GLOBAL – Windows Phone director Joe Belfiore is proud of the attention to detail in the Windows Phone software on the Nokia Lumia family of phones.
“Have you seen the expression on the face of the text icon when you receive a lot of texts?” he asks.
“No,” I say. “I probably don’t get as many texts as you.”
He taps the screen of his Nokia Lumia 800 and the tiles light up instantly, just like the proud dad expression on his face.
It’s like he’s asked his child to perform the guitar solo from Stairway to Heaven after weeks of practice, and he knows it’s going to be good.
“Ah, I can’t show you right now, cos I haven’t got loads of texts. Quick, send me some texts, he asks his public relations aide.
She duly starts tapping away on her phone. “Sorry Joe, I can’t get a signal,” she says. Well this is a tech show and we are deep inside the Venetian hotel in Vegas at CES, so it’s understandable.
Joe looks crestfallen for a second and says: “Well, you get a surprised look on the icon. It’s really cool. Right now we’re getting an unhappy face because there’s a problem with the signal.”
As corporate vice president and director of Windows Phone Program Management, Joe Belfiore is responsible for the design of Windows Phones software. And he’s dedicated to making it a fun experience with all the little details. Like the one where you shake the phone with the Xbox avatar on screen and it falls over.
Joe is the Windows wizard who helped to make Windows XP such a success after taking a lead role in the development of the Windows 95 interface.
It’s an amazing career when you consider that he joined Microsoft straight from Stanford University in 1990.
So he was the natural choice when it came to developing the Windows Phone design that you see on Nokia Lumia phones today.
“The most important thing about it is that it has integrity through the whole experience,” says Joe. “If you do a search, or you do email, or you make a phone call, or you take a picture, there’s a continuity, a predictability and smoothness in the whole thing.
“I really like the visual design being different than what’s out there today and I like the fact that it’s an interface that grows on you because it’s simultaneously trustworthy and whimsical.
“We have a fantastic design team. There’s a group of people who spend their waking and also probably also their sleeping hours thinking about the visual aspects of information design. How do we use typography? How do we use motion and animation? We even have specialists at motion and animation.”
But having brilliant designers is not enough, if you don’t have the engineers to make it happen.
“One of the things that’s unique about the Windows Phone team for me is that we are in a situation where we can couple those amazing design thinkers with engineers who are passionate about building those designs.
“There’s a great collaborative, positive, healthy relationship between those two teams, design and engineering.
“When you have that healthy sort of artistic collaboration then what you see in the product is soulful and alive and engaging.
“I think we are fortunate that we have that today.”
When asked about what would appeal to the American audience about the Nokia Lumia 900, Joe said: “I think there are a lot of people who are going to like the size of the screen and the front facing camera is going to be appealing.
“And the beautiful design, I should probably mention that right up front. If you walk into a phone store today, you see a lot of phones that are OK.
“There aren’t really a lot of phones that stand out with craftsmanship and beauty in their design and I think the Nokia Lumia 900 will do that.”