Office 2007 In Action

    March 29, 2006

Microsoft has put out a 13-minute video introducing the Office 2007 user interface and guiding users through what is different and why it is better.

I’m running 2007 full-time on my machine, and it can be hard explaining to people what makes the Ribbon so great, and why, “I like doing things my way” can be a lost opportunity.

Jensen Harris, head of the Office User Experience team and frequent Office UI blogger, does most of the talking in the video, and touches on all of my favorite Office 2007 features, including the Mini Toolbar and Live Previews. If he’s listening, here are the three annoyances I’m finding in daily use of Office 2007:

  • Normally, when I double-click the icon in the title bar of a program, it tries to close. In Office 2007, the icon is a very large, inviting target, but it doesn’t close anything. It’s the Office Button, and it contains regular File menu commands. Might I suggest giving it some sort of double-click behavior, just to preserve consistency with all other applications?
  • The Mini Toolbar doesn’t like being seen, and vanishes the instant you do anything else, including hitting CTRL-U to underline. If a command isn’t on the Mini Toolbar, don’t penalize me for knowing the keyboard shortcut, and don’t make me have to choose between the thing I want to do now, and the thing I want the Mini Toolbar to do in another moment. I suggest having the Mini appear whenever the mouse is near selected text, no matter how many things you just did.
  • I like the idea of double-clicking the Ribbon to collapse it, especially in Outlook. I want to have the Ribbon collapsed whenever I read a message (but not when I’m writing one). Problem is, when I open a new message, the Ribbon is open again, no matter how many times I collapse it. Let me hide it when I don’t need anything more than the Quick Access Toolbar.

Anyway, as I’ve said a hundred times, the Office 2007 UI is shaping up to be the best thing since the toolbar, and probably better, since it gets rid of that in the process. If you don’t get Office 2007 when it comes out, you’ll be losing out on something special. If you do user interface development, I would suggest you start thinking about ripping this off now.

UPDATE: There’s also a video on YouTube of the Windows Vista Media Center in action (via Charlie Owen).

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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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