Back in late 2007, Microsoft released the Zune 2.0 software, departing from the horrid Windows Media Player-based experience to a brand new one powered by what seemed to be magic at the time. The UI didn’t feature the familiar factory buttons and spreadsheet-like views Windows users had forcibly become accustomed to; the UI featured smooth animations, to transition from one area of the application to another, and functionality that adapted to how you work -- not vice versa. To make the leap from drab to dazzling, Microsoft created a brand new UI framework named Iris, strangely unrelated to the Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) released a year before.
This morning, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer unveiled new Windows Phone software sporting a brand new tile-based UI, not unlike Zune’s experience. Judging by the similarities between the two experiences and the fact the team responsible for Windows Phone and Zune are one and the same, I think it’s safe to conclude that Windows Phone (7 series) is also powered by Iris.
So what is Iris? Microsoft refuses to officially comment on Iris. Long Zheng documented his discoveries while poking about back in 2007, but little has bubbled up since. While I can’t authoritatively write about Microsoft Iris, I’ll share my notes taken during the disassembly of the Zune software over the next few upcoming posts.