Sunday, May 9, 2010

Action Center - Simply a great thing Microsoft did

This is the last post in a series on pleasant surprises from Microsoft. We’ve been talking about some of the things that make you think “Wow! That’s a great idea!” So without further ado here’s the last thing I wanted to talk about.

Today we're talking about the Windows Action Centre. It seems like such a small thing... That little flag down in your system tray. You may not have even noticed it. But it represents what I consider to be an important shift in thinking.

Action Centre brings to the fore any recommendations the user may not have been aware of. For example a fresh build of Windows 7 will pop an action notice reminding you to configure backups! That one reminder will actually be what prevents data loss for thousands!

Some people won’t like it. They don’t like being nagged to do things. Also I’m sure it’ll end up giving some useless recommendations. But for me I was sold the day it popped a message that said “Oh hey I noticed you’ve been having some stability problems. Did you know there’s a new chipset driver available that will resolve this? Here’s a direct link to download what you need.”

Wait... What?

The OS knew it was having problems, queried a web service with the problem signature, found a match and recommended a solution! With zero effort from me the user! Take a minute to ponder that. It’s pretty dam amazing.

The more issues that can be resolved easily like that, the less time we spend maintaining our computers giving us more time to use them as the useful tools they’re supposed to be.

Action Center is a fantastic initiative and it should be applauded. Check out this video on the subject. It shows that much greater consideration has gone into the end user experience, and ultimately investing in making life easier for the user is only going to result in higher quality products. This is a key reason for this series.

We’ve seen a lot of high quality products come out of Microsoft recently, it’s a massive improvement and I sincerely hope it’s a trend that continues.

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