For several years, Denise Carlevato has studied millions of mouse clicks and keystrokes made by anonymous computer users from all over the world. Her objective: to make Microsoft Office better fit the way millions of people work.
Months before Microsoft rolled out the latest version of its productivity suite, Office 2010, 9 million people downloaded its beta version to test the software and provide feedback. As part of the program, Microsoft collected 2 million comments from beta testers. An additional 600 people participated in Microsoft’s Virtual Research Lab, where Carlevato and her colleagues could observe how people were using new features.
In a sense, it was a massive, controlled crowdsourcing project. That’s just what you have to do to cater to as broad an audience as possible, says Carlevato, who has worked as a Microsoft usability engineer for 10 years.
“We do our darnedest to make sure the features we put into our product are the things people ask for,” Carlevato told Wired.com. “We know from watching them work that they really need it.”
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