How these control freaks leveled up our new wireless controller

For the past 19 years, the hardware team has been (almost obsessively) iterating the controller design. A millimeter here and a couple degrees there can mean the difference between “literally unplayable” and “quite possibly the best D-pad I’ve ever used” (true story).

And if there’s one thing they’ve learned, it’s that you don’t [insert choice verb here] with people’s controllers.

“Gamers are always looking for the fastest, most powerful console, but for what they hold in their hand? You’d better not change it without good reason,” laughs Senior Designer Ryan Whitaker.

Although the console powers the experience, the controller is…


Why these designers had to be in the room where it happens

In late 2017, a few small hardware teams quietly visited a handful of Xbox gamers’ homes in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City. With several black foam boxes in tow, they asked gamers to unplug their current Xbox and put the new shape in its place.

Fans knew this was for the next-generation Xbox consoles, but they had no design details and no engineering specs, just squares and rectangles. “We wanted their gut reaction to whether the silhouette piqued their interest. What we didn’t want to hear is ‘that looks like a microwave,’” laughs principal designer Chris Kujawski.


A Q+A between our community and design leads about our new Fluent icons

UPDATE ON JUNE 23, 2020:

  • Our Fluent icon set is now available on GitHub
  • The full set of icons in Figma can be found here. The Android-specific mobile kit can be found here. The iOS one can be found here.

Icons transcend languages. They’re signposts that light the way for an easy, delightful user experience. If an icon’s direction or message lacks clarity, it becomes eye candy at best and a distraction at worst. …


How our LGBTQI+ designers and allies took action for visibility

Image description: Some members of the Microsoft Pride team wearing Pride shirts.

Around the world, members and allies of the LGBTQI+ community are celebrating Pride month and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, which ignited the contemporary LGBTQI+ movement. We’ve come a long way, but we still have further to go in the fight for equality and the freedom to exist as our authentic selves.

Microsoft has been at the forefront of LGBTQI+ inclusion since 1989 and continues to advocate for equality in the workplace and worldwide in groundbreaking ways — and the Microsoft Pride 2019 campaign is no different. Spearheaded by the Microsoft employee group GLEAM, Global LGBTQI+ Employees and…


This Microsoft design icon reflects on design culture and the coolest things you have yet to see

Image description: Steve Kaneko sits on a grey couch with a blue sweater, while looking at the camera. 📷: Alyse Young

Steve Kaneko races down the stairs, apologizing for being late. “Sorry! I didn’t mean to keep you waiting. The Barcelona announcement is in a couple days, so I’m all over the place.”

I nod along, pretending I know what he’s referring to. He’s wearing a purple sweater and jeans with an open smile and friendly eyes — his casual style emblematic of leadership at Microsoft. “My office is behind biometric doors,” Steve sheepishly explains as we walk into a glass-enclosed focus room. “That’s why you couldn’t find it.”

Steve is the Partner Director of Design of Cognition, the team that…


Separating science fiction from real-world implications at the Seattle Design Festival

“This world doesn’t belong to them. It belongs to us,” Dolores whispered ominously into Teddy’s ear in the season one finale of HBO’s Westworld.

This is the critical moment where Dolores, an AI android in a fantastical theme park that invites people to pursue all hedonistic impulses, becomes sentient and realizes that she and the other androids must revolt against their human creators.

Robots taking over the world is not a new idea. And neither is the fear of them stealing our jobs. However, this current boom in computing power and the development of revolutionary algorithms collecting more data than…

Joline Tang

Former teacher, current cat owner. I manage the Microsoft Design publication on Medium on the side. My words are all me. She/her.

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