What is your job?
I am the
design group director for the hardware design group which consists of
about twenty some people. In addition, we have seven industrial
designers on staff. Our group is one of the biggest corporate design
organizations around from a design standpoint. The group has been around
since 1991, and one of the older design groups within the company.
Can you tell us a
little bit about the Industrial Design Studio?
these offices around the studio generally have designers who are working
on the projects, including the library, product room, model shop (where
are all the hand carving takes place and where models come to life).
Even to this day as being as high tech as things are, everything is
still done by hand initially via clay or foam models, etc. At first,
they will actually carve it out using a file and sandpaper. Eventually
the design makes the way to a CAD database before making its way to
What type of
prototyping equipment is in use?
We use a machine
that generates a prototype using epoxy resin. Those are pretty cool
machines; however it takes awhile for a prototype to be produced. For
aesthetics, we generally use foam models because they are easier to
Did your group
design the Xbox hardware?
of the Xbox design team came out of the hardware organization. So the
short answer is yes, however now they are working within their own
Do you still assist
them at all during the design process?
are unique design group, we still provide feedback to other design
teams. We've done some work with the Xbox group doing game controller,
Tell us more about
the recent new color, style/pattern introductions.
stuff has been quite a revolution both within Microsoft and the design
industry as a whole. Lately, if you take a look at any recent consumer
products you'll see they have more
"personality" from a color and design standpoint. The same goes for the
products we are designing. As technology products become more
mainstream, people expect these things to have more personality and to
reflect their personality in better ways. We continue to do that by
providing different color options and you will see more from us in this
regard in the future.
What sets Microsoft
apart from a hardware standpoint?
We try to
stay in the top of our game in the originality and creativity behind our
work, but also in terms of technology behind the hardware.
What is the
(fairly new) is a repository for great work we have done over the years,
work in progress, and a good place of inspiration for our designers in
the design of new products.
How did the
Notebook Optical mouse come about?
This product we
are particularly proud of, considering the amount of work and research
that went into it. Basically, the whole program started with us looking
"what are some new ways people can interact with a mouse?” We actually
came up with some wacky designs at first, starting in 1999, and first
looking at comfort over all other things. Over the next two-three years,
there was a natural progression to the final model on the market today.
There are slightly different designs for Japanese and other foreign
research has gone into developing new colors, patterns, etc. for Microsoft
We have researched
many, many items. We looked into such things as bright and vibrant
colors. Even though most of the mice colors we research are not in
production, all of the ones here (not pictured) have made their way to a
customer for feedback. Even though some of the test colors are pretty
obnoxious, it is all part of the research. We also research different
weights, and have found in general consumers prefer a lighter mouse.
Do you have any
plans to offer an "insert" for mice similar to cell phones to offer a much
wider variety of color choices?
Our research shows
that once customers make their initial product choice they are pretty
satisfied with the color of the product, so inserts are not necessary.
We are beyond the days of "boring" beige.
the use of translucent materials in Microsoft hardware?
translucency in the same way we research color, and we have found that
having translucent materials add a "depth" feeling to products.
Did your group do
the SideWinder and Broadband Networking design?
Yes, our design
group did the designs for both those sets of products.
Interested in doing an interview?
contact us for more information.