15 Years of Apple Homepages

I was looking at screenshots of’s former homepages (using the Internet Archive Wayback Machine) and decided to compile them into a slideshow. With the exception of Apple’s homepage in 1997, it’s pretty remarkable how little the core design has changed:

After 15 years, the layout of is still the same: prominently feature the latest product, with 3-4 little boxes below that highlight other recent products and company news. The homepage has become more evident and intuitive each year. Bigger pictures, less copy, bolder text, fewer items to click… It’s like a giant billboard. They stuck with a format that worked and continually refined it. [The two biggest changes: they moved the navigation bar to the top in 2000, then gave the entire site a facelift with the introduction of Leopard in 2007.]

It goes without saying that Apple’s strength is design, but their homepage deserves credit for being great for so long. Ever since its early days, has moved in the direction of being more friendly, focused, simple, and beautiful.

Bonus: Take a look at how MicrosoftDellHPIBM, and Sony’s homepages have evolved over the years. Much bigger redesigns.

“We’re at a tipping point with connected devices,” a recent blog post from Microsoft MSFT +1.69%‘s Internet Explorer team reads. “Every day, 3.6 million mobile devices and tablets are activated worldwide. That’s over five times more than the number of babies born each day!”  Source

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IllumiRoom is a proof-of-concept Microsoft Research project designed to push the boundary of living room immersive entertainment by blending our virtual and physical worlds with projected visualizations. The effects in the video are rendered in real time and are captured live — not special effects added in post processing.

A Cognitive Burden

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It’s hard to blame Microsoft for making bold decisions with its upcoming desktop operating system. But the renamed Windows 8-style UI (or Modern UI) instead of Metro might be too great a departure from known and trusted interactions found in the previous versions of Windows.

According to Raluca Budiu, User Experience Specialist with Nielsen Norman Group, who gave an interview to Laptop Magazine, some design decisions are confusing at best and, at worst, a cognitive burden that slows down the user.

Budiu used to do research in human-computer interaction at Xerox PARC, the very same company that invented the Graphical User Interface and gives therefore a valuable opinion on user interfaces and user experience.

Budiu states that the main problem with Windows 8 will be that users will have to deal with two completely different interfaces, that is to say the traditional Windows desktop interface and the tile-based Modern UI. Not only some interactions will be drastically different in Windows 8, but users will have to keep track of which action to use in which environment.

In addition to piling up two different user interfaces, Budiu believes that the app switcher is problematic. It shows each Modern style app in its own tile but all the desktop apps are regrouped in one tile. Users will have to remember the apps that are currently running in the desktop in order to avoid going back and forth between the desktop and the Start screen.

When it comes to finding a common point between these changes, the Start screen seems to incur Budiu’s wrath. It is both a waste of screen space and unintuitive. The Start menu button is gone and switching between the desktop and the Start screen is not evident at first — the button is hidden in a corner and you must hover to make it appear.

Many of the Modern interface paradigms are taken directly from Windows Phone 7. Buttons are not in plain view and most of the screen real estate is dedicated to content. It should have been adapted more thoroughly to the desktop environment.

The risks for Microsoft are clear. Windows users might retaliate badly to UI changes by using the desktop interface as much as they can. Some will put back upgrading their operating systems. By stating that they won’t offer to boot straight to desktop, Microsoft is courageous. The question now is whether they will be able to stay the course and whether the Start menu is effectively gone forever.


Another article I recently read about Windows 8: 

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We copied Apple’s inventions, so now they’re de facto standards, thus patents shouldn’t be enforceable.

Apple’s point is that if you remove the IP distinctions between the two, you remove a key incentive for innovators to innovate. Apple spent billions in research and development to create the iPhone. It didn’t spend that money to create the iPhone’s competition. And this is a point Apple and CEO Tim Cook have hammered home again and again, since the smartphone IP Hundred Years War began.

V Motion Project: Music Video powered by Kinect. They created this piece by hacking the Kinect motion tracking software and integrated it with audio production software, The V Motion Project created a tool that could transform the body’s movements into music. It’s great to see the Kinect technology being used in innovative and creative ways like this and it helps that the music track is pretty cool.

How To Design Technology So It Becomes Natural:
Steve Clayton talks about the drive at Microsoft to embrace what he calls ‘natural user interface’. Clayton, who says his job is to find out what amazing projects the tech firm is working on and share it with the world, takes us through a future-forward vision where gesture, sound and artificial-intuition creates a world that extends the possibilities of our creativity.