Mattias Östergren, commenting on Microsoft’s recent joke of a user research blog post:

They haven’t at all considered what the users really are trying to accomplish by using Explorer. I am quite convinced the no one starts the application just to paste some files just for pastings own sake. Pasting may be the most common user action, but it’s just a means to an end. This kind of data can never reveal the actual user goal.

Had they performed a deeper analysis of the motivations and needs of the users, they would most probably have ended up with a completely different solution. They might have had a solution that wouldn’t be held back by assumptions and limitations made in earlier versions of the application. By building this closely upon the usage of previous version they are constraining their design space severely.

User research is almost “step 0″ of building a great product. The goal of user research is to uncover a list of problems that need to be addressed. Instead, Microsoft did the user research just to validate their own design (or so it seems). They wedged the answers to show how their design is so great.

Instead, they should have written a list of 10 problems that users face when accessing Explorer and iterated Explorer into something that solves those problems.