Beta 1-derful: The ‘Top 30’ List

As you
may have seen,
yesterday evening we released Office 12 Beta 1 to our technical beta
testers.  We finished up build 3417.6 last week and declared it to be Beta
1, followed by a few days of media verification (testing the CDs)
and getting it ready for download.  As I write, our 10,000 technical beta
testers are furiously downloading the product.  After two years of intense design,
implementation, and iteration, this is a milestone the whole team is really
proud of.  Brian Jones did a great job of summarizing
of the achievements and goals of the release in his blog today.

The product team in Redmond had a party last Friday afternoon to celebrate. 
Our hard work was rewarded by a number of vegetable crudite platters, several
hundred Swedish meatballs (too bad Raymond
wasn't there) and a tray of pablum potato skins.  (What did you expect?  It's
only a beta.)  The stereo system was
pumping "Ice Ice Baby", and people were lined up around the edges of the room like a junior high dance.  Unfortunately, after waiting 10 minutes in line I finally got to the food and
found out I was supposed to pick up a plate before I got in line.  So, I
just gave up and went back upstairs to work.  People who showed their ID to
get alcoholic beverages got "Beta 1" stamped on their hand, which I thought was
a nice touch.

If you are lucky enough to be a beta tester for Beta 1, please respect your beta
test agreement and post feedback only through the private
beta newsgroups you have access to and not here on my blog.  You'll get me
in trouble!  🙂

If you're didn't get selected for Beta 1, that's OK.  You can keep reading
about the new user interface here; there's a lot I haven't covered

I've been blogging long enough now that many of the questions I receive through
e-mail are covered in posts from the past.  With more people reading every
week, it's only natural that not everyone will have read everything I've

So, in honor of Beta 1, here are the top 30 articles you should read if you
want to familiarize yourself with the user interface changes in Office 12. 
If you read these 30 articles, you'll have a good start at understanding what
we're doing, why we're doing it, and how we're validating it.

Consider this list a "best-of" from my first two months of blogging.

Posts about the Ribbon and how it works:

Posts about Galleries, Formatting, and Results-Oriented Design:

Why did we make a new UI for Office 12?

The philosophies, ideas, and design tenets behind the new UI:

Usability techniques and validation of the new UI:

Comments (19)

  1. BradC says:

    Congrats on Beta 1!

    Will the beta download also be available to MSDN subscribers, or only to those specifically selected for beta testing?

  2. jensenh says:

    I believe I read that Beta 2 will be the first build available to MSDN subscribers.

  3. MSDNArchive says:

    Hmm, how did you pick and order the top 8 posts for "Why did we make a new UI for Office 12?"

  4. Does Microsoft purposely reduce the quality of some of their icons their beta software?

  5. Nathan:

    No, but we have thousands of new icons being produced for Office 12. It takes several years to get them all through concept, design, and into the product. As a result, we usually don’t finish until almost RTM.

  6. MattB says:

    Are smart tags supported in Office 12? We hope so!

  7. s_tec says:

    Hooray! Now that Beta 1 is here, you can tell us what’s under that file menu (nudge, nudge, wink, wink).

  8. Hi Jenson,

    First, as a developer I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog so thank you! Can you shed any light on whether or not all these new UI features will become part of Windows Common Controls or something similar so that any application developer could leverage them?



  9. jensenh says:


    We don’t have anything specific to announce around that right now, although this does come up pretty frequently.

  10. Jensen,

    Thanks very much for the reply! I’ve posted an entry on my blog that further explains my position and hopefully will help drive Microsoft to make what I feel is the right decision for all Windows software developers.


  11. Edge says:


    Steve is definitely right on the money: this/these controls should be part of the base Windows API (much as the Rebar/Coolbar control were added with IE 3.0). If it’s not a part of Windows Vista, it could just as well be made available as a redistributable (as has been done in the past).

    And like Steve says on his blog, this should be a native component, not a .NET-only component.

    Thank you for your attention.

  12. tzagotta says:

    I also think it would be helpful to have the Office controls available. All the third-party controls that I buy now are written in managed code, so I would be happy if you released O12 controls that required .NET (only if it is .NET 2.0).

    We develop applications that are used together with Office applications, so being able to make a consistent look-and-feel with Office improves the usability of the system. This is why having Office controls released adds value.

  13. SlashDotJunkie says:

    Two words for Steve Trefethen: not likely.

    Not even all Office 12 applications are getting this new UI. Would you realistically expect that it is made available for everyone to use?

  14. TC says:

    Too late now of course, but, IMHO, the new UI controls should have been developed as a common API right from the get-go. Then there is no problem making them available to everyone else – they are already there, to begin with.

    Maybe next time!

  15. BradC says:

    Now that Beta 1 is out, the first reviews have hit the street. The website WindowsAtoZ said:

    "The only really big improvement to Word 12 is the ribbon menu at the top."

    "As with Word 12, the only real change to Excel 12 is the interface."

    Uh, they must not read this blog. Or David Gainer’s. Or Eric Rucker’s. My response is linked in my blog above.

  16. Edge says:

    I don’t see why these couldn’t be made available in time for Vista/Longhorn myself. Vista hasn’t even reached Beta 2 yet, so there’s still time for a UI widget to be packed in.

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