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More Empathy for Windows Users

Windows 8 launches to mixed reviews and the guy who oversaw it steps down.
November 13, 2012

Now that Steven Sinofsky, the leader of Microsoft’s Windows division, is stepping down, how will the development of the operating system change at this crucial time for the company and its role in the marketplace? Microsoft investors seem to have been spooked by the implications. But this piece from AllThingsD points out that Microsoft might find it easier to integrate Windows with other parts of the company now that Sinofsky is gone.

It’s also worth reading this 2009 profile of one of the people who will fill his role, Julie Larson-Green. Among other things, it explains how Larson-Green tries to tap empathy for computer users and how she relies on data about how people actually interact with their PCs. (Disclosure: I commissioned and edited this profile when I was technology editor of The Associated Press.)

Larson-Green … grew up in tiny Maple Falls, Wash., about 100 miles north of the software maker’s headquarters in Redmond. She waited tables to put herself through Western Washington University, then took a job in 1987 answering customer support calls at Aldus, a pioneering software company in Seattle. During six years at Aldus, Larson-Green worked her way into software development and earned a master’s in computer science on the side. But she credits her waitressing and customer-service work for making her good at her current job. “The primary things that help you create a good user experience are empathy, and being able to put yourself in the place of people who are using the products,” she said. “User interface is customer service for the computer.”

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