It seems that the belief of on of the foremost usability experts is that the WYSIWYG is dead. According to Jakob Nielson’s Alertbox, the focus on usability design has now shifted to a results-oriented user interface or WYGIWYS (What You Get is What You See). Apparently, the original interface design concept based on a command line interface became deprecated by the introduction of the Macintosh GUI. Mr. Nielsen did appropriately point out the credit to Xerox in this article, however he maintains that it was Macintosh who was ultimately responsible for the effective perpetuation of the GUI on the end user. Finally, the author brings us to the upcoming release of Office 12. Apparently the “Old Way” has now been deprecated, and he states that it is in this software that the end user will be introduced to the “New Way” of results-oriented user interface.
This all seems to me much like the aforementioned argument of Xerox defining the idea, and Macintosh perpetuating it. It should not be left unnoted that there are many individuals and companies in the area of user interface design who have been “screaming out” for years about this very problem. Why else would there spring up companies such as Stardock, whose very purpose is to empower users with the ability to customize their workspaces to their needs? Although it is true as Mr. Nielsen describes that “…users often demand that other user interfaces work like Office”, there are preexisting paradigms, and if it is fitting to schedule Xerox for a blip on the usability screen of influential companies, then along the great giant of MS others should be named, such as Stardock, winCustomize, StyleXP, Litestep, Deviantart, etc. These communities / companies are as much responsible for the change in user-centered design as is Microsoft. Just because they swing a bigger bat, doesn’t mean they should get all the praise. After all, even if does end up being a user grand slam, they didn’t load the bases themselves.
Well that brings us to the subheading. I am wondering if all this talk about a user centered design has been the driving force behind so much of the reformulation in Windows Vista. It seems like Microsoft has finally gotten the hint and is trying to come up with more products that are focused on what people actually want as opposed to what they want people to want. I guess we will see when Vista goes public.