I typically use Gmail; I do have a Hotmail account and needed to use that for something the other day. I typed up my new message, and had to hunt for the Send button. It took about 5-10 seconds.
I found the obscurity of the Send button annoying. “There’s got to be a better way to do that,” thought I. Pull up Gmail – no problem finding it. A much smarter UX design. A breath of fresh air, even.
Microsoft seems to really struggle with getting good UX, and it kills me. It’s like being a Minnesota Vikings fan – I really want them to do well, but even when they’ve got something good going, and put together a really awesome thing, they always seem to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. My wife doesn’t use a Windows Phone because of some very specific UX decisions Microsoft made poorly (see “aside” below). I suspect the reason Microsoft can’t get UX right has to do with this image being a little too true: http://www.bonkersworld.net/organizational-charts/
A culture of militant fragmentation manifests itself in their products; their UI’s come out fragmented rather than cohesive. It’s hard to sort out political power plays from earnest pursuit of excellence, so stuff that really should get done gets blocked. And it’s been going on for a loooong time (eg, how far buried ClearType was in Windows XP).
I know there are folks within Microsoft trying to change this. Here’s wishing for the best to them and to the Vikings.
Aside: the Windows Phone UX disaster was that to save a phone number on a new contact, you had to first click “Ok” for the phone number, then click “Save” on the contact. The second step shouldn’t have ever been there. Steve Jobs would have found it before the phone ever released, fired the person who put it in there, and it never would have seen the light of day. Thankfully Microsoft fixed this UX travesty in Mango, but they created an Apple fan in my wife – she returned her Windows Phone and loves her iPhone now.