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Eng believers they can build cross-platform and customers won’t notice. X-platform solves your eng problem, not Customer use problem. 1/7
62 replies and sub-replies as of Jul 05 2017

History: Mac Word was huge successful product. Windows Word struggled early then took off. Corp Customers demanded consistency across. 2/7
We obliged. But we forgot that no one person in a company used both Mac & Win. It was an intermediary that wished for consistency. 3/7
Here’s an insiders view written 15 years later.… 4/7
Or maybe even a Wikipedia opinion!… 5/7 (ouch!)
Or how about this NY Times roundup by amazing @markoff. “Fury at Microsoft”… 6/7
Even if with biggest app across platforms it’s crazy hard to rise above what makes platforms feel like platforms to people. 7/7 // EOTS
So what do you think about the current Office 2016 on Mac essentially unifying the look again? Mac users more comfy with Office on iOS etc?
My god. It took that long to do a word count back then? And to boot up Word? How did I forget that! Wow.
Sometimes you just need designers that understand the target platform. Doesn't mean you can't reuse almost all code
Would you say that Microsoft's x-platform services don't really adapt well to the way people use diff platforms?
I feel like that was the version that ate a million documents... or is my memory corrupted?
That was either MacWrite or Word 3 for Mac.
Yes yes. Word 3. I did a lot of "tech support" that year.
Before I worked at MS a recruiter sent me a copy of Word 3. Two weeks later I got a product recall notice.
Word 6 for Win was bloated and unstable too. They’ve still not got it right -I got a surface just to run Office on Windows instead of on mac
living through this in a law firm, we wanted common file formats across platforms. Common UI for training.
Macs were a necessary evil in a world where WordPerfect was the standard.
MSFT & Jeff Raikes in particular fought hard for the biz. Law firms weren't Word clients. We bought into the promise.
of course, I was years gone before there was a common version of Word across platforms. And then the Mac version sucked.
There was nominal feature parity before System 7. Features diverged tons since then. Files mostly worked. Macros/addins never did.
managing and supporting x platform environments using MSFT software was my bread and butter.
Amused since Microsoft re-made all the same mistakes on mobile including shipping Metro-style UI on iOS. 🤦‍♂️🤷‍♂️ #historyrepeats
That was true once, yet now people will use Word on both platforms (I do). Office 2016 is an improvement but still a way to go.
Corporate customers or MS management to cut costs by using more common code base/design?
How do you think this would have played out if Mac and Windows had been a single product from the start?
Excel was so there’s a control test :) at Excel 5 it became “impossible” to keep the releases in sync due to platform divergence.
Write once, compromise everywhere.
1/ Solve for the customer first. Post-PC we've moved into a multi-device world. Coherence (v. consistency) across PC, Phone & TV has value.
2/ Not all consumers live in a homogenous ecosystem. iPhone + Windows; Mac + Alexa; Droid + Apple TV . . .
Does anyone live in a homogenous ecosystem?
3/ At scale users benefit from developers threading the needle for platform and application UX coherence.
I think that is a theory. Very few services are used that way.
4/ Mileage varies by product. Focus on data - how are people using the product. X-over users benefit from coherence (v consistency).
5/ Statistically majority of users are mobile only - so only a subset of experiences generally benefit from focus on x-over cases.
6/ As a design consideration x-platform is a consideration when it accurately describes real users, vs being an engineering requirement.
Cross platform development != cross platform UI. Plenty of ways to build one code base to multiple platforms with native UI controllers/use
That’s a theory that can work in practice for short periods of time until the platforms diverge and you find yourself building an OS.
For the largest, most integrated of applications, I agree. For the +90%? I think it takes a lot of effort to get to that decision point.
Yeah you need to be using some pretty niche features for your model to be truly tied to one platform.
Do you think tools like Xamarin are a pipe dream? (Haven't tried it personally)
It's a spectrum. Many ways to share code, many reasons to, and not to.
Apps based on ActiveX, DirectX, AppleScript, ColorSync…are waiting on line 1 to testify.
- you feel the same about Mobile as well using React/Ionic?
Well, customer use problem is faster, incremental updates. Easier to do when doing cross platform. Cross plat doesn't have to mean same UI.
I think that is less about customers and more about makers, as well.
Feature parity is what I'm looking for. Platform design language isn't really an issue now days, we are all multilingual in that regard.
Cross platform UI patterns with cross platform code is possible today and devs and users are successful with it, so times have changed
I don't think there is a fixed answer to this problem, but Steven's heuristic is correct. It is a multi-dimensional problem /1
User x device x platform x app functionality. There is a lot of judgment to hit the right balance. In the case of Word.../2
The OS platforms had diverged so far that it was a complete shoehorn of Windows word on Mac 4.x with the obvious performance trouble 3/3
System 7 v Windows (OLE, networking, files) huge divergence. Not unlike how Android and iOS diverging today (while web is mostly static).
X platform will work for users with low/high ‘app’ competence, but low OS awareness. Will fail for those with any degree of OS awareness.
Under finite resources, efficiency is the same as abundance. Imperfection is the price of earlier shipping, more features, better support.
I have a really hard time getting management to believe this. They'd rather drop platform specific features on the floor
And ship the lowest common denominator
OR, sometimes we ship something that works ok on one and is crippled on another because of platform differences
For many non unicorns/big corps, choice is between ok cross platform or great single platform experience. Biz model will necessitate which
Is it only about UI? How about faster deployment of new features to all platforms at once? Customers benefit from that.