Han-Yi Shaw didn’t like what he saw, and he told Microsoft so. The software giant, by Shaw’s reckoning, didn’t really understand Apple’s platform or how to develop Office for it. Shaw told Microsoft exactly what he thought — and the company responded by agreeing to all of his changes, then hiring him.
That was more than a decade ago. Today, Shaw heads up Microsoft’s Office Design Studio and is the architect of one of the tech giant’s most important innovations in years: Office for iPad.
The product is available now in the App Store as three distinct apps: Word for iPad, Excel for iPad and PowerPoint for iPad. They are free to download, but you won’t get full functionality — such as being able to edit or create new documents — without an Office 365 subscription (which is $99 a year for five installs on mobile devices, plus another five installs on desktops and laptops).
In person, Shaw is enthusiastic and extremely organized. Of all the people I met with at Microsoft’s Redmond, Wash., headquarters to discuss the company’s latest iPad release, no one’s desk or walls were more ordered than Shaw’s. His awards were grouped together by type. Printouts of UI mockups for Office for iPad and worksheets were posted on a cork board in a near-perfect grid.
Shaw’s exacting nature and attention to detail are evident in iPad for Office. Despite working with a team of roughly 200 designers and developers, his fingerprints are all over the touch-friendly software.
“I used to tinker with … even just the spacing between the elements,” Shaw said. “When I hit the sweet spot, I give it to my team and they mass-produce it for all other parts of the product.”
“The details, they really do matter,” he explained.
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