How long do you think companies work on products before releasing them? A month? Two months? Six months? A year? Two years? It actually depends on what company and what product you are talking about. In the case of Microsoft and Windows 8, we know the company was working on Windows 8 years before it was released earlier this year. In fact, we have mockups from 2010 (just a year after Windows 7) to show you.
According to Jensen Harris (the Director of Program Management for the Windows User Experience Team at Microsoft), Microsoft started “thinking” and “planning” about Windows 8 shortly after the release of Windows 7; more precisely, June 2009. By 2010 Microsoft had internal mockups of what they wanted Windows 8 to be.
The following are mockups of “Pocahontas”, the codename Microsoft used for Windows 8. These mockups were used by Microsoft internally to “unify” the vision of all the designers working on the project, in “early 2012”. These mockups were recently revealed by Harris in a keynote speech at UX Week 2012. Check them out:
If you compare the above mockups with the version of Windows 8 that was revealed last month, you will note that something (like the Start screen) have not changed very much since 2010. Other things, however, have changed — most notably the Charms bar.
Another interesting point is the tablet mockup that looks very much like the iPad Mini. Could this be an instance of Microsoft having corporate ninja oracles inside Apple? Or, if I may propose an insanely illogical idea, is this an example of two companies having the same vision? Who knows. For reference, however, the original iPad was released in early 2010.
Anyone that wants to see Harris’ whole roughly one hour keynote speech can hit up the link below.