Bill Higgin’s “the Uncanny Valley of user interface design” discusses why Windows apps should look like Windows and web apps should look like the web. Unfortunately he shuffles the fact that the web app Zimbra intends to replace Outlook into a footnote. He is right that it makes an odd looking web app and I do find our company’s SAP jarring because it’s web based and used to look like a crappy Windows app. I think it’s interesting that the new Netscape browser’s Netstripe theme pulls it in line with current web apps even though it is a web browser. It gives a much stronger mental connection with the content than Firefox’s random bits of color. As a long time Linux user I grew used to inconsistent interface. It didn’t matter to me what it looked like as long as it worked.
Another aspect of the robotic ‘uncanny valley‘ that we’ve already run into is the chrome not matching the intelligence; manufacturers of real looking human skin for robots have found a lack of acceptance because the robots appear to be mentally challenged humans (sorry, I couldn’t find reference for this). In software, this is Microsoft Bob.