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Interview with Adam Leader,  Product Manager: Microsoft TV Photo Viewer

ActiveWin.com: How long was the development cycle for the Microsoft TV Photo Viewer?  How many people were on the development team?

Adam Leader: The development cycle for the TV Photo Viewer was less than a year, although Microsoft typically doesn’t disclose details about our development plans. It was a pretty typical development effort for the Hardware group.

ActiveWin.com: Why did you choose the final design that you did for product? Did you have different designs to choose from?

Adam Leader: We wanted a design that looks like it belongs next to a TV. That’s where the colors and shapes came from.

ActiveWin.com: What was the most difficult aspect of the development process?

Adam Leader: We learned that customers really love their family photos, and they want them to look as big and bright as possible-we really think that TV Photo Viewer displays digital photos in great resolution, better than many of the digital cameras and other devices we compared it against. Check it out yourself at one of the merchandise setups at CompUSA stores or select Sam’s Clubs.

ActiveWin.com: How did the development team design the TV Photo Viewer software and hardware to work together flawlessly? Was there outside testing done similar to Microsoft software "beta testing”?

Adam Leader: The people that worked on the hardware and software were a part of the same team, working in the same hallway. So it was pretty easy to work together on all aspects of TV Photo Viewer.

We did a beta test-as I said before it was a pretty typical development effort and beta tests and other ways of getting customer feedback are standard parts of making products at Microsoft.  We tested the product with hundreds of beta users to insure that this was the best design of the product possible.

ActiveWin.com: What is special about the Microsoft TV Photo Viewer that places it in a unique position compared to similar products?

Adam Leader: First, TV Photo Viewer is easy enough for anyone in the family to use-whether they are 5 or 85.  Second, TV Photo Viewer let’s you bring your digital photos into the TV room, the social room of the house.  Third, the photos look great. Compare it to the alternatives-the photos look really great because TV Photo Viewer is completely designed to make your photos look great on TV.  Most alternatives, such as plugging your digital camera into the TV, are designed for other things and the “video out” is a secondary feature-often with secondary quality.  TV Photo Viewer let’s you get more out of the digital camera you already have.

ActiveWin.com: Why does the User's Guide state that it is not recommended to leave an image on the television screen for an extended period of time?

Adam Leader: Although we don't have any firm evidence that leaving a single image on your monitor will cause damage (like on old computer monitors) we thought it would be better to err on the side of safety and recommend against this practice.  We never saw any 'burn-in' of images on any of our test televisions, even ones that kept the same image for an extended time.  Again, this was more of a “better safe than sorry” scenario.

ActiveWin.com: Did the development team for Microsoft TV Photo Viewer work with any other product groups within Microsoft?

Adam Leader: Yes, we learned a lot from the other product groups that make consumer digital imaging products like Windows and Picture It!.

ActiveWin.com: Why do you feel that the Microsoft TV Photo Viewer is an excellent debut for Microsoft in the digital marketplace?

Adam Leader: TV Photo Viewer makes it easy for everyone to enjoy digital photos.  It is really universal-you don’t have to have a digital camera, you just have to want to see your friends and family’s photos.  Our customer and reviewer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.  People are excited to have another great way to enjoy their photos even more.

ActiveWin.com: Does Microsoft plan to release similar products to the TV Photo Viewer in the future?

Adam Leader: We have a lot of ideas, but we don’t have anything to announce right now.

ActiveWin.com: What do you like most about this product?

Adam Leader: I like that it’s designed for anyone, even technophobes, to be able to enjoy digital photos. We’ve known how popular digital cameras are. And we’ve known the owners love their cameras. But they’ve been hungry for new ways to show their great photos to their friends and family.



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