing large scale products and services.”

    You already called Office Hours a blog, so why say later “Office Hours was a blog”? That’s verbose and redundant.

    The whole sentence easily distills down to…
    “Office Hours covered creating and shipping large-scale products and services.”

    Easy Breezy Cover Girl. It’s the same thing in less words without corporate speak.
    I’m not pitching for a job. No no no. I’m an artist, not a writer, Jim. You’d fire my ass quick.

    Evan Thomas

    January 4, 2013 at 9:13 am

  107. Happy New Years Steve


    January 4, 2013 at 9:06 am



    January 4, 2013 at 8:56 am



    January 4, 2013 at 8:56 am

  110. hi Steve, i will be following this blog.

    giorgio d'agostino

    January 4, 2013 at 8:40 am

  111. Great to hear the experiences of someone who emphasized the iterative development process in the corporate world. Did you try a strict Agile method, or more picking and choosing what works best?

    George Stephanis

    January 4, 2013 at 8:31 am

  112. Great article Steven. Each stage of development of the product is a learning experience and people who are able to incorporate and filter right feedbacks, the product is transformed to mass acceptance.

    Being engineer it is hard for us to imagine error at our end and we are more eager to justify our eternal self. Looking through other people eyes is more important but neglected in most companies.


    January 4, 2013 at 8:22 am

  113. Looking forward for more learning.

    Laks Gandikota

    January 4, 2013 at 8:22 am

  114. In the end the only thing that matters is the shipped product , we are all impatient to learn from your experience at Microsoft and your philosophy / techniques for delivering awesome products

    mparaiso (@MPinteractiv)

    January 4, 2013 at 8:08 am

  115. Hi, Steven,
    Looking forward to reading your blog, from Italy!


    January 4, 2013 at 7:57 am

  116. This is great Steven, I would be so excited to check from time to time for the facts that you post.

    I’m also interested in knowing how you guys work ( Programmaticlly ).

    You go steven.

    Mohsen Elgendy

    January 4, 2013 at 7:53 am

  117. Fantastic to see you posting again, Steven. I am curious to know, though, what you’ll be doing when you’re NOT blogging.

  118. Hi Steve

    I was pleasantly surprised to see the symbol Om on your blog.

    What does the symbol signify for you?


    Sriram S

    January 4, 2013 at 6:42 am

  119. Nice article. Would be great learning from you Steve. I would be grateful if you were explain the the reason behind having an “OM” symbol on the side?


    January 4, 2013 at 6:24 am

  120. what you’ll do next?

    a web startup?

    a new OS?

    a new.space company?

    gaetano marano

    January 4, 2013 at 3:50 am

  121. Steven, good luck with your new adventure.

    Watch for the Lorum Ipsum post readable on Google Reader ;)

    Kind regards.


    January 4, 2013 at 3:47 am

  122. 虽但厉


    January 4, 2013 at 2:27 am

  123. Steven, please, place a bit of content on second-level domain (learningbyshipping.com). Now http://learningbyshipping.com/ shows an advertisement placed by the domain registristrator.

    Pavel Surmenok

    January 4, 2013 at 1:33 am

  124. Hope to continue hearing from you through this blog, Mr. Sinofsky!


    January 4, 2013 at 1:19 am

  125. I really liked this post. Nice to read this post written by great former chief. Being an India i liked your om symbol on this blog. It looks so good. Thank Steven sir


    January 4, 2013 at 12:51 am

  126. I’ve missed the internal blog posts for a while now. Glad to see you’re still getting your ideas out there! I’ll certainly be following the blog with interest.

    I was hoping that you removing your content from the harsh light of the Microsoft product spotlight would drive some of the more inane commenters away. From the early comments, I see that isn’t the case. Just know that those of us in the trenches, shipping products really appreciate you sharing your wisdom!


    January 4, 2013 at 12:42 am

  127. i am big fan of your writing…your articals are awesome sir, glad you started again.
    looking forward to more

    Manoj Sahu (@sahu_i)

    January 4, 2013 at 12:15 am

  128. I look forward to reading the blog.


    January 3, 2013 at 10:37 pm

  129. I’m certainly not an expert like Steven is, but Sid does has a point. These two lines struck me as very profound:

    “The most fascinating aspect, for me, of technology product development is the intersection of engineering and social science. As engineers we are trained to find the right solution(s) given a set of constraints. Product development is about the inherent uncertainty of business and customer needs and desires, and those change depending on the context.”

    Sid’s point is valid, because that’s his asshole. I have mine, and you yours. I’m sure we can all compare those two lines to Steve Job’s remarks about the cross roads of technology and liberal arts. Neither is right, neither is wrong, just different.


    January 3, 2013 at 10:33 pm

  130. OMMMMM… Welcome Back to the blogosphere. Happy to see you writing again. I look forward to gaining insight from you and the comments that will arise from your posts. All the best! (P.S. Love your profile image/symbol)

    Chris Johnston

    January 3, 2013 at 9:09 pm

  131. How is your mantra different from “release early, release often”


    January 3, 2013 at 8:38 pm

  132. Looking forward to more insights. “Learning by Shipping” – very true. Something that I learn a lot these days founding my own startup.

    Min Ming Lo

    January 3, 2013 at 8:26 pm

  133. Hello Steve, Why did you leave Microsoft?


    January 3, 2013 at 8:22 pm

  134. lulz. Go troll somewhere else. SteveSi is the highest bandwidth person I know in a universe full of high bandwidth people. You’re… Someone who doesn’t register on the internet.


    January 3, 2013 at 8:17 pm

  135. Great to see the new blog, and welcome to the WordPress family. Please let me know if there’s anything I can help with.


    January 3, 2013 at 7:44 pm

  136. don’t flatter yourself, Sid! I have barely seen or heard of anyone who can ship software at scale, like Steven. and unlike you I save you time by not disclosing my credentials. get rid of the cool factor in your notes, and just read. chances are you’ll learn something.

    Kamran Numvar

    January 3, 2013 at 6:39 pm

  137. Hi Steve I love the title mate. Can you tell me how much of the title relates to your methodology, i.e. is the goal to ship (most finished product possible) then learn from the shipped product to improve future versions or alternative products? I was an integral part of launching an ODM Tablet PC globally back in 2010 and learnt a great deal by shipping. More than I did by developing the Tablet. Good luck. I’ll visit often as you post.


    January 3, 2013 at 5:43 pm

  138. I was huge fan of your internal blog, Steven, and look forward to some great posts. I learned a ton from your posts, and I appreciated how you responded to feedback from people throughout Microsoft, not just from the Windows team. Good luck!

  139. Steve, wishing you “BeHatzlacha” with this next segment of your illustrious career. Looking forward to following your new blog. :-)

    Yosi Mor

    January 3, 2013 at 5:27 pm

  140. Pretty excited for you to strike out on your own — What a perfect name for a new blog and a new “approach” to the world.

    I run a product development studio called “LiziLabs” where we worship daily at the altar of “Learning by Shipping” — We realized that after building products for ourselves and after talking to dozens of clients, the most important thing is “Making to know”. I think it was Oscar Wilde who remarked that there’s an abyss between the brain and the pen — It’s so true. Getting out of your head and into users’ hands is the best possible thing to validate an idea.

    Best of luck to you in your new endeavors. If you ever need someone to test out a product or provide you with some UX feedback, give us a holler!

    Ash Bhoopathy
    cofounder & gestalt-ingenieur, LiziLabs

    Ash Bhoopathy

    January 3, 2013 at 5:23 pm

  141. Exciting times Steve, glad you’re writing again! Look forward to reading these!

    Werner Kasselman

    January 3, 2013 at 5:04 pm

  142. This is a good idea.


    January 3, 2013 at 4:24 pm

  143. awesome.. looking forward to reading your blog again.

  144. I do not know you personally. I have built products of a fair bit of complexity and have made money in the process. I have been reading your book.

    My impression is that you are a deeply intelligent man holding onto a deeply flawed ideology. The result is absolutely soulless products, shipped by teams beaten down into submission. Of course, you can view this as a random comment from the net, but let me assure you I *know* software, perhaps as much as you know.

    I read your book in the same vein I have read Das Kapital – to understand the mindset that produces such deeply flawed ideologies.

    Sid Victor

    January 3, 2013 at 3:54 pm

  145. Looking forward to reading this

    Ravi Raman

    January 3, 2013 at 3:53 pm

  146. Looking forward to reading your blog, Steven.

    Brad Silverberg

    January 3, 2013 at 3:28 pm

  147. I enjoyed reading your blog posts in the past, looking forward to your insight and thoughts on product design.

    good luck!


    January 3, 2013 at 2:53 pm

  148. No one forces you to read any blog or listen to any podcast or go for any presentation. You read/listen/ go if you think that it adds any value (intellectual, entertainment or emotional etc). Hence calling name is just not a right thing.


    January 3, 2013 at 2:52 pm

  149. Is this the douchebag for the utter failure of windows 8? Why would anyone care about what he has to say …


    January 3, 2013 at 2:21 pm

  150. Steven, looking forward to learn your ideas about product development as I’m supporting globalizing them.


    January 3, 2013 at 2:07 pm

  151. I hope you will break that pattern over here! All the best!

    Mark Surpa

    January 3, 2013 at 1:30 pm

  152. Steven, I have noticed that you are not a good listener from the way you have managed your Windows 8 blog where you explained upcoming features with technical aspects and usability ideas. I am sure a bunch of us will watch this one from a distance, now !

    Mark Surpa

    January 3, 2013 at 1:28 pm

  153. Nice to see you beginning to blog again, Steven. I’m looking forward to reading some more stuff from you. :-)

  154. I look forward to reading your posts. Good luck Steven Sinofsky!

    Jeremy Pullicino

    January 3, 2013 at 12:23 pm

  155. Just a quick recommendation. Choose a “metro style” WordPress theme for your blog. They exist and look great and digitally authentic

    Nazmus Khandaker

    January 3, 2013 at 12:12 pm

  156. I will be following this blog, just as I followed your previous blog, Steven.

    Thomas Vanhoutte

    January 3, 2013 at 12:08 pm

  157. your articals are awesome sir…:) nice to see you on blog.

    Sopan Patil (@sopanx)

    January 3, 2013 at 11:59 am

  158. I’d love to learn about product design and development. Looking forward to reading your blog, Steven.

    Omar Shaik (@OmarShaik10)

    January 3, 2013 at 11:35 am

  159. Looking forward to reading the blog…


    January 3, 2013 at 11:13 am

  160. As a past reader of both Building Windows blogs, I’m certainly interested to hear what you have to say about the creation and shipping process of products and what goes into making that happen. Even if they are a bit long, it’ll be nice to hear from someone who’s certainly had their share of shipping successes

    Joel Braun (@JoelSBraun)

    January 3, 2013 at 11:03 am

  161. Good to see you continuing the writing, Steve. Loved your articles on Building Windows 8.

    Now that you’re out of Microsoft, have any feedback on what improvements you would make to Windows 8 as a product? No product is ever released perfectly (or in totality), so as you said above “putting the broad feedback loop to work”…

    Good luck in your future endeavours. Will be following.

    Stephen Adams

    January 3, 2013 at 10:58 am

  162. Reblogged this on edtorr and commented:
    Sinofsky después de MS


    January 3, 2013 at 10:52 am

  163. Really happy to see your continuing where Office Hours left off! I really enjoyed reading your posts, they were very insightful. Looking forward to more.

    Michael Braude

    January 3, 2013 at 10:50 am

  164. So do you have any thoughts on better approaches than the old on time, high quality, lots of features pick any two? You’ve talked about cutting is shipping, there’s the Apple dictum that shipping is also a feature – are those similar principles?

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