Conversations with Microsoft: Office 2010

It is easy to forget when we are presented with a piece of software that nothing about it is random. Software does not spring forth fully formed from its developers as Athena did from Zeus; rather, it is the result of years of research, development work, and testing.

It is also easy to overlook the fact that all that work is done by people, not faceless programming automatons. It is the unique personalities and personal goals of these people that shape a product , drive innovation, and impact the end-user experience.

The users of a piece of software, however, typically doesn’t see any of this when they install and run a program. They see features, icons, wizards, and may benefit from upgrades and enhancements in new versions without really understanding – or even thinking about – how these came about.

Microsoft Office has as many as 600 million users worldwide, of which 500 million are properly licensed. That makes it the most widely-used application in the world – and the introduction of a new version can have a significant impact on millions of knowledge workers and how they work.

What we don’t get to hear very often is the perspective of the people involved in creating Office 2010 from the ground up. Microsoft allowed us to talk with its developers in the final months of the development of Office 2010 and we asked them what they did to improve worker productivity and what they were most passionate about.

You can find out what they had to say in Conversations with Microsoft.

Jonathan B. Spira is CEO and Chief Analyst at Basex.

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