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Jun 4, 2022Liked by Steven Sinofsky

One small story about managing the field salesforce's perception of "Classic Mode."

The field had accelerated its desire to manage the decisions made by the product teams due to the security and bug issues of the early 2000s as well as being responsive to enterprise customers’ issues. The field put out an annual survey to customers measuring their attitudes about all aspects of dealing with Microsoft including product quality. A big process with regular review meetings was set up to ensure the product teams paid attention to this information and answer for any other hot issues being escalated from the salespeople. This was framed as increasing customer satisfaction, or in jargon improving the “Customer and Partner Experience” AKA CPE.

The process created an established record of what each product’s top customer issues were. Office’s #1 satisfaction issue was the perception that the product could do almost anything, but it was too hard to figure out how to accomplish tasks. This was well documented and Office product managers assigned to CPE were well versed in repeatedly assuring the field that addressing this perception was being worked on. When the urgent request for “Classic Mode” came through the CPE process there was a fruitful discussion about balancing the direct ask versus the long-term shared goal of addressing the top satisfaction issues of each product. Adding “Classic Mode” would mean that enterprise customers would never be able to improve their long-term satisfaction with Office. Having the years long record from the satisfaction surveys was a solid argument for staying the course with the Ribbon.

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Great story.

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May 22, 2022·edited May 22, 2022Liked by Steven Sinofsky

It is sort of a bitter-sweet thing. With regard to preservation, an important matter, continuing a Classic Mode (i.e., *.doc, along-side *.docx) remains important. And I still wear a Microsoft "ytilibitapmoC drawkcaB" T-shirt, living firmly in the Raymond Chen view. I'm currently struggling to find a way to preserve a pile of HTML created using the Site Builder model and was amused to be running Windows XP just yesterday. Some things cost too much to convert while remaining prized.

Having said that, for me I knew the ribbon won, and a simple demonstration is its presence in the current File Explorer. It is great that it can be collapsed although I almost always leave it in screen shots where it announces without doubt, "Microsoft Windows spoken here."

Thanks for this exciting chapter of your experience. It is thrilling to think of what that achievement must have felt like.

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Thank you! I think there's a good distinction to be made between compatibility in data and APIs that is different than compatibility with human interface. There are many more ways to keep programs isolated from each other or to keep data live with new software than there are to maintain existing human interface (other than running old software which is perfectly fine). The most adaptable part of the whole stack is the human :-)

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