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Why interfaces should be widgetized

Sometimes I’m amazed by the things software can do already. This video recorded at TED is a perfect example of something you think would be great in the future but can be done already.

Over the last years we have seen many great research projects by Microsoft. Amazing features doing amazing things with technology and usability. These features often don’t make it back to the Windows mothership.

Microsoft is an enormous company, building one major product. To build anything as big as this you have to compromise a lot. Compromises made to build a generic product for every user from newbie to advanced.

What if Microsoft released Windows as a simple, solid and free platform where you can buy the plug-ins/add-ons you need? Like the frame of a bike, a solid foundation to build on. You buy a computer with a simple Windows installation, if you want to use it to organize your holiday pictures you buy an extension. If you have trouble reading the small fonts, you buy an extension, and so on.

The rise of widgets is already ending the existence of small programs. Could widgets also make an end to the generic interface? Why isn’t my interface widgetized? Why do I have to use the same interface a coder uses or my mother? This is extra luggage that can be left out the core of my operating system.

If we let a user decide what his interface, usability and functionality would look like research groups can really use their power to focus on problem solving. They can develop an interface and sell it as an addition instead of creating something beautiful and losing the best things in compromises.

Some of us like the interface used in Minority Report, others like the one used in the Matrix. It’s all about what you want to do with your computer.

Read more about the software Photosynth at Microsoft Live Labs