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Next Office For Mac Revealed

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APC Magazine has the exclusive: Microsoft’s Mac Business Unit is already halfway done building the next release of Microsoft Office for the Apple Mac.

The new version is likely to hit stores next summer or early fall, and will probably be named Office 2007.

It will be released as a Universal Binary, giving it much better performance than older software running through Rosetta emulation on Intel Macs (including the Mac release of Office 2004). All the programs will use the new Office XML file formats.

They’re not being completely forthcoming on the user interface, only that there is a lot of work going into a new UI, and that they are taking some ideas from the Windows release’s Ribbon.

“We will be doing a UI refresh” Starman confirms, “but it won’t be exactly like you see in Office 2007. It just wouldn’t make sense. Apple has got their own very specific set of user interface guidelines and we try to first and foremost to follow those guidelines.

If we can innovate on top of that and do some interesting things to make sure that the interface is really discoverable for the Mac user, then we’ll look at doing that. We can get some ideas (from the ribbon) but it still has to fit within Apple’s UI guideline, that’s what a Mac user wants to see” Starman says.

“We had what we thought was going to be this perfect UI solution, and the first time we put it in the labs, no-one understood it! It was so different they were completely confused! We just finished up another round of usability testing on the new UI yesterday, and the program manager said the difference is like night and day”.

It all sounds very interesting. I don’t know anything about the Mac UI guidelines, and I’d love to see what the Mac BU has cooked up. Hopefully we’ll find some answers on their blog soon enough.

I should have guessed some news was coming when they launched a blog for the Office for Mac team a few weeks ago.

(via TechMeme)

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Nathan Weinberg writes the popular InsideGoogle blog, offering the latest news and insights about Google and search engines.

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