Office 12 New UI: The Cat’s Out

As you may have seen by now in many news articles as well as, in this morning’s keynote at the Microsoft Professional Developer Conference in Los Angeles, we demonstrated a new user interface that will debut in the next version of Office, code-named Office “12.”


At the core of the new Office user interface is something we’ve been calling the “ribbon.” (I know marketing is hard at work coming up with a spiffier official name.)  The ribbon is a strip across the top of the screen that is contains the functionality you interact with in the process of using Office.  Also notable is that the programs using the new interface have no top-level menu structure (File, Edit, View, etc.)  Nor do they have toolbars as they’ve existed in previous version of Office.  I’ll be explaining much more about the ribbon in future blog entries.


The new user interface isn’t just the ribbon, however.  It includes a number of new and evolved concepts and controls that work together to create the whole of what we call the “new user experience.”  The ribbon is a major part of the new design, but it’s not the whole enchilada.


In the coming days and weeks, I’ll be sharing with you more details about how the new user interface works, why I believe in the change we’re making, how we decided what to do, and how we’re evaluating the successes (and failures) of the design.


The new UI is a work in progress.   And of course there’s nothing that can compare to a wide variety of people using the builds, and that will start happening when we release beta 1 of Office “12” later this year.  Although we’ve refined and tweaked our designs internally based on our usage and all the feedback we’ve received from early users thus far, we’re still in the relatively beginning stages of finding out what parts work really well and which parts still need some tune-up.


Still, after more than two years of design and redesign, working to breathe life into this new UI, I’m excited to be able to finally start sharing and discussing it with you.


Tomorrow: The ribbon, in-depth.

Comments (5)

  1. Rick says:

    Very exciting stuff. I’m impressed how evolved the UI is this early in the game.

  2. Rob Bin says:

    Can you give more information how the ribbon will interact with existing toolbars and also the Action Pane?

  3. chullybun says:

    Challenge for the Office 12 team: make these new controls part of the platform so that others internally and externally can leverage and provide equally excellent and consistent UI’s.

  4. Adam Young says:

    Looks interesting… but the ribbon is a bit "chunky" – large icons, text, takes up a lot of space. Will there be a "small icon" view, or an "auto-hide" feature?