Expression in the Land of Beige?!
Theresa Lanowitz | June 13, 2006
Americans are obsessed with beige. They live in beige houses with beige furniture, beige floors, and beige walls. They wear beige pants and drive beige cars. They use beige computers and beige monitors and eat from beige plates atop beige tables and beige counters.

OK, maybe I am exaggerating, Americans choose from a palette consisting of eggshell, taupe, sand, nougat, tumbleweed, caramel, mocha, latte, stone, and light tan. Guess what, it is still beige by any other name!

As a society ensconced in beige it seems only logical that the human interface of the software designed by primarily Americans has been anything except revolutionary. Admit it, software interfaces have been rather beige!

At Tech Ed 2006, Microsoft is presenting its four new tenets for “People_Ready” software. As part of making the tenets reality, they are focusing on the correlation of said tenets and their products. One of the highlights of this movement has been the little publicized, but ultra cool Microsoft Expression product line.

Microsoft Expression is targeted to the designers of applications. That’s right, the people focused on human engineering and user interface! The people who work in lofts with exposed bricks and beams and studios with multi-colored walls, not beige carpeted cubicles with faux wood beige desks! Microsoft is targeting the designer!!! Microsoft is paying homage to the saviors from all that is beige!

Microsoft is the quintessential software company with a franchise business to preserve and protect. Part of that franchise preservation is coming through products for real live designers. Microsoft envisions a day when designers will be part of the development process. I do not think it is going to be that simple, but this is a start in the right direction. Microsoft has the clout, talent, and presence to build out the ecosystem required for design and subsequently designers. Microsoft can arm a cadre of partners with design experience to work with their tools. Realize design knowledge and expertise is not something that can be institutionalized through a few training classes. This is why Eichler’s are creating such a stir at the moment and mid-century modernism is gaining in appeal.

Solid design is critical and necessary for highly reliable and functioning software, regardless of where it is residing. Microsoft can help shape a culture of expression through software. This need to design more effectively must be part of the overall process, because some aspects of software creation are still art with some discipline.

What’s next? is on a roll, where are we headed?
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