Thursday, February 08, 2007

Large-Scale Research Project Aims to Make Windows Vista Useful, Fun for All

How Microsoft conducted user research for Vista ...

A two-year program tapping 50 families from across the globe to test Windows Vista provides feedback that has been fundamental in helping shape the operating system during product development.

Fifty families from seven countries lived with Windows Vista for nearly two years as part of the largest-scale consumer research program Microsoft had ever undertaken before a Windows launch.

In that time, participants say, life was good.

“Windows Vista has taken the whole concept of a computer and expanded it to something you can take out of the computer room and put in the family room,” says Thuy Shimizu, a Bellevue, Wash., resident who was asked to participate in the “Life with Windows Vista” program along with her husband, Brandon. “It’s not just an operating system; it’s a family entertainment system. I never thought that I would be taking my computer into my personal life. I’ve always associated computers with my work life. Not anymore.”

Microsoft credits the Shimizus and the other families – who were selected from focus groups and through various marketing methods – for helping design a system that is user friendly for all ages. Life with Windows Vista participants also helped identify more than 800 bugs during the two-year program, in addition to helping shape the software into what it is today by discovering and testing features that worked and didn’t work for them personally.

That feedback, says Trish Miner, research manager for the “Life with Windows Vista” program for Microsoft, was the point of their participation and critical to the development process.

“We wanted to make sure that our core customers were involved throughout the development life cycle and could clue us into what worked well and what did not,” Miner says. “We also wanted to make sure that everything they wanted to do with Vista, they could do easily. We encouraged them to try new things and test the features to the max.”

Robin Mason, a self-described “tech fanatic” from Phoenix, Ariz., did not need much encouragement in that arena."    (Continued via Microsoft)    [Usability Resources]

Vista User Testing - Usability, User Interface Design

Vista User Testing

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