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Microsoft GUI Software IT

Office 12 Exposed 594

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the bread-and-butter dept.
damieng writes "The Programmers Developer Conference (PDC) has unveiled the user interface for Microsoft Office 12. Bearing more than a passing resemblance to Aqua and brushed metal looks from Mac OS X the menus now appear to operate more like a tab popping-out the right toolbar instead of a sub-menu."
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Office 12 Exposed

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  • Office Vista? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nuclear Elephant (700938) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @10:16AM (#13546897) Homepage
    I wonder if they're going to codename it Office Vista, in keeping with common versioning practices.
    • by Gaima (174551) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @10:20AM (#13546943)
      A more interesting question is, are they going to have 7 versions of Office too?
      • No just seven components:

        Outlook, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Publisher, Access and Frontpage.
      • Re:Office Vista? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by LLuthor (909583) <lexington.luthor@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @10:34AM (#13547108)
        Don't they already?
        1. Professional Enterprise Edition
        2. Professional Edition
        3. Small Business Management Edition
        4. Small Business Edition
        5. Student and Teacher Edition
        6. Standard Edition
        7. Basic Edition
      • by cashman73 (855518) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @11:11AM (#13547495) Journal
        7 versions of office might actually work, or perhaps better yet, 7 versions of Clippy, representing different demographic subtypes:

        • Southern Clippy: "I see y'all are tryin' to write a lett-uh! Do ya need some help?"
        • Ghetto Clippy: "Looks like you be tryin' to write a letter! Maybe we can help ya out, bitch!"
        • British Clippy: "I see you are trying to write a letter. Let's work on that together, but right after our afternoon tea."
        • Chinese Clippy: "I see you're trying to write a letter. Sorry, that option is not available to users of Windows Vista Starter Edition. Not to mention that the Communist party has banned communication anyways."
        • Australian Clippy: "Ya tryin' to write a letter, mate! Alright, let's get started!"
        • Iraqi Clippy: "Are you trying to write a letter bomb? Let me help you. First, what national leader do you want to target today?"
        • by athakur999 (44340) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @12:35PM (#13548274) Journal
          Ricer Clippy: "Yo, I see you're writing a paper. It'd look mad tight if you changed the font of the title to Wing Dings and made it bright red."
        • by mr_gerbik (122036) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @01:10PM (#13548609)
          You needed Clippy for that last post...

          "I see you are trying to write a joke. I'm sorry, you do not appear to have the humor component installed."
        • by mforbes (575538) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @02:10PM (#13549238)
          All of you forgot the dreaded Jewish Mother Clippy: "Oh, so you finally decide to write! What took you so long? It's not like your father and I have years left with you, you know! And when am are you gonna get married and give us some grandkids?!"
    • by Alaren (682568) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @10:27AM (#13547033)

      "...in keeping with common versioning practices."

      Now there's a hole with no bottom. It's like a song where you point to the audience and they comlpete your sentence:

      I wonder if they're also going to spend vast amounts of time on changing the interface and rearranging the menus, requiring 95% of its user base to relearn everything they already know without providing anything resembling additional functionality, "...in keeping with common versioning practices."

      I wonder if they're going to implement some kind of DRM no one cares about, so that even though we all know Word is still just a word processor, we're all forced to upgrade in order to open files our boss "protected" on his brand new PC, "...in keeping with common versioning practices."

      I could go on and on...!

      But let's face it. The average requirements and usages of word-processing software have not really changed in five years or more. We hit true WYSIWYG and haven't seen a real change since, but they keep revamping the interfaces and tweaking the DRM and releasing it as "new versions."

      Wait... did I just describe the state of word processors, or the state of enterprise software in general? I can never keep track.

      • by Rude Turnip (49495) <(valuation) (at) (gmail.com)> on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @10:32AM (#13547095)
        "We hit true WYSIWYG and haven't seen a real change since,"

        Not with Word we haven't. I still can't print the exact same Word file on two different printers and get the same pagination. Thank God we're switching to PDF-based prepress systems to sort of eliminate this problem. If I'm in a rush and this problem occurs, I tell the support staff to just fudge the layout (insert carriage returns, screw with margins, whatever) to make it work so I can get something out the door.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @11:22AM (#13547607)
          I still can't print the exact same Word file on two different printers and get the same pagination.
          That's because Microsoft doesn't have WYSIWYG, and it looks like they either don't understand what it is, or they're not even trying to develop it. The best Microsoft has produced so far is WYGIWYS (What You Get Is What You'll See). First you have to tell their software what printer you have. Now that they know that, they can determine what it will look like when printed (on that particular printer only!) and know what to show you on screen. Switch printers and they change the on-screen look to match. They have it exactly backwards.

          Some of you Microsoft apologists will disagree with the above, but you can easily verify this. Try to do a print preview in Word before you set up a printer on the machine. It won't let you! Why? Because they need to know the hardware to know what the hardcopy will look like. True WYSIWYG is device independent, i.e. they print it to match the on-screen look not the other way around as Microsoft does.

          Why is this important? Amongst many other reasons, we need to know when we email someone a document that it will print out on the other guy's printer (most probably a different model than ours) exactly as it was meant to. Anything less is pathetic at this point.

          AC
        • by Overly Critical Guy (663429) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @11:55AM (#13547895)
          This is why OS X's use of a PDF-based graphics model was such a good idea. What you see on screen is how it's going to look when you print it (further solidifying the presence of Macs in the publishing industry). The Windows graphics model in 2005 is just embarrassing.
          • by guaigean (867316)
            In all fairness there is more than one application for publishing on Windows. You can use PDF if you like, Post Script, OpenOffice, etc. While I'm assuming you meant MS Office, don't discount the multitude of options. I used to use a Mac, they can be useful, but the user base has far too many zealots (even than *nix) for my taste.
        • Duh!

          Word is a word processor, not a page layout program. Though it does provide page layout features, it's not Word's primary focus.

          It always bugs me when people confuse the basic purpose of programs. If you want page layout, use Publisher, or PageMaker, or InDesign.

          Word is designed to make content look good on the printer you're using, not fit a design into the limiations of your printer. Honestly, that's what Microsoft makes Publisher for, because Word isn't designed to do that.
      • by kfg (145172) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @10:46AM (#13547231)
        . . .requiring 95% of its user base to relearn everything they already know. . .

        Don't be silly. Everyone knows the reason not to change to OpenOffice is to avoid retraining.

        . . .did I just describe the state of word processors, or the state of enterprise software in general?

        They're starting to run out of chrome and tailfins. Now they're starting to put tits on the squid.

        KFG
        • by Mignon (34109) <satan@programmer.net> on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @11:32AM (#13547704)
          Now they're starting to put tits on the squid.

          I'm going to give you credit [slashdot.org] for this expression, which I like better than "jump the shark." Since it's got the word "tits" in it, it's not going to go TV or NY Times mainstream any time soon.

          • by kfg (145172) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @12:35PM (#13548279)
            Well, I see that if you Google on "tits on a squid" my original use is all that shows up, so I guess it's "mine." I promise not to sue anyone who uses it though, unless they put an "i" or a "G" in front of it. I admit it, I could use 35 mil, and I'd settle for dollars or euros, not pounds.

            The NY Times can substitue the politically correct euphemism "Feminine mammilian secondary sexual characteristics superimposed onto a coleoidean companion," or "Fmsscsoacc" for a snappy and easily pronouncable acronym.

            It's not really a replacement for "jump the shark" though. It means something a bit different from a differenct point of view.

            It refers to adding a powerful attractor to something that isn't otherwise very attractive; and may even be innately repulsive, but whose actual value and usfulness is, ummmm, "questionable."

            And to a certain extent it'll work too, especially as displayed on the sales floor the squid is all dressed up in a Wonderbra(tm) and a tight blouse unbuttoned just so. The instinctual response to reach out and fondle will be very strong.

            Of course, sooner or later, after you get it home and out of the shrink wrap, you'll start to realize you're getting all hot and bothered by feeling up a squid, at least if you've reached the primate level of evolution. That still leaves the problem with management.

            "Jump the shark" is the "consumer" point of view phrase for an attractor having lost its attractiveness.

            B.F. Skinner already coined the phrase for this from the marketers point of view. He noted that you could train a pigeon to do extrordinary things, so long as you never broke the task/reward cycle. If you did that the pigeon in question would simply ignore all further attempts to train it to do anything at all.

            He called this "losing your pigeon."

            How apropos.

            KFG
      • by mikael (484)
        It's just Microsoft marketing...

        Windows 95/NT was marketed on the premise that it eliminated all the confusion of having different UI's for every text based application.

        Windows XP was marketed on the premise that the user could customize the desktop to their suiting, and developers could provide custom skins for their applications.

        Now we have completed a whole cycle, and now every developer provides their own GUI style for their application.
      • by aaronl (43811) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @11:12AM (#13547507) Homepage
        Publisher is WYSIWYG, but *definitely* not Word. Not only can you not necessarily print the document with the same formatting on another printer, but Word will do reflows based on what printer driver you have, what you selected, version differences between computers, and all sorts of other things.

        WYSIWYG is a terrible way to do documents anyway. You shouldn't be spending time making it look right, you should spend it writing the silly thing. I encourage people to look into things like LaTeX whenever I have the chance. It just works so much better for anything more than a quick note or memo. You get consistent and proper layout every time on better software than Word.

        Word processor requirements haven't really changed since WordStar. All most people need to do is write something up quickly, and print it. If you're doing layout in a word processor, you've already screwed up. That is not what they are good at, and that's why publishers use things like PDF, TeX, etc.
      • WYSIWYG? Hardly. it is more:
        WYSIWYP -What you see is why you're Pissed!
  • ewww (Score:2, Informative)

    by jon787 (512497)
    thats ugly looking, seriously. Although I'm not found of the OSX interface either.
    • Re:ewww (Score:2, Insightful)

      by donnyspi (701349)
      Ok, so the parent doesn't like the interface so he's modded as "Flamebait"? That's ridiculous.
    • Re:ewww (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ergo98 (9391) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @10:32AM (#13547093) Homepage Journal
      thats ugly looking, seriously. Although I'm not found of the OSX interface either

      It's not the look that really matters - we've gone through endless cycles of what looks "neat", skinnable apps, and now 3D spinning apps (though I find it hilarious that the brushed aluminum look is being attributed to Apple. I used brushed aluminum on my first website about 15 years ago. It's hardly a unique appearance).

      What is really interesting, however, is that they fundamentally changed the usability of the application - the manner in which toolbars look and layout has changed, as have many of the other user-interaction elements. This is something that Microsoft has been very hesitant to do, as one of the reasons people stick with Office through the versions is consistency - Drop Office XP in front of someone who used Office 95 a decade ago, and they'll largely find it the same (just with more/better features).

      With Microsoft significantly changing things, they have the risk of it being such a schism that people seriously evaluate the option of going to Open Office or other alternatives. If your users are going to need training, and are going to bitch and complain about their cheese moving, then you might as well re-evaluate the whole thing.
      • Re:ewww (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Anm (18575) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @11:47AM (#13547820)
        15 years ago, you say? Huh. [google.com] Where did you get your time machine?

        Anm
      • Re:ewww (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Malc (1751)
        It looks like they're trying to be consistent with the UI going in to Vista, which makes a lot of sense. Also, do you think there is going to be a lot of people upgrading to Office 12, or do you think the majority will get it on their new Vista system?

        What I am noticing with both these screen shots and my experience with Vista is how much of the UI is now being taken up by things like toolbars and additional window panes. I think 1280x1024 is going to be a little on the small side. This is the optimal re
    • Re:ewww (Score:3, Insightful)

      I can't see it because the site is now down, but if it's like the Mac version of Office, it will have a style window with dynamic transparency which I find extremely useful. If you're using a source document behind your window, the style window (and other windows) will gradually become transparent so you can see through them - and when you move to use it (for changing a style), it goes opaque again. OSX has had very useful/functional features like this for years.
    • Re:ewww (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dolda2000 (759023)
      I find it interesting how people are complaining about desktop Linux being inconsistent with different programs using different toolkits.

      Windows is just as bad, if not worse, since every other software vendor decides to write their own toolkit, just for the sake of it. Hardly two different programs look the same. I'd say desktop Linux is absolutely consistent when compared to any given Windows desktop.

      The most interesting thing about this is precisely Office. I find it amazing that even Microsoft themse

  • by theotherlight (904426) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @10:18AM (#13546918)
    ...but it looks as though they've thrown every bit of GUI common practice and standardization out of the window.
    • I'm still waiting for Coral to load the images, but at risk of being proven completely wrong, is it possible that the throwing out of "standardisation" is because of new standards for Vista?

    • by xtracto (837672)
      I do not know, but until now I have not seen any program which menu *really* makes sense. Not even the OSS systems.

      Specially int the Office programs (Word, Excel, etc etc) which have a hundred different options hidden inside the submenus. I think it is time to think on a new approach like the Search-dont-sort google approach but for menus... that way instead of going deep into the sub menu mess you would only need to select a specific command with one click acording to what you are selecting.

      As an example,
      • What's really needed instead of configurable toolbars or ones with lots of options is a most-recently-used bar. So I could have an empty bar with Spotlight style search, and I type in "font c" and pick "font color" item. Or select it from the menu. Then it's on my recently used bar until it gets pushed off.

        Really for most documents I only use a few tools, and I use them a lot. But these change over time (drafting, editing, proofing, etc) but I'm WAY too lazy to only configure the bar with JUST those few
    • ...which is not necessarily a bad thing.
    • by bedroll (806612) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @10:42AM (#13547188) Journal
      Don't fault them for trying to better their UI. When you use it and it doesn't work for you, then seek alternatives. If it doesn't work for most people, they'll switch back, but you'll be able to fault them then.

      Do remember that their office suite competes in a market that sees little innovation, because little is needed. This means that in order to maintain dominance they must either provide a technically superior product, provide a better user interface, or lock down file formats. Technical superiority is debatable, they may or may not do that already. Locking down file formats is what we DON'T want them to do. That leaves UI for competition. If they don't change it up enough then products like WordPerfect or OpenOffice.org will catch up with them in the UI and make it so that they have to compete via the other methods. Since technical superiority will probably always be debatable, it leads them back to locking down file formats... and we still don't want that.

      Anyhow, if anyone can rewrite the rules of UI and get away with it, it's the people with most of the market share. They happen to be it.

      • Mixed messages (Score:5, Insightful)

        by truthsearch (249536) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @12:04PM (#13547986) Homepage Journal
        For decades Microsoft has been telling developers what they consider to be best practices: color combinations, window behaviors, button actions, etc. However, they contradict them with their own software. The best example is the file open/save dialog. They tell developers to use the one built into the OS so every app is consistant. Yet with each release of Office they use custom dialogs so they don't match any other.

        So should they keep changing the UI? Maybe. But they frustrate users when every app on the same system acts differently. Generally the desktop should determine the UI characteristics and the apps should share them. Upgrade the desktop and the UI for all apps gets updated. The hodge-podge of user interfaces presented by Windows confuses and frustrates users.

        The first rule of good user interface design is to be consistant.
        • Re:Mixed messages (Score:3, Interesting)

          by man_of_mr_e (217855)
          Actually, MS says to use the standard dialogs so that that you're consistent with the OS. The thing is, Office is usually a prototype for the next OS dialog, so whatever goes into office eventually goes into the OS too, and if you're using the standard dialog, you get that when the OS does as well.
    • by aussie_a (778472) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @10:43AM (#13547196) Journal
      it looks as though they've thrown every bit of GUI common practice and standardization out of the window.

      This is how improvements to user interfaces can be brought about. In theory, Microsoft had a good GUI with Word. In practice, it was a complicated, bloated piece of shit that was a nightmare to try to use, especially if there were more then one user using it.

      It appears that Microsoft has taken the complaints of users (well, complaints I've had for quite some time anyway) and worked on a new GUI that addresses these concerns. There's no reason the GUI should look the same it did back in Word95. [rinet.ru]

      One of my big problems is that the toolbar is too complex. There are too many submenu's, trying to customize it so it displays relevant things (and keeping it's settings which was always buggy) was always a chore. The whole "let's hide most of the menu in the drop-down menu" thing was annoying. Now with it being in the toolbar represented via graphics, with a very small amount of parent menus, I'll be able to find what I want much more easily. This is a good thing(TM).

      Is it different? Sure. Will some people be confused? Definitely. Is the difference a great enough improvement to deal with the confusion? IMO, most definitely.

      Now if only they'd do something about those damn Virus-writer (sorry, "Macros") and make it less bloated and buggy.
    • by DrXym (126579) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @10:48AM (#13547255)
      Just like Apple did. Quicktime 4.0 introduced the "brushed metal" look, as well as a bunch of non-native widgets and consequently occupied a prime position in the http://www.iarchitect.com/qtime.htm [archive.org]">Interface Hall of Shame.

      Remember that it was Apple who sat on their high horse and said that every app look, feel and behave consistently. It made sense too. But then for reasons best known only to theirselves, decided that consistency was boring and have been changing UIs from one release to the next ever since. And each time there is more and more of that wretched "brushed metal".

      Microsoft has occupied a peculiar middle ground. You can always bet for example that MS Office will dump whatever look and feel was used previously and then there will be a few years where every app tries to emulate the new look before the cycle repeats. For a while, apps could pick up the new look by using the common controls but even the common controls look antiquated these days and are full of horrible hacks for backwards compatibility.

      The worst offender of them all is Unix (including Linux) where there are multiple competing widget sets and multiple competing themes. It's a wonder the platform survived before GNOME & KDE considering the combined might of IBM et al had come up with the shittiest widget set ever - Motif. Even these days with UI guidelines, and just two (!) predominant widget sets - QT & GTK apps do not look or behave closely enough to one another.

      The one light at the end of the tunnel is most platforms now offer a theme engine so apps can look consistent even if they have their own notion of widgets (e.g. Java or Mozilla). It's just too bad that Apple and Microsoft see fit to keep the theme engine proprietary and even ignore it themselves when it suits them. I also wish that QT & GTK would share a common theme engine so that with a flick of a switch all apps, regardless of what C / C++ API is on top would render in the same way.

      • by DrXym (126579) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @10:50AM (#13547283)
        Corrected link - apparently Slashdot doesn't like archive.org URLS.

        http://web.archive.org/web/20001203002400/http://w ww.iarchitect.com/qtime.htm [archive.org]

  • RTFA? (Score:5, Funny)

    by thermopile (571680) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @10:18AM (#13546924) Homepage
    Not a single comment and the site is alread slahsdotted. sigh.

    But this is an interesting trend: Apple has monopolized the headlines recently. ArsTechnica is all about Apple, Slashdot can't seem to get enough of them, and now Microsoft is emulating its Apple product?

    What's next, Intel Processors branded with "Apple Outside" stickers on them?

  • This is important (Score:4, Interesting)

    by moonbender (547943) <moonbender@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @10:20AM (#13546940)
    This is important because Office is often one of Microsoft's first vehicles for new GUI themes and functionality. It's also influential, many Windows developers will try to emulate the style Microsoft introduces with Office - presumably because it's known to users, and they consider it modern. (Too bad the site is already slashdotted.)
    • by DrXym (126579) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @11:37AM (#13547742)
      The sad part is that people have to copy the behaviour since Microsoft sees fit to keep them proprietary. This might keep the likes of Infragistics and Stingray in business but it's a waste of time for everyone else.


      It seemed for a while that the "common controls" would allow apps to pick the new look and feel of any changes introduced by Microsoft, but the common controls are so antiquated that this is no longer the case. Apps don't even look native in XP using the common controls unless they ship with a special XP manifest file.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @10:20AM (#13546942)
    Why do fancy graphics always get higher priority than usability?
    • by Swamii (594522) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @10:55AM (#13547330) Homepage
      Users like it. True story: I spent 2 weeks adding some great new features and usability enhancements to my app. I spent 5 minutes changing the icons used in the app to nices ones. After deployment, the first 5 things I hear from our users is, "Wow, the icons look great!"

      Never underestimate the importance of a beautiful-looking user interface. I'm especially talking to you, GIMP devs!
    • Because Office hasn't been "missing" much functionality for about ten years now, yet MS still needs to get people to buy the new version. Office 97 had all the functionality ever needed by most users.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @10:20AM (#13546944)
    Coming soon: Office Nano - productivity tools for managing post-it notes.
  • by rodsoft (892241) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @10:20AM (#13546947) Homepage
    What's the problem with menu bars the way we know them? It's always the same... we get used to something and in the next version there's a brand new way to do the same thing, forcing us to get used again.
  • Toast (Score:3, Funny)

    by JonLatane (750195) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @10:22AM (#13546968)
    It looks like they used Microsoft Access 12 for their server's database.
  • Another site (Score:5, Informative)

    by damieng (230610) * on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @10:22AM (#13546975) Homepage Journal
    Here's another site with the images:

    http://bink.nu/photos/news_article_images/category 1015.aspx [bink.nu]
  • Mirror (Score:3, Informative)

    by dr_d_19 (206418) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @10:23AM (#13546980)
    ...here [nyud.net].
  • by /ASCII (86998) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @10:23AM (#13546987) Homepage
    of making sure that the UI for their #1 application never ever matches that of the OS. I can't understand how anybody can think this is a good idea. But seeing how Apple do the same thing [daringfireball.net], I guess somebody thinks it is a good idea. Though I don't hear anybody scream at Apple for plagiarising Microsofts ideas.
    • Indeed, this is just another example of the oft repeated truism about Linux on the desktop. With its two major toolkits (Qt, GTK), Linux will never succeed. It needs to be more consistent, like Windows with its... (IE, Office, Media Player, Visual Studio, ...) 5+ different toolkits that Microsoft uses, and many other toolkits that other applications use (Trillian, iTunes, Winamp, ...).

      When will the Linux community learn that it has to be consistent to be accepted at large? They must be consistent and use a
    • by TomorrowPlusX (571956) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @11:08AM (#13547463)
      I don't know where you hang out, but here as well as on almost all OS X forums, there's NO END AT ALL to people whinging about OS X's interface inconsistency.

      This is NOT an example of everything-MS-does-is-bad-but-if-Apple-does-it-it' s-OK. Apple does it and people bitch. MS does it and people bitch. Hell, it happens on linux too, and people bitch about it there, too. So stop pretending MS is the only one being bitched at about it. It happens everywhere, and people get pissed about it everywhere.
  • by Willeh (768540) * <rwillem@xs4all.nl> on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @10:25AM (#13547003)
    Looks like this guy: http://daringfireball.net/2005/09/anthropomorphize d [daringfireball.net] , our lovely brushed metal friend has found a new home in Redmond, with no thanks from his two-timing agent. Evil always find evil, i guess.

    Disclaimer: I don't know how to put that link in as some text atm, but whatever.

  • I don't like it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MikeBabcock (65886) <mtb-slashdot@mikebabcock.ca> on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @10:25AM (#13547006) Homepage Journal
    I'm sure Microsoft put some time and effort into this, but I don't like it.

    Its hard to put my finger on it, but its inconsistent (button size, text placement, icon usage, drop-shadows, etc.) and asymetrical.

    Just IMHO.
    • Re:I don't like it (Score:3, Interesting)

      by zootm (850416)

      I have to say I quite like it. There's something there that's at least acknoledging that "the way we do things" is not the be-all and end-all of usability. By reducing things to contexts, they might be able to expose everything you need without increasing complexity.

      I think we're never going to know how well this works until we actually get to use it though — it's too different from other interfaces around to draw quick conclusions, I feel.

    • Re:I don't like it (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jallen02 (124384) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @10:36AM (#13547130) Homepage Journal
      Well.. in a way it makes sense. You place the most emphasis on items that get used a lot and remove emphasis on the lesser used items. Kind of like their "lets see if you can find where I hid the menu" game, but possibly more useful. If I had to choose between reduced visibility relative to other menu items or no visibility for menu items that don't get used a lot I pick reduced. I hate the hide the menu item game.

      What would be really cool is if the menu sizing thing is adaptive to your usage habits. I guess it is just so hard to do it right. I say this because look at programs like PhotoShop and Visual Studio. They are both relatively complex with a completely customizable UI. Only YOU have to do the customizing. What if some sort of automated customization based on usage patterns was possible on some limites scale. Better than the hide the menu game.

      I liked another posters idea of the "Google" search for menu items instead of static menu structures. The problem is you want to navigate menus with mousing only. Maybe some sort of spcial grid where you mouse through a box and as you move to certain areas it will zoom into that cluster of menu items and a standard area to mouse over that zooms you back out. I can imagine a fluid series of movements taking you down the equivalent of three or four menu levels rather quickly through a kind of set of 3D nodes. Only its more like a 3D chess board so that the structure is easy to follow and less fluid than a true 3D menu system with floating clusters of nodes that are only loosely connected.

      Oh well. Thats all UI research, not something you can just spring on people. Or maybe.. if it were perfectly intuitive?

      Jeremy
  • Grasping at straws (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LehiNephi (695428) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @10:26AM (#13547020) Journal
    For a while, we've seen many complaints about MS Office becoming more bloated and increasingly expensive without adding significant value to the customer. Now, MS is coming out with a new version of office that again offers no reason to upgrade, and now they change the interface? This seems to me like change for change's sake--they're grasping at straws to make it look like you need to upgrade.

    What they are doing is taking an already extremely complex piece of software, and suddenly changing how to do everything. Suddenly, switching to OpenOffice seems like less of a change than upgrading to the next version of MS Office.
    • Given that they haven't announced anything about Office 12 except that the new file format and Metro support, how do you proclaim to know that it brings no significant value to the customer?
      • by LehiNephi (695428)
        Given that they haven't announced anything about Office 12 except that the new file format and Metro support, how do you proclaim to know that it brings no significant value to the customer?

        Thank you for proving my point. If there was significant value coming in Office 12, don't you think they would be trumpeting it upon the housetops?
  • by Anonymous Coward
  • by Lord Bitman (95493) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @10:27AM (#13547045) Homepage
    Even Less of the screen actually showing my document! Hooray progress!
  • by aussie_a (778472) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @10:28AM (#13547050) Journal
    Bearing more than a passing resemblance to Aqua and brushed metal looks from Mac OS X

    And everyone knows this is the most important part of the new UI *roll-eyes*

    Unfortunately I can't comment on anything else because it's been slashdotted. However these tabbed pop-up things sound like they're a change for the sake of a change. That is bad. Making changes to the UI can be good when they improve functionality and ease of use. Making changes to the UI so they can sell yet another copy of your favourite bloatware office program is not good.

    Word has a lot of elements of a UI that are good in theory. Now if only they could work on their implementation of these elements.
  • Crowded (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CdXiminez (807199)
    My first impression: very crowded screens. Screen confusion taken a step further.
  • by strider44 (650833) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @10:32AM (#13547094)
    I'm not talking about the document format this time but visual standards. Every single major Microsoft product seems to look different nowadays. Seems funny that they actually expect people to use the API et al when they don't use it themselves!

    Personally I like having applications be consistant. Even Linux with GTK and QT differences are quite consistant. It seems for Microsoft autohiding the menu or turning it a bright shade of blue wasn't enough. Now Microsoft are throwing out the perfectly good menu system for something that takes literally and it seems constantly a fifth of the screen space. For someone who refuses to use any browser other than Firefox simply because with Firefox I can squish every single button and bar and menu onto one small line, that's deeply offensive for me.

    Besides this you need to move the mouse from one end of the screen to the other on the larger dimension every single time in this stupid tabbed interface.

    Ah well it's Microsoft, the company responsible for some of the worst interfeces known to man.
  • Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery .
    This looks more like a parody of aqua though
  • Its.....butt ugly (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WhiteWolf666 (145211) <sherwin AT amiran DOT us> on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @10:37AM (#13547139) Homepage Journal
    What happened to all the 'clean lines' of the windows interface?

    This is like someone mixed Mac OS X Aqua with LSD!

    My bet? This is an optional interface. This is not the standard interface. There are people in my office who *refuse* to use OpenOffice.org. Not because it isn't an MS product, but because it doesn't work *exactly* like Office 2000.

    There isn't a snowball's chance in hell that they'll use *that* nastiness.

    Doesn't MS realize that the majority of business users will be using the same old Windows 2000 interface? Doesn't MS realize that if they cut that out, the *natural* upgrade path will be something linux XFce w/OpenOffice.org?
  • Retraining? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hattig (47930) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @10:40AM (#13547162) Journal
    That interface is completely different.

    Which means that you can choose to upgrade to Office 12 and retrain or your users.

    Or you can sidegrade to OpenOffice which has a much more familiar layout to Office users.

    Wonder which one will be cheaper to do?

    Looking at the screenshots I see bling being put before usability. Whilst the concept is nice - having a single wide toolbar is like the old Wordstar help pages - how usable will it be? I can see even more mousing will be required...

    In many ways it will be better than having multiple toolbars, but I can see instances where you'll be switching between 'Writing' and 'Tables' or whatever all the time, which will be annoying.

    Compare to, e.g., Pages' inspector and side panels - whilst Pages isn't functionality the same as Word, the interface is pretty good for the most part. The tabs at the top of the inspector are kinda the same as the tabs in Office 12 I suppose, it just comes down to implementation. Certainly with a single floating inspector that isn't too wide, it is much easier to mouse around it than if it was the width of the screen!

    Knowing Microsoft ...
  • Server In Flames (Score:4, Informative)

    by lordDallan (685707) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @10:43AM (#13547203)
    [Rant] Is it so freaking hard to post the link as a Coral Cache link???

    You just take the existing url www.test.com/stuff.htm and add ".nyud.net:8090"

    www.test.com.nyud.net:8090/stuff.htm

    Or for this site:

    http://pdc.xbetas.com.nyud.net:8090/?page=o12previ ew1 [nyud.net]

    That's it! It's easy and would let sooo many more people see the article.[/rant]
  • Signatures (Score:4, Interesting)

    by 42forty-two42 (532340) <(bdonlan) (at) (gmail.com)> on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @10:52AM (#13547308) Homepage Journal
    One of the screenshots is that of a signature pad (no, not the digital kind). I wonder, how secure do they intend to market this as? Since it's just an image it'd be trivial to lift it and drop it into another document, or to edit the document after the signature is applied.
  • by Alistar (900738) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @10:55AM (#13547323)
    The only real feature I want to see is 'Paste Unformatted Text' by default. I can't stress how annoying it is that word keeps the friggin format of the copied text when I try to paste. There may be a way to do this already, if so please I seek your advice. (And yes I know you can go Paste Special -> Unformatted text, but I want it by default when I hit Ctrl-V). Oh if you know how to do this in OpenOffice too I would appreciate that as well.
    • by stang (90261) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @12:39PM (#13548310)
      can go Paste Special -> Unformatted text, but I want it by default when I hit Ctrl-V

      You can change the shortcut keys so that Ctrl-V points to Paste Special... instead of Paste. Go to Tools|Customize..., then select the Keyboard... button to display the Customize Keyboard dialog. Select Edit from the Categories list on the left side of the dialog, then select EditPasteSpecial in the Commands list on the right hand side. Switch focus to the Press new shortcut key textbox, and press Ctrl+V. Note that the dialog shows that this key sequence is currently assigned to EditPaste. Choose Assign, then close both the Customize Keyboard and the Customize dialogs.

      You'll still get the Paste Special dialog, but focus is set to the format options list, and if you press U, then return, you will select Unformatted Text (or, in the worst case, Unformatted Unicode Text) and have the text pasted.

      It's not as good as a simple Ctrl-V, but Ctrl-V, U, <CR> is a bit easier than switching to the mouse. Of course, you could skip this whole thing and do Alt-E, S, U, <CR>; but you already knew that.

  • by wandazulu (265281) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @10:55AM (#13547331)
    (With apologies to Poochy)
    "Yo! I'm Excel! Yo I'm soooo down with you! I take calculations...TO THE EXTREME!!!!"

    I don't think I've ever seen a more in-your-face interface *ever*. Interfaces are supposed to get out of the way and let you get the job done with minimal fuss...this takes it to the complete opposite.

    It seems clear to me that Microsoft is really honestly losing it...their two cash cows, which drive the *entire* freaking company, are being pimped. They're being given cheezy makeovers and being pushed in your face in some desperate attempt to stay in the forefront of your mind, because what you're *doing* is not important, it's that you're using WINDOWS and OFFICE that's important.

    TO THE XTREEEEEMMMME!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • by unfortunateson (527551) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @11:11AM (#13547499) Journal
    What makes the existing Office versions (see caveats below) so useful is their extremely high level of hackability, with very little effort. Both from OLE and the internal Visual Basic for Applications (now Visual Studio .Net for Applications or some such nonsense), the entire (almost) document model is addresable in nice easy to bite chunks, and just about any task can be automated.

    Aside from providing income to folks such as myself, it permits many of the limitations of the systems to be exceeded.

    So, will these new "chunky toolbars" and property panes, and so on, be addressable using the current methods, in other words, does my current VBA/VS.Net code work... and can I leverage the new features?

    With Office 2002 (aka 10 or XP), Microsoft introduced "Task Panes". These things include the XML interface, a substitute for WordPerfect's "Reveal Codes" and a number of other useful things. But it is barely accessible to the automation/document model, and not extensible at all (except for the XML stuff, but that's another show). I would love to be able to add custom items to those "Property Screens" and add my own menu-like toolbars, to give my customers features that are (a) more usable (assuming that this stuff is indeed more usable, I'm not sure yet), and (b) looks like the out-of-the-box features (but work better).
  • by yagu (721525) * <yayagu.gmail@com> on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @11:27AM (#13547655) Journal

    Seems to me this interface is different enough it would almost require re-training for many users (I'm guessing the syllabuses are being cranked out by the one-week training class industry right now)? And, considering the retraining, what about the costs? Isn't this exactly the argument MS used against MA's decision to move to Open Documents? Really, looking at this interface, I wouldn't even consider unleashing it on my parents, who are already confused enough by the current Office Suite interface (chevrons in the pulldown menus, etc.)

  • by jlund (73067) on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @11:54AM (#13547890)
    The link below has pictures as well as describes why they make the UI changes.

    Q&A: Microsoft Showcases New User Interface for Office "12" Core Applications:

    http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/features/2005/s ep05/09-13OfficeUI.mspx [microsoft.com]
  • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Tuesday September 13, 2005 @11:59AM (#13547936) Homepage Journal
    From the signature dialog [nyud.net]:
    Type or ink your name below or click Select Image to select a picture to use as your signature:

    I guaran-frickin'-tee our IT guy will get at least one call from a peeved user that can't 1) get Windows to recognize their inked signature or 2) get Sharpie off their LCD monitor.

    I hereby propose "Strauser's Rule of UI Design":

    Remember that stupid people will read your words, too. Consider the worst possible misinterpretation of anything you write, because it will always come back to you.

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