While the Office applications have increased tremendously in power and added functionality in response to customer needs, the core UI has remained substantially unchanged for nearly 20 years.
That is true that "globally" Office applications' UI has remained similar over the years. But saying it's "substantially unchanged" is just false. Mozillians are probably not the best example of Microsoft Office users, but in a formal professionnal life I used to be the employee of a 140,000 employees company. And that company went/goes crazy with every new version of Office because of the UI changes. Very deep changes were introduced over the years. Floating undockable toolbars, adaptative menus. Some dialogs changed a lot over the years, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. And even sometimes for better first and worse later! Some dialogs were completely revamped several times, causing millions of hours of user headache around the world.
It's a well known fact that Office tools UI is completely inconsistent. Speaking only of WinWord, the UI style of two different dialogs can be so different it's obvious it was designed and coded by different teams without synchronization or overall UI control.
According to our research, people generally are very satisfied with the current version of Office, and the consistency of the UI over the years has been a big part of that.
Again, this is not what I see. People are generally saying that the adaptative menus are a pain in the ass because you never find what you want, that UI changes from one version of Office to the next one are sometimes so unintuitive and/or so unjustified that they have to "learn" each new version even if they use a limited set of features. Companies usually complain that the learning curve of new versions of Office is too long because of the deep UI changes. I remember a change appeared in Office 2000 that turned a 2-clicks-away feature into a 4-clicks-away feature...
How much time users will need to cope with that one? Oh, and I wish people who still work on a 800x600 screen good luck.
When computers were new, and people were just learning how to use them, it was very helpful to have Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint look very similar to each other.
Yes. It was, it is still good for the user to have all text features "look" the same if they behave the same.
Word 2003 has over 1,500 commands, many of which are harder to find.
That's the least he can say...Word 2003 has so many features the average user rarely uses more than 25% of them. But pays for 100% of them. Some features are so hard to find that the user cannot help but wonder if it's done on purpose, to hide something unstable or badly designed. So any change here is highly welcome...
We put those results in “galleries,” so for instance, instead of having to learn how to make something shadowed, or what the aspect ratio is or the percent gray, you just say, "Oh, I like that one," and you pick it, you click it and get it in your document. It's more visual.
In short, Office tools UI will now, finally, suppose you know nothing of Office UI and got no training about it. Because that's what really happens in the real word. Microsoft just needed 20 years to discover that. I am not saying that change is a bad thing - I think it's a good one. But I wonder if this will become the only way to reach a feature in Office 12 or if the "advanced users' mode existing today will remain possible. Has Office 12 a "beginners" and an "advanced" mode for UI?
That means having the UI generally be much less intrusive –without popping things up over the top of where you're trying to work, without toolbars appearing because you inserted a picture, and without task panes coming up automatically
Microsoft created intrusive UI!!!
In general, we wanted too make the UI more user-driven.
That one took me some time to understand it, but I think I finally got what Larson-Green means. It probably means the contextualization of features was pushed to a very high degree. That the current state of the UI depends almost only on the features the user has triggered. I hope it means there is some magic in Office 12 to "understand" from the features a user used in the past the features he/she will probably use in the future. If that's implemented that way, that could be very cool and I really want to see that.
Another design principle was driven by the desire to make it easier for people to discover the capabilities that achieve a desired result. To accomplish this, we contextualized the new UI by taking all the things that were not about authoring documents and moving them out of the authoring space
My experience tells me contextualizing is rarely a good choice... Lotus Notes easily proved that assertion in the past. But as I said in previous item, we'll see.
The main part of the user experience is code-named the “ribbon.” It's the one place you go to find the commands that are all about authoring –creating the document, the presentation or the spreadsheet you're working on. There's no longer a stack of task panes and menus and toolbars to look through. There's just one place to look for commands.
Larson-Green is not a good evangelist, sorry to say... I have no idea what that "ribbon" look like or what it really does after reading his prose.
Another feature is “galleries”
Oh yeah, something like the filter or effect pickers that already existed in Paint Shop Pro 5 released back in 1998?-)
Update: in fact, Office tools already have that... I've always applied pre-defined styles to a table in Word and Excel using a style picker like those "galleries".
A feature code-named “Super Tooltips” integrates Help topics into the product in a new way.
Basically it's the "What's that?" contextual option without having to click, and perhaps with extended content? Wow, I'm impressed :-/
Another feature is the “Quick Launch Toolbar,” which allows you to customize the UI by adding as many commands as you like to a toolbar. It's a place where the user can collect the specific set of commands they use frequently.
I don't understand that since I don't find it very different from what already exists in current version of Office. Can I add to that toolbar a set of style changes with given values for instance? Say "make this text red with a light-grey shadow with a 2px-2px shift and use that italic font" and add one single icon for that to my toolbar w/o having to code a macro?
The user data that we're getting on the new UI suggests that the learning curve is small
Good luck, guys...
We have a compatibility mode that allows people to continue using their old keyboard shortcuts.
Chaos ahead.
No, we don't have a “classic mode”