Like many Windows 8 users, self-taught user-experience designer Jay Machalani was frustrated by the inconsistencies of Microsoft’s touch-friendly operating system. Instead of moaning online or ignoring his frustrations, Machalani set out to prove things could change for the next major release of Windows in a series of concepts. Machalani doesn't work for Microsoft, but his ideas caught their attention. As I sat and listened to Windows chief Terry Myerson introduce Windows 10 at Microsoft’s special press event last week, I was immediately reminded of Machalani’s concepts. From a modern Start menu to windowed apps, Microsoft demonstrated many of the exact same features that Machalani called for almost a year ago. If Windows 7 was everyone’s idea, Windows 10 appears to be his.
Machalani’s concepts centered around a method of easing the jarring switching between desktop and "Metro." He even produced a prototype of a way to switch between the "Metro" part of Windows 8 and a traditional Start menu on a hybrid device like the Surface. Microsoft created its own concept in the form of Continuum, a way for hybrid devices to use both touch and keyboard / mouse features. They’re both very similar, aiming to improve the experience of mouse and keyboard on hybrid machines with touch / tablet modes.
It’s impossible to say whether Microsoft was influenced by Machalani’s concepts directly, but the software maker definitely saw them and invited him to campus to discuss his ideas for Windows earlier this year. "It was great to meet Jay and hear his design thinking," says Albert Shum, general manager of design and content at Microsoft in a statement to The Verge. "We always love engaging with smart, passionate people who look at the world and see new possibilities."
Machalani welcomes Microsoft’s approach. "It’s great! If I managed to influence the Windows design in any way to a good direction, that’s enough."
- Concept Machalani's original Start menu idea, complete with Live Tiles and traditional apps.
- Windows 10 Microsoft mixes Live Tiles and traditional apps with its own take on the modern Start menu.
- Concept Machalani's Start menu is fully customizable to stretch horizontally.
- Windows 10 Microsoft's modern Start menu extends based on the number of apps pinned, and works horizontally or vertically.
- Concept Machalani called for Windows 8 apps to be windowed with separate Charms controls.
- Windows 10 Microsoft has made modern apps windowed and the Charms features are hidden in a menu at the top-left of each app.