The date is special for Diego Baca, Design Director of Windows 11, the new version of Microsoft’s operating system that will be released this Tuesday, October 5.
It is not for less. Microsoft data indicates that Windows 10 is used in 1.3 billion devices, so the launch of Windows 11 is a kind of “D-Day” for Baca, a designer from Peru who spent the months of the COVID-19 pandemic Overseeing the entire design of Windows 11, from the visuals to the user experience, a job he explains consisted of coordinating 45 designers.
As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15 to October 15 and celebrates the contributions of people of Hispanic origin in the United States, we present this interview with Diego Baca, Design Director of Windows 11.
“The goal was for Windows 11 to feel familiar, not to have a huge learning curve, to be super easy to use so that people would feel in control and therefore focused,” explains Baca to Digital Trends in Spanish.
After approximately 18 months in development, Microsoft releases the fourteenth version of its operating system for desktop computers. The most notable novelty is that the iconic Start button appears in the center of the screen for the first time since Microsoft released it in Windows 95. But the changes go further.
The new operating system has a renewed appearance that brings it closer to the visual experience of a mobile operating system (more similar to Android than to iOS), a decision that according to Baca is due to the fact that “for millions of users around the world, their only computer is your phone, so the change contributes to the familiar feeling of Windows 11 ”.
Beyond that simplicity, Baca underlines the adaptability of Windows 11. “It was designed with an operating system in mind that adapts to the way people use their computer.”
In this sense, the snap groups —Templates to accommodate multiple windows that appear when the cursor is positioned over the maximize icon—, which according to account were innovated when Baca and his team thought about how to improve the experience of the millions of users who were forced to work at home in front of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“That function already existed, but we realized that people did not occupy it because it was, let’s say, a little hidden,” he explains. “Now we include it in a very visual way, it was something we learned thanks to the Windows Insiders, their feedback was crucial, we realized that on many occasions, they know Windows better than we do,” he adds.
A similar situation occurs with another of Windows 11’s most productive features: virtual desktops. If in Windows 10 activating them required two clicks, in Windows 11 the task was reduced to only one. “That’s the general idea, everything that people love about Windows 10 is in Windows 11, only that we have simplified it,” Baca said.
Windows 11 reaches its release date with a substantial change for users. The emblematic Start button, which emerged as a way to simplify the use of Windows, now appears in the center of the screen, a movement that in terms of usability does not impact users, but according to Baca favors it in visual terms.
“Windows evolved and went from being an operating system that was used only in offices, now it is used in very small screens or in huge 50-inch monitors or in arrays with three interconnected screens,” he explains. “We put the Start button in the center to make it more accessible, it is no longer in a corner, we believe that the change favors its use,” he details.
Likewise, aware that the change could make some users uncomfortable, Microsoft included the option to return said button to the left of the screen from the Settings menu.
“As a Latino, I am proud to be able to contribute my experience and influence a global product such as Windows 11,” sums up Baca, an ideal professional to promote the participation of other Latinos in technology. He joined Microsoft as the designer of the app from Bing for iPad; 12 years later he was in charge of the design of Microsoft’s flagship product. But his profile is a minority in the tech industry. At Microsoft only 6 percent of employees are Latino and at Google the figure does not exceed 7 percent.
Baca does his part to change the landscape, although sometimes his Spanish betrays him. “I like to go back to my university in Lima and do, I don’t know how to say it in Spanish, community outreach, talking to other Latinos about my career, about how I came to Microsoft, I think it could be helpful for other people who are interested in my profession, “he concludes.