What programs get the new Office UI?


A number of programs and services make up what is now called the
Microsoft Office System.  Not all
of them will include the new user interface I’ve been blogging about in Office
12.

The programs which do get the new user interface:

  • Word
  • Excel
  • PowerPoint
  • Outlook (except for the shell)
  • Access

A couple of reasons we started with this set.  Number one, they are the
set of programs that people use the most, so we could make immediate impact
there.  Number two, we really wanted to concentrate the new user experience
on making the
document authoring experience better, so we started with the programs most
centered around document creation (e-mails, slide decks, spreadsheets, papers,
memos, etc.)

Access, is it turned out, was planning a major upgrade to their user
experience this release so it only made sense to include them in the mix rather
than have them try to push up against the limits of the old system.  In
retrospect, it was lucky to have Access along for the ride because making sure
that the user experience worked for a database program stretched and
strengthened our concepts.  I have much greater confidence that the Ribbon
and Contextual Tabs and all the rest make sense for a wide variety of rich
programs because we’ve had to make sure it worked for Access.

And I think it was a win for Access as well, because one of their goals is to
be approachable and usable by someone who maybe uses Excel today but doesn’t
think to use Access.  I’ll be posting later about how the new UI concepts
map to Access.

Long term, I think we’ll see more Microsoft applications start to use the new
user interface.  The amount of time and care that goes into converting a
program cannot be underestimated; it requires fundamentally reaffirming what the
soul of the app is.  It’s not just “put each menu item on an index card and
re-arrange them into the Ribbon.”  It requires a major collaboration
between the user experience team, the application team, usability, research, and
other shared teams that build features across Office. 

For an interaction designer, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and so
we wanted to put as much thought into doing a great job for the Office 12 wave
of programs as we could.  Because we had to design the interaction
concepts, the visuals, and the way the apps use the interaction design all
at the same time, it was a tall order even to do the number of programs we did
this time.  As a result, some programs (Project, InfoPath, OneNote, etc.)
continue to use the existing “menus and toolbars system” in Office 12.

I’m sure once we ship Office 12 and have a chance to start thinking about the
next version we’ll evaluate again what parts of the system it makes sense to
move over next to the new UI.

P.S. A big shout out to the Office MVPs in town for the MVP Global Summit
here in Redmond.  I had a great time talking to many of you yesterday and
putting faces with names.  Hope you enjoy the rest of your time here!

Comments (20)

  1. Step says:

    I can’t wait to hear/see more about the Access redesign!! I’m hoping for lots of improvements behind the scenes there too.

  2. Hoo-b****y-ray, no more opening a table with one cell and one row and it filling the screen with a gray box; No more tables repainting three times over a slow link; No more extended maze to create a linked table;

    Let’s hope so!

  3. Randy says:

    This is an argument I’ve been having on campus for a few weeks now – why don’t all of the Office apps have the Ribbon? – so thanks for giving us all some perspective on what got "wrapped" in Ribbon and what didn’t.

    FWIW, I was half right – for apps like InfoPath and OneNote, they still have a light menu as it is, so I think that giving them a Ribbon would be overkill at this point…

  4. Shine says:

    A number of programs and services make up what is now called the Microsoft Office System

  5. Steve says:

    What about consistency in Windows? Every screenshot I’ve seen of Windows Vista has applications varying greatly in what their UI looks like. Will other (non-Microsoft) applications be encouraged to use this ribbon? What UI principles are going to be portable from application to application?

  6. Andre says:

    I don’t agree with this, the entire Office should use the new ui, the only app I can probably think of that would be difficult to implement the new UI is Visio because of Stencils, it would still need to use a Taskpane if it did. But InfoPath, OneNote, of course even Publisher should use the new ui. Its just whack having some apps and some not using it across the board I say. Thats why I believe the Office Team should have retained backward compatibility with the old ui anyway to maintain consistency and better meet diverse group users needs while introducing them to a new better experience that they can gradually shift to.

  7. Linux User says:

    OpenOffice.org – Better than Microsoft Office

  8. Ute Simon says:

    As a MVP, I hope to get my hands on a Beta soon and start playing with the new UI. Judging from the screenshots I saw up to now, I will like it.

    And most opinions I heard, said they liked it. So it will hopefully become a great success for Microsoft.

  9. If you’re concentrating on the authoring experience, Publisher and FrontPage should get the ribbon and the authoring view in InfoPath should be a strong contender. AUIU there’s a lack of time and resources to do all of them, which is a shame. Publisher has pioneered many developments in Office – task panes, PDF creation – and I think the ribbon would be a big step forward for a complex authoring process like DTP.

  10. Raj says:

    I am kind of dissapointed that the Outlook Shell did not get the new UI. Considering that Outlook is where I spend most of my hours in, it would have been nice to see a change to it

  11. Andre says:

    Raj, the Outlook Shell does not need the Ribbon ui, it displays a limited amount of commands and toolbars. The composer window will find it useful though.

  12. Stephen Mok says:

    It’s interesting that OneNote isn’t getting a new UI this time around. I would’ve thought that as a new application only looking at version 2, it would be good to convert to the new UI while the total user base is still relatively low.

  13. I love Office 2007. If you have not yet downloaded or played with it, pop along to http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/beta/overview.mspxto