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Show HN: I redesigned the Microsoft employee badge (alp.im)
322 points by aalpbalkan on Feb 17, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 152 comments

* The circle makes it hard to see at a glance if the face matches the badge, this is a big deal.

* The employee number should be on the front, because this is often needed for identifying people who security cant stop (for whatever reason), but are doing bad things.

* Printing on the back is expensive, the badge printers that do this cost often twice as much. Printing color is even more expensive, your talking increasing the cost of the badge by about a third. This also leads to other problems like heavy head wear because of the smart card contact, having to define avoidance areas because of the same and jamming issues with the added complexity of using the card flipper.

* Employment classification (Employee, Intern, Vendor Name, Partner, etc) should be printed in text on the front.

* Smaller companies would be encouraged to avoid printing the company logo or name on the badge, as this tells people where it will work.

* Same with the address, and the cost of replacement and expedience means returning the badge is useless. This wasn't true when Motorola Flexpass badges were first rolled out at MS, but its true now.

* Badge photos need to be standardized for various security reasons.

* Your current badge does already emphasize your first name, its not as prominent on yours as it was on mine, but it changes from time to time as they much with the access control software.

Where I'm coming from: I am a security engineer, I previously worked on physical security management and had started out in the industry at Microsoft. I work on systems that print hard cards for a paying hobby.

PS, I was fired from MS for posting an image of myself online where my badge was clear enough to copy. Might be something to check on.

OK, I'll bite.

- Why does the circle make it harder to see at a glance? This doesn't seem to be true at all.

- If you can't stop someone, you're not going to be able to read the number on the badge. I don't see any reason why your employee number should be on the front. It definitely doesn't enhance security at all. People faking badges can fake numbers too.

- I'm not sure about your points re: cost or smaller employers, I mean, sure, but I can't imagine that cost would be a huge barrier - more likely changing out equipment would be.

- Badget photo backgrounds probably need to be plain, but as long as it's a photo you can be reasonably recognised from, I'm not sure what it matters. Simply by growing a beard you can become pretty hard to recognise from your badge photo from 5 years ago.

- I agree that the employment classification is probably good to have on the badge, but only because of annoying BigCo obsession about it. In practice, I'm not sure why it would matter much. When I worked at a big company it was just a political tool to remind consultants they were inferior.

Why does the circle make it harder to see at a glance?

I think I see what he is saying. It takes my eyes a moment or three longer to "digest" the person I am looking at in the concept examples, and to my non-artistic not-a-photographer mind, it looks like an issue of framing.

Yep, I think that's probably it. When have you seen a person with their head tilted one direction in an ID photo. When is the background any color other than white as well? I think the Ahmet Balkan sample ID at the top of the post would be the most accurate identification photo.

The other thing for me, I think, is the circle matches the shape of a person's face. Obviously I don't think the circle is a face, but it's easier to quickly resolve a circle inside a square, than a circle inside a circle.

(Don't get me wrong, it does look nicer when round.)

The photo is actually very small if you print it on a badge, about 3/4 or 7/8 of an inch (the width of the badge is roughly 2.125 inches).

> - If you can't stop someone, you're not going to be able to read the number on the badge.

Ever heard of cameras?

Ever seen security camera footage?

Ever seen CSI? Enhance!

Sometimes I have to upvote sarcasm :)

1080P security cameras and above are easily available, and likely affordable to a company like MS.

Lighting is typically the bigger issue, but you're right: Microsoft has the resources to do security cameras "right". :)

RFID instead of number?

>I was fired from MS for posting an image of myself online where my badge was clear enough to copy.

I won't ask you to go into any detail that you don't feel comfortable with, but is there more to this? Special circumstances? The above, out-of-context, sounds very... draconian. I'm really just curious.

I really wouldn't be surprised if this really was the primary reason for firing a security engineer. A person who carelessly compromises sensitive information is someone you want as far away as possible from having access to your security systems, not to mention building them.

How is someone's badge security information? Anyone can walk up to the building entrance and see several people's badges on the way, surely security can't depend on keeping those secret.

By that same logic, passwords wouldn't be security information either because anyone could videotape someone typing theirs in at a coffee shop from afar. But, I suspect that's rare because it's really difficult in practice. The purpose of many security policies is to increase the amount of effort an attacker must go through.

I don't know of any company that encourages the display of passwords around their employees' necks.

well, depends if you're concerned with security or appearance of security. Security engineers need to do both.

Sounds unbelievable to me. How is a picture of a card going to mean that you can copy the RFID/chip needed to actually access anything? It would be a first warning/stern telling off event at most.

You don't need to copy the RFID to enter the buildings, you can always tailgate.

I don't need to copy ANYTHING to tailgate.

There is a policy against it. Its kind of lame since the design is well known and lots of photos existed beforehand.

The actual reasons were likely that I didn't ignore problems the company had previously ignored and a falling out with a freshly ex-roommate who went and harassed my company's management until something happened (I was a vendor). I had gotten a TRO on this guy and my company ignored it and ignored the advice of Microsoft management.

In the end everyone agreed to forget the matter and move on. I have since not had issues with working at Microsoft.

Carried a MSFT blue badge for six years.

On the employee number - if security needs it, they can flip the badge around. I needed it once in six years, when I needed to type it into some internal tool.

On the employee status, that is done with badge color. Blue badges are FTE only.

Intern's get Blue as well, but are, for most intents and purposes, considered FTE's.

RE: the employee number - You may not have physical access to the card, e.g. you only have CCTV footage of the employee doing whatever they're doing.

That would be a really high-res CCTV...

It keeps hitting me... If you're doing something wrong, why would you be wearing your badge?

Sorry to hear this happened to you :-/ You have a lot of valid points here. I just wanted to show we probably don't need all those details on the badge and made a proof of concept. From now on, designers can take on and do something better. (I'm not a designer. )

It happens.

One of the interesting things is that I work for a company that for the most part is still small enough to not need badges for people to recognize other employees. We have largely resisted issuing badges with photos because of questions on how to do it while increasing security rather than decreasing it.

> Printing on the back is expensive, the badge printers that do this cost often twice as much. Printing color is even more expensive, your talking increasing the cost of the badge by about a third.

You already have blue vs. green badges, so you have to print color either way.

In most configurations I've seen, the badge is designed so you wear it on a lanyard around your neck (approximately no one actually does this) so it has to be printed front and back anyway since it might get turned around. I'm surprised if printing front and back is a prohibitive expense for Microsoft, land of the free sodas and offices with doors that close. It's not a prohibitive expense for more frugal companies.

> Employment classification (Employee, Intern, Vendor Name, Partner, etc) should be printed in text on the front

Everyone who sees badges already knows the color codes, and no one else needs to know.

Not everyone sees color.

Where I work, we have our picture on BOTH sides. If you carry your badge on a lanyard, half the time the back is showing and the front is hidden.

At Microsoft almost noone wears their badges on lanyards, most employees carry them in their wallets.

There are lanyards and attachments that sorta work this issue out, but in the end it comes down to training employees to keep their badges facing out. This somewhat works for Boeing.

Microsoft employees get a discount at the apple store for showing their badges. Not so much at the MSFT stores...

Edit: note - this is the retail MSFT stores, not the on campus stores in Redmond or Silicon Valley.

Aside from being cheeky, why do Microsoft employees get a discount at the Apple Store?

Microsoft has a program known as Microsoft Prime. The extent of what it covers, I am not 100% sure of. One company in the program is Apple -- that said, companies, rules, and amounts change.

Given I can go to the Stanford Mall and get a discount, then walk a hundred+ yards and not get a discount on a comparable Surface is a bit uneven.

Microsoft employee's get a discount of about 7% iirc by showing their Microsoft Prime card, which is just a 'Passport' card. Many credit unions and other business provide 'Passport' discounts as well.

That sounds about correct. Apple, specifically, is pretty tight on discounts it grants (including educational). Still silly that there is no similar discount at MSFT company retail stores.

I'm not even sure if the prime card is needed. I got a discount on a laptop at an Apple store by just showing them my badge (I don't qualify for Prime because I'm not a Microsoft USA employee).

IBMers get a discount at the Apple Store (online) via a rewards gateway.

Any company that uses something like rewardgateway.com will get discounts at a similar set of places.

Microsoft can't get people to wear their badges visible at all, and you think it's feasible to get people to turn their badges around manually? :)

I don't see what you lose by printing both sides.

Sometimes badges have stuff on the back like card codes, punch centering marks and magstripes that make printing on the back a bad idea.

In Boeing case, its because you are not allowed in many places without a badge somewhere above the waist that is visible. Higher security employers elicit higher security practices from their employees.

Most security cards I've been issued with are laminar - there's a thinner printed front part glued to a thicker RFID back part. So making the card double-sided just means printing two fronts and sticking them on both sides.

Microsoft badges are/appear to be smart cards, not laminar. Easy enough to print on both sides though.

Maybe on campus. Out in the field sites, the security folks will have your arm for lunch if you don't have your badge clearly visible at all times.

> The circle makes it hard to see at a glance if the face matches the badge, this is a big deal.

Why is that? Curiously enough, I know some MS employees and many of them carry their badge in their wallet. In the years I've known them they haven't mentioned anything about problems with security.

Under what scenario would having an ID number be more useful in identifying someone versus just their name combined with their face? And in the example you give of a security officer not having time to stop someone, are they really going to grok a 6, 8, or 10 digit ID instead of the easier to read name?

> Under what scenario would having an ID number be more useful in identifying someone versus just their name combined with their face?


The unique number printed on the card doesn't have to be the employee number, it just has to be unique to each person and stored alongside their employee number.

That retains the ability to uniquely identify people without stopping them (assuming it's not faked) whilst not leaking their employee number.

More importantly:

* the current badges aren't broken (AFAIK); is it really a priority to fix them?

Windows XP is great. Let's just keep shipping that. Forever.

Good idea. I certainly prefer it to Win 8.1.

And these points should justify an ugly badge?

Who said they are justifying an ugly badge, is this a false dichotomy where only the two badge designs exist?

PS, I was fired from MS for posting an image of myself online where my badge was clear enough to copy..

Yeah i seriously doubt that

Well I'll be the constructive voice. I like it.

You should be able to find email address in the corporate directory services, it's not like people are going to memorize them from looking at a badge. We already have business cards or mobile devices w/ NFC if it's necessary to transfer the email address in a persistent form.

Plus having names instead of email serves the more-important purpose of allowing people to more easily socially interact in meetings, social gatherings, etc.

Since it would almost be impossible to completely anonymize the purpose of the badge (especially with the request to return to Microsoft) using the current visual branding certainly beats using the 1988 visual branding.

I can't speak to "Former Metro" branding but it certainly looks pleasing enough.

> We already have business cards or mobile devices w/ NFC if it's necessary to transfer the email address in a persistent form.

Probably not with NFC itself--it'd be somewhat physically awkward to tap a card on a lanyard around your neck against someone's phone.

But since a conference is exactly the sort of situation in which you want to leak contact information promiscuously, putting RFID chips in the cards would work well. Or just putting QR codes on them.

(Doing it with QR codes would actually serve a great double-purpose, if you got the app for it right: you'd say "hold still for a contact photo!" and then get a record of their face and their contact information, associated together.)

One issue with QR code on the badge, you train people to allow others to take a close up high resolution picture of their badges. And possibly getting close enough to get the RFID code off the badge so it can be completely cloned. Sounds like a security nightmare to me. Of course, the RFID can probably be read at a distance, but if so, why do the door plates need me to hold the badge right next to them to open the doors?

Note that the badges are smart cards, not a (comparatively) dumb RFID chip with storage. Thus, they can't really be cloned, anyway.

> Of course, the RFID can probably be read at a distance, but if so, why do the door plates need me to hold the badge right next to them to open the doors?

RFID chips depend on the sensor sending the power for the reply. Low-power sensors require closer contact; high-power sensors can operate from a distance.

many institutions anonymize their badges by instructing the finder to post the badge to a PO box number, or eliding any recovery information and locking lost badges out.

A lot of designers make one big mistake. They design the content too. But content can't be designed.

For example the name. All his designs use short names because they look beautiful. But in real life names can be much longer.

And ofcourse the pictures. It's nice to have round pictures but it is almost impossible to get nice round pictures from every employee.

So when you are designing (and this doesn't only apply to graphic design): test your design using a lot of different content:

  Will it still work with longer names?
  Will it still work with middle names?
  Will it still work with bad / rectangle pictures?

Why is a circle for cropping so controversial? Do some people have square heads?

Its controversial because it takes a lot of effort to get it right. For 50 employees it can be done by hand but not so for over 10.000 employees.

Maybe you could use face detection to get the right crop center but even then there will be a lot of errors and waisted cards.

Most people have a valid ID picture so it's easiest to use that one.

One suggestion when doing address-book related design work is to add names such as Jet Li, Arianna Stassinopoulos, Ho Chi Minh, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Prince (or more appropriate real names) that are annoyingly short or frustratingly long, or otherwise non-standard, such as consisting of three or one components instead of the more conventional two. Better to know in advance of any layout problems you'll face ... :)

Great job putting together a prototype. Although I'm going to list specific complaints, I appreciate the effort in creating and risk in sharing, so good job and thanks.

- I don't follow the circle photo fad. It seems like an unnecessary complication (implementation and design element)

- By moving information to the back, you're assuming that the facilities which create these badges have the ability to do double-sided prints on the badges, and if they have the technical ability that it won't increase the time or work required to print a badge.

- You're assuming that the badge printer can print completely to the edge.

- Removing the "Employee" text and relying on the blue color is an accessibility problem (color-blind people need this information)

- Customizing your badge photo adds security policy complications.

* Almost every badge printer in modern existence prints to the edge. * Printing on the back does present a costly proposition, not only does the printer need a flipper, but you have to use more costly ribbons to do it with.

> Printing on the back does present a costly proposition, not only does the printer need a flipper, but you have to use more costly ribbons to do it with.

Not necessarily. I done some badge printing for a very large organisation about 8 years ago. Our office alone had >2,000 people. I bought both single-sided and duplex card printers. The ones with the duplexing units were only marginally more expensive than the single-sided ones. They all used the same dye-sub ribbon (if it has a duplexer - "flipper" - it doesn't need a special ribbon, it prints one side, flips, then prints the other).

Granted, double sided printing meant each card used twice the ribbon. The dye-sub ribbon was laid out in 5 consecutive panels - C, M, Y, K and UV coat (with an optional sixth foil/fluorescent/hologram panel).

Ultimately, we had our card supplier (a very large smartcard/USIM supplier) pre-print our card backgrounds before cutting the cards and personalising (writing the card certificate) so our remote branch offices could use very cheap printers to print only a low-res photo and text content.

Our printers were <£1k each. They had integrated magstripe encoders and smartcard+contactless interfaces.

Microsoft has bags of money; they're not a small business. They'd be able to set up an in-house printer without blinking. Once you're set up, individual card costs are trivial.

Current Microsoft employee badge has a chip and print on the back, including to the edge printing.

The text on the back (card ID number and such) all comes with the card, Microsoft doesn't print it on.

About the blue color and color-blindness problem...

It depends on the colors badges can be, apart from blue. If they can be yellow or green... that might be a problem because of tritanopia and tritanomaly. But I only know of blue and orange badges. So true... those orange badges might appear red to someone with tritanopia... but he's not going to mistake a blue badge with an orange-red one.

You are still right for the fully achromats out there. But a shading level difference between the orange and the blue badge could be enough. Otherwise, a simple indicative letter is enough (E for employees, I for interns and C for contractors would be more than enough).

Again... if there are more than two colors for those badges (green, yellow, red?) the problem of relying on color to convey information could be more problematic.

You are still right for the fully achromats out there

If you're catering to the extremely rare achromats, there's a heap of accessibility options you should be considering first, including braille for blind people.

> If you're catering to the extremely rare achromats, there's a heap of accessibility options you should be considering first, including braille for blind people.

In the general population, blind people may outnumber achromats, but in the tech worker population, I'd say that relationship is inverse.

An achromat can usually manage to be productive in an office setting, often without alerting others to their condition.

Blind people have it much much harder and thus are less represented at a large tech firm like Microsoft.

Red and green exist for sure (red for "Not really a badge", green for a-dashes if I remember correctly).

Sun badges hung major axis vertical, picture top for employees; major axis horizontal, picture left for contractors.

amazon badges have your alias in Comic Sans, just to troll you.

Qualcomm badges have a large T for contractors, N for non-US citizens, for example. Both are on colored backgrounds so you can tell by color or letter.

I'm fascinated by a separate point that this badge raises: the "Microsoft" logo is now the "Windows" logo.

...and to someone in tech who isn't intimately familiar with the Windows logo's color scheme these days, it could be easily mistaken for some Google thing (though at closer inspection I can tell that the colors are slightly different - but what I'm describing is not a close inspection).

I don't think many people would recognize Google's color theme but not Microsoft's logo.

The "Windows" logo is no longer the four-colour pane, but an all-blue slanted version. Just looking at ms.com at the moment, it seems that 'microsoft' is the only multicolour logo now, with all their other services having monochromatic logos.

Off-topic, but ms.com redirects to morganstanley.com

This isn't really surprising though as a Windows Everywhere strategy seems to prevail. Even when it shouldn't. Some of the products with the name mashed onto them don't even have windows in the sense that the name presumably meant. It seems to me like the Blackberry/RIM naming thing. Edit: just noticed that the logo is the Microsoft logo. The sentiment behind my comment stands, but in this instance parent comment and this one are incorrect.

The photos have two examples of employees with their face at an angle - you can see only one ear of the woman with red hair and one ear of the man with grey hair.

Since these photos serve a purpose (identifying the bearer, not making the bearer feel good about the photo) they probably need to be standardised and use something like passport photo criteria. (Although perhaps gently relaxing those standards).

There's no accessibility or diversity information either. It'd be nice to at last think about the needs of visually impaired users, for example.

But the cards are nice! Nicer than the original example.

i think they were just stock / random photos not straight on photo that they will do in the security office

and what diversity info would you need to show?

Consider the use of braille for the tiny number of people who use it? Use evidence based fonts and colours for readbility?

What happens to people who wear face coverings for religious reasons?

I'm not asking designers to solve all these problems, just to show that they've at least considered them.

Oh god, what is with the stupid "face in a circle"? I get that everybody's following the circle trend, but how does putting a face in a circle make your design more functional?

Also, there's a reason why badges photos are taken from the same angle. It makes it easier to identify you from your photo. It's harder to recognize someone from an odd angle. Same goes for photographing on a white backdrop. Your personal photos have all this distracting scenery to impede identification.

This is not design. Design makes things work better. This is just decoration.

On the note of minimalism the actually Apple badge looks like this. http://cdn-static.cnet.co.uk/i/c/blg/cat/mobiles/jordan-id.j...

Apple didn't invent the ID card. They just reintroduced it and made it sound like the invented it.

Seriously, though, the first thing I thought when I clicked the link was, "Oh, Apple's badge flipped, with iOS 7's circular image mask."

Google+ went with the circular profile photo mask way before iOS, and I think Path was doing it even before Google.

Apple definitely didn't invent circular image masks with iOS 7 either. :)

They're all derivative of caveman wall art where profiles were drawn in circles for others to see.

Nah, that's just what the cavemen wanted people to think, and all the hipster caveman fanboys ate it up. It was the Neanderthals who came up with the idea, they just never commercialized it. But walk around the Mission and ask random hipsters about it and they'll all be like, "the cavemen invented this" and "the cavemen did it first." What a bunch of sheeple!

I love it, but I have one suggestion: show the employee's name on both sides.

For some reason, I have a hard time remembering names (but never forget faces), so I often glance at badges to try and remind myself what the person's name is. It's always a bummer when the badge is flipped around and I can't tell who it is.

Remarkable how much the old badge [1] resembles the original Nintendo Game Boy [2].

[1] https://ahmetalpbalkan.com/blog/static/images/2014/02/old-fr...

[2] http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c6/Nintendo_...

I don't like it. Its look is too reminiscent of Google's design language, especially their 'circles' in Google+. The look is very soft, while Microsoft's design language (formerly metro) is much more modern.

FWIW the IBM badge has:-

* The 8-bar company logo

* The country of issue

* Name

* Photo

On the back is a magstripe (not really used any more) and central return address in case it is found.

It has an RFID for door access and to store cash for vending-machines and the restaurant.

No employee number anywhere. I have to remember that (along with the passwords for seventy-six different systems.)

Contractors have a yellow background for the name.

ID cards have to be on display at all times, so many wear them on a lanyard or clipped to a belt loop.

As an employee that has never been to a large IBM facility I had no idea it worked in stores or for vending machines. The only use it has is opening the front door. I don't wear it in the office and now one has complained yet.

Should have said that all of it will vary by site/country.

First names aren't necessarily the 'most important' -- especially for names that aren't of European origin.

Employee number isn't sensitive information.

I'm a fan of the colors and typeface, but doesn't Microsoft's design style push for more of a rectangular/angular look all around?

Cool, but they probably won't be able to adopt that design. Badges like this are made with special printers which have a minimum margin which is why most/all badge you see out there have that ugly white margin around them.

I’m fairly certain that Microsoft can afford full-bleed printing for badges.

They already use them - OP didn't show an example badge where they're used. If you have single-person access to secure areas, the white area around the background color will be red.

Full-bleed dye-sub panel ribbon printers aren't all that expensive - under £2k for a current model Evolis printer.

And most card suppliers doing 5k+ cards will offer card pre-printing services, allowing you to have sheets of [blue, green, whatever color] cards printed and die-cut, leaving you to simply print the photo and text.


I like Google's badges:

* Dual-sided, so it's never facing the wrong way out. (No dual-sided printer required, they are glued onto the underlying RFID card.)

* RFID, so there is no sensitive information on the badge.

* The face takes up most of the badge, so it's easy to check if it looks reasonable when someone is following you through the door.

* The face is 3D, which is just plain cool.

* The first name is larger than the last name, making it a little easier to glance over at someone's badge when you've forgotten their name. (This happens to me with frightening regularity.)

I was an intern at MS in 2001, and this weekend when I was going through my box of old memorabilia, I found a badge identical to the "current" badge.

Probably time for a redesign...

I'm sure a badge redesign is in the works. I'd be surprised if there isn't a new badge (at least with updated logo) by this time next year.

Depending on how much it ends up changing, old employees might not be forced to get a new badge. In that case, it'll eventually be a funny way to differentiate employees from before/after the "Reorg/Satya Epoch" haha.

we kept the old mag-stripe badges for a year or so until the current system was rolled out everywhere, so you had to carry both.

This makes me think large companies like this should invest just a tad bit more in taking quality photos. Ditch the DMV backdrop, on-camera flash and low quality photo and invest in a couple umbrellas and just an entry-level dSLR. As often as they are seen, you should make people feel good about it.

Did you consider left aligning the name? By centering the name, you're not letting the eyes get trained on where to look instinctively. Someone named "Jim" has a much different starting point than "Mohammed".

Also, I'd have made the last name much smaller.


The colorful window logo isn't the Windows logo. Microsoft recently changed their logo to that in 2012.

Trying to "think like a user", with the exception of updating the logo, the badges are identical. Nobody would really notice the change, let alone care about the text alignment on their security badge.

Take this as constructive criticism, this is the kind of thing that you can waste a lot of time on without scoring any points with your users/customer/management.

Thinking like a user, one badge says to me this company doesn't take design or their image seriously and is probably a terrible place to work. The newer badge does just the opposite and acts almost as an advert for the company.

The badge re-design has to take into account requirements and it does just that. It's a very nice re-skin and to say nobody would really notice the change is neither constructive nor accurate. The re-design looks to me much more friendly and modern compared to the current stodgy corporate version.

Not to be a contrarian, but am I the only one who finds the entire concept of badges antiquated to begin with. With today's technology, why not use RFIDs or a smartphone that automatically signs you in, alerts security if your tag is invalid etc. Wouldn't that be a lot easier to use, more secure, and probably cheaper too?

With phones being constantly upgrades, lost, replaced, and coming in a variety of operating systems, not to mention forgotten at home, left uncharged/requiring power, can't be easily inspected in a standard manner by security... smartphones are definitely not the way forward.

And an RFID is just another thing to carry, same as a card (ID cards often have RFIDs in them anyway)

I've never worked at a place that didn't have RFID tags that opened the doors. This is old old tech and doesn't require a smartphone at all. One place I worked you needed special permission to be there after core hours so your RFID tag didn't open the door unless you got permission from security then they enabled your RFID tag. Another place you had to sign in after hours so all RFID tags didn't work after hours and you had to go in the front door through security.

Badges are still not antiquated, they convey other information once you are in the door.

Well not everyone has a smartphone, and even then not all smartphone support RFID. So you'd need some sort of backup RFID container, maybe add in a photo to add another layer of security, and hey, how about for convenience we make it a badge? :)

Microsoft employees obviously need to spend more time rafting. That's what I'm getting from this.

So what you've changed is to center the information (not a big deal, move a whole load of useful information to the rear and use a more up to date logo.

Seems pointless. Microsoft have updated their logo four times in the past four years. People update their favourite photo once every couple of months. It also require that corporate directory services allow updating of photos significantly more often, just so people can have a photo of themselves they like. Finally you've ignored practicalities of printing logos. Sounds like a typical design with no understanding of the limitations involved or requirements.

Most of the offence here seems to be because you didn't like the photo (because it's passport / security style instead of Faceboook / Instagram esque?) and the 8 bit colour printing. Both of these are intrinsic to the requirements caused by printing badges.

By the way, the logo was valid in 2012, not just 1998 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft#Logo

- The photo is the most important feature of the badge; for security reasons, it should be as large as possible.

- First and last names are not as important as one's email address

- The logo is a security risk; should a badge go missing, it's a clue as to where to (mis)use the badge.

It's already there on the current M'soft badge.

Allowing users to put custom photos on their badge is also a huge security risk.

The only thing I don't like here is the way the last name is printed. I'm all for emphasizing first names, but there's something about the way it's printed that make me read it as a title. Like Ahmed is a Balkan at Microsoft.

So why is the employee id sensitive information?

Why do you care that your badge picture is ugly? Seriously? Do you also expect to take a picture of you kayaking at the lake to the DMV?

Great job! I'm a big fan of minimalistic design which unfortunate to say most of MS products aren't. Looking forward to more design ideas from you :)

God I hate badges.

Cattle wear numbers on their ears. Prisoners too, in some prison systems (but not all). How can people accept to wear a number on them, I don't know. Even a name; what's a name? I resent being defined by my birth name. I have many names, pseudonyms, handles, etc.

I'm not an employee so I never get a badge with my picture on it; when I go to clients' sites they usually give me a "guest" badge that I promptly put in my coat's pocket, only to give it back at the end of the day.

It's never happened that I needed it for anything anyway (and that includes Microsoft (France)).

The alternatives are:

Letting random people wander your building, including competitors.

Funneling everyone through some centralized reception area, so most doors become exit-only.

Being small enough so that everyone knows everyone, and everyone knows "the new guy" immediately.

Not true. Access control is different from having people wear badges.

Access control may be a necessity (although in most companies here in France if you can tell a good story to the receptionist she'll let you in without even checking for an id; and if you show an id that's been obsolete for over 15 years, such as mine, and which would be, for this reason, trivial to fake, she'll also let you in with a big smile and a joke about how different you look from your picture).

But wearing a badge? Voluntarily? At all times? In nuclear reactors, perhaps (I've never been there); but in most other businesses, I find this ridiculous and insulting.

It sounds like your company is happy with my first or second alternative. Many aren't. Hence badges.

I don't understand why a badge is necessary in the first place. Won't NFC on a phone suffice?

In many settings where it is unlikely that everyone will know everyone else, badges are used so that the absence of a badge signals someone who probably doesn't belong. This is why you're typically required to wear them in a visible place i.e. on a shirt pocket, lanyard, or on your waist.

Smartphone NFC is also orders of magnitude more complex and fragile compared to traditional RFID tokens for opening doors. Saying that NFC would "suffice" is nonsensical given that blank RFID-enabled badges run approximately $3 when you're buying in bulk.

NFC requires that everyone who uses the system (incl. cleaning staff, contractors, etc) has a compatible smartphone. It is braindead stupid to assume that all of the people who need to open doors in your building:

1) own smartphones which are 2) not iPhones 3) always charged 4) not experiencing a glitch 5) never left on a desk or in a bag

Keyfobs are a common alternative to badges and similarly cheap. Because they are extremely simple single-purposes devices, they are, like badges, many times more reliable than smartphones as access tokens.

However, most large corporations are going to use badges because 1) no need for separate name tags, 2) quick and easy visual indication of who belongs and who doesn't, and 3) you're not as likely to take it off and leave it somewhere where it could get stolen or you might not have it when needed compared to keys or a phone.

>However, most large corporations are going to use badges because 1) no need for separate name tags, 2) quick and easy visual indication of who belongs and who doesn't, and 3) you're not as likely to take it off and leave it somewhere where it could get stolen or you might not have it when needed compared to keys or a phone.

There's no reason you can't use both. I've also never worked anywhere that didn't have RFID tokens to open the doors, they can't be very expensive and they are reusable.

You can always ask someone for their badge (either to see it, to verify they work there, or to scan it to ensure it's valid). I'd feel lots more uncomfortable asking someone for their phone.

I've challenged plenty of people trying to tailgate (either on me, or someone ahead of me). I was not shy about calling people on the fact they weren't displaying a badge; we had leaks where I was working, and it wasn't much fun.

Most people took it well. Of the ones who didn't, all but one were non-employees trying to sneak in.

> Won't NFC on a phone suffice?

Cost. Now everyone who needs badge access _also_ must have a smart phone.

I guess you could make it a condition of employment, then you'll probably pay each employee a stipend to have a phone and that's probably more expensive per employee than a badge.

And you'll run into guys like me who really don't _want_ to carry a phone 24x7 and get surly when we're told 'it's a condition of employment'.

Not everyone has a phone, or a phone supporting NFC. (Microsoft employs >100,000 people) Badges are a low cost solution which don't require charging and can be easily issued or replaced. Additionally, badges display pictures, so people wandering around the office can be visually checked by security. (No need to scan their badge)

Badges convey a lot more info once you are already in the building, such as "I'm allowed to be here" or "I'm allowed to be in this sensitive area" or "I'm allowed to be here without an escort"

In a medical setting they are very important. They convey the person's title (RN, LPN, DR, Janitor) and name. That way the janitor doesn't try to pass themselves off as a doctor and offer you medical treatment. Same as why patients wear their name on their wrist, in case charts get mixed up the medical staff checks the patient's name before giving medical treatment, the patient can't be trusted to verify their name. They could be drugged, senile, or otherwise confused or just not listening. I've learned from food service people will say "yes" to just about any question without actually listening to you. "Did you order the such and such?" "yes" brings them the such and such "this isn't what I ordered."

The beauty of a badge is that you can meet someone, forget their name when they tell you, and by looking at the badge (assuming they have it properly displayed), not have to be embarrassed that you've forgotten their name. It also serves a security purpose, but that's secondary to the identification purpose.

That would make ensuring my phone has a charge before leaving for work in the morning all that more annoyingly important.

Every Microsoft employee is now on the Windows 9 development team?

That doesn't seem right.

I literally couldn't care less about the design of a MS employee badge.

I'd make the name larger. Not everybody has 20 year old eyesight.

This particular design doesn't take a lot of skill to create, and I'm not sure the author knows what problem to solve. The triviality of the redesign should be embarrassing to the creator.

Spending time to redesign something that doesn't matter. There is an MS joke in here somewhere.

The badges wont look like this with the standard security camera mugshot that security offices use and the picture is probably too small to make them happy as well.

Other than that nice job. I don't think it will be implemented.

remember those OLD sites MS HAD - they got a lot of heat on HN and they got removed...

Nice! Now put some QRCodes on it so people can get bitcoin donations.

Oh, and NFC tag for auto check-in, computer log in, cafeteria, snacks, etc.

Just as an off topic, not even microsoft employees use outlook.

This is a real company man, holy crap!, spending your own time redesigning the your employers badge is really quite sad.

Microsoft is known for hiring young gullible people and indoctrinating them with the idea that MS is a good company rather than the reason the software industry was held back for decades, using illegal tactics. If it could have killed open source it would have.

It's a pretty badge, but unfortunately it's a security risk. Putting identifying information on there is an opening for social engineering attacks. The employee name and anything tying it to Microsoft shouldn't be on there. Really, just the photo and badge id (not the employee ID) should be there. If there's a "return to" address, it should be a nondescript PO box that's not in Redmond.

Edit: Also, the employee number shouldn't be on there for the same reason.

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