Through the Looking Glass

A couple of months ago, I posted screenshots of the visual appearance of the Office 2007 Beta 1 Technical Refresh.

At the time, a number of you asked for pictures of what Office 2007 looks like on Windows Vista with glass enabled.

Your wish, my command. Here are a few pictures of what Beta 2 will look like running on a recent pre-Beta 2 build of Windows Vista. Note that you need a fairly recent build of Vista in order for glass to be enabled in Office.

We’re still planning on some visual tweaks based on feedback and to optimize for glass, especially in the upper-left corner (or, as we call it internally, the “northwest” corner.) But these won’t debut until after Beta 2 ships, so these pictures are an accurate picture of what Office 2007 Beta 2 will look like on top of Windows Vista Beta 2.

Word 2007 Beta 2 on Windows Vista

Excel 2007 Beta 2 on Windows Vista

Enjoy the screenshots!

Comments (74)

  1. John Anderson says:

    That is just beautiful!

  2. Vincent says:

    It has been quite a long time since the last screenshot of Word 2007 I have seen. I feel Office 2007 is slowly loosing all its new features. Many labels are less clear and more generic, just think of Home, Home doesn’t mean anything. Styles feel like we are going to have the same styling as in Office 2003, everytime you change a tiny bit of your style, Office automatically creates a new style in the list, so styles are pretty much useless. The Editing label in the toolbar is far from being relevent to its content (Find, Replace). Colors are the same 16 colors we used to find in Windows 3.1, these colors are ugly.

    Anyway I love the whole UI style. I just think Office 2007 won’t be as new and exciting as many announced few months ago. Same thing for Vista.

  3. Ben R. says:

    Very nice!

    Speaking of the "northwest corner," has the team made any modifications to the Office Button’s appearance to address all the concerns about discoverability?

  4. xml says:

    After seeing how office 2007 looks like on windows with a non default theme (anything other than blue luna) i must say i cant believe you guys honestly think the technical refresh looks better than the previous beta (even on color level, the gray looked better with almost any color as opposite to blue on the recent refresh).

    The gui is way too much teletubby and the tabs were better before (even windows media player 11 will use the style of tabs you dropped in the refresh build). why cant the interface use the windows theme colors?

    At least with vista even if the color there will be black (which is no improvement) at least with glass we will see less of the alien office looks and more of the standard theme we have chosen for widnows beneath.


  5. To Vincent:

    Search this blog for "home tab" to get the whys behind the decision. If I ask you to change the name of Company ABC to Company XYZ in your document, is that not editing? The Find and Replace tool just speeds it up. You should also search the blog for "color palette" to get more info on what’s coming.

  6. Dave Solimini says:

    Gotta say, the glass is just distracting. I have a hard time understanding why glass works from a usability standpoint.

  7. xlm says:

    So it *would* benefit from having the same shape as others – curves of glass and Office surface don’t match at all!

  8. Alex says:

    Hey, show us Windows Classic please. 🙂

    I don’t use Windows Classic theme, but dying to know how it will look there…

  9. Sidebar Geek says:

    Jensen Harris put online some screenshots that show us exactly what Glass will look like on Windows Vista….

  10. Konstantin Gonikman says:


  11. Jensen, I don’t know what your usability studies said to use so much dark colours in the UI, but I feel uncomfortable with it. Why not replace the black/grey canvas with a blurred translucent canvas?

    I thought the focus of Glass was to put emphasis on the important elements of the interface, and I think the Translucent canvas would help emphasize that.

  12. Jote says:

    ughhh… hate to say that, but the north-west corner is plain ugly. You have thick glass border on the left, and virtually no border at the top. The rounded edge of the glass does not match the rounded edge of Office 2007 UI. It’s really, really bad.

  13. Eli says:

    Yeah the area behind the word document should be glass since it’s basically dead space.

  14. Andrew Shebanow says:

    Overall, it looks nice – better than on XP.

    I have to say, though, that the gradient in the background of the content area in Word and PowerPoint drives me batty. Backgrounds are supposed to be, well, in the background. The gradients are way too in-your-face.

  15. DP says:

    I’m sorry, but why in diagramms in Excel don’t use correction of prospect? Vertical lines as in a low cost photo. It’s bad.

  16. David M says:

    Looks good!  I have a couple of thoughts:

    I agree I think the glass look would be beneficial behind the page.  I find the curve on the top left grabs my attention, even though I know it’s intended to be a subtle background.

    Secondly, the scrollbars look different to the rest of the controls – I guess the main bar (‘handle’?) is supposed to stand out, which it does… maybe you could change its look to be more like the plus/minus zoom buttons on the status bar.  That way it would still look similar in colour to how it does now, but also similar in look to the rest of the UI.

    But, it’s looking good… thanks for posting the pictures!

  17. nksingh says:

    Definitely the document backing should be opaque!  Putting glass there (even if it’s frosted) will be way too distracting.  I don’t think I could focus on my text if it were bordered by anything other than an opaque nearly monochromatic background.

  18. DAvid says:

    Why are the "Sheet" tabs still at the bottom of Excel? Every single application you will ever use (excluding excel) has tabs at the top, not the bottom. When you work on stuff you work at the top.

  19. netfreak says:

    So, when will we be able to use Beta 2, you know that we are desperately waiting…. Please, please, please give it to us

  20. hehe says:

    This is Excel. DAvid, meet Excel. Excel, meet DAvid, the new kid on the blog 🙂

  21. Lorenzo says:

    Vincent is right, I liked Beta1 more!

    Sure, Beta2 is eye-candy (Though I liked Beta1 Menu-Tabs more) but the point of Vincent is clear. What is Home? Home as a Label is meaningless!

    I still love Office 2007, but is gradually losing the features that made me excited, like Vista…

  22. Mike says:

    I agree with the comments that the top left is too busy. What purpose is a shiny Office logo, again?

    I also wonder if the Glass thing is going to be bad for usability… remember that the corners of the screen are the easiest to hit – so when an app is maximised, can you still close by hitting the top right (as XP currently does correctly)? Or do you have to accurately target the button?

    Is it just me, or is the ribbon even higher than it used to be? Just overlaying a Word window over the screenshot, the Office 2007 ribbon takes up ~130% height of my Office 2003 setup with two toolbars.

  23. Pete says:

    I thought that you shouldnt paint on the window borders. Why is it that MS says one thing in their guidlines and then dont care about that guideline?

  24. jordy says:

    well, I dont`t see anything exciting at these pictures. are you working with nice background or with m$ word, excell ???

  25. pcooper says:

    It looks really ugly to me.

    Perhaps I’m just too used to how it used to look, and I don’t have an artist’s eyes…

  26. Jeradc says:

    I love it, and can’t wait to use it.

  27. Andre says:

    Instead of posting something that is supposed to be "eye-candy" it would be better if you would respond to questions and comments that really matters.

    There are a lot of questions regarding RibbonX and the help system. Is this a blog or a brochure?

    And the Office team should stop to trade in functionality for presentation. People are looking for something to get their work done, if I want something that is nice to look at I download a screensaver.

  28. Jim Rech says:

    So the Excel worksheet "x" is gone in B2, Jensen?  I think it was missing in B1 and back in the refresh.  That can only mean it’ll be back for RTM, right.<g>


  29. Jayson Garrett says:

    I suppose my question is… Why does the Office team always feel like it’s OK to violate the UI standards that Windows itself uses, and that Microsoft’s own UI guidelines ask developers to use?

    This is (mostly) great as a work of art, but my users have to deal with this in a real-world business situation, and most of them are NOT computer geeks or usability wonks. This thing doesn’t work like any other Windows application they’ve ever used, and they’re going to just be lost, and we’re going to have to take the calls. If we can ever even deploy it, that is, after a test group of users tries it and freaks out.

  30. Eric says:

    Um, that looks pretty cheesy. All these people claiming MS is copying OS X, when in fact it looks like they’re copying some bad themes from Linux.

  31. Centaur says:

    Show us Office on Windows Classic. Show us the Word that is gray and rectangular. My teeth ache from all this eye candy.

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  33. David says:

    I think Microsoft need to focus more on the features of the product, rather than ‘visual effects’. For example, to me, all Office 2003 is is Office XP with an ugly new colour scheme. I switched to the Energy Blue theme for the only purpose of turning it beige again!! Hardly worth buying?!

    Please can you stop ‘faffing around’ with fancy colour schemes, and focus on the main selling point of the product… and what we fork out huge sums of money for: what it actually does!!!

    I also have 2 requests for Microsoft, although I’m not sure if you’ve implemented them already:

    1) Please can you add the full colour scheme to the Highlight colours yet? Office 2003 has the same basic 15 colours as it did when I first got a PC with Office 97 – it’s nice to be able to highlight using more colours at times!.

    2) Please can you make sure that the rotation tools work on ALL images/autoshapes/textboxes etc! They worked fine in Office XP, but in Office 2003, they’re always disabled!

  34. Paul says:

    Please fix the ‘North West’ Corner, you shouldn’t be painting over the windows border and the window title should be left aligned like the rest of the operating system. Vista is supposed to be about providing a consistent look and feel, Beta 1 was vastly superior with the ‘File’ tab/menu on the same line as the other tabs, with out an over sized globe that looks like a reject from media player.

  35. Walt says:

    Quick question re manageability: will we be able to lock the toolbars? Users are far too able to accidentally change their interface elements on Office 2000, XP, and 2003.


  36. Ryan says:

    I hope that the fadeout effect goes away for Beta 2.  Office 12 is a *joy* to use, but hot damn, when I’m mousing around the ribbon, half the damned icons are lit up to some degree or another.  It is distracting.  

  37. Tim says:

    I love all these people who say things like "sure it looks nice, but it’s going to confuse people!" when all the real world data being collected by Microsoft is saying just the opposite.

    1) The new UI is better than the old UI from a usability perspective. For this there is hard data. If you claim otherwise, you’d better be able to say more than "I don’t think that’s true" because MS can point to thousands of people average people from all walks of life who think it is.

    2) Pretty sells. It doesn’t hurt anything to make it look better, and makes the experience better for everyone. If you don’t like it, don’t upgrade. Vote with your dollar and stop whining.

  38. steveg says:

    Does the new interface require more or less "mouse miles"?

  39. Francis says:

    Please, please, please abandon the Office button/globe/crystal/wart. Here is why:

    1. It probably lessens usability. (What does the button do? What does it represent? How is the Office logo more intuitive than an established term like "File"?)

    2. It is inconsistent with Windows UI design. Menus, except control menus, have always been labeled. It also does not resemble any other [flat] buttons in Office. It is not clear WHAT kind of control it is by its appearance.

    3. It is confusing. Lay users have enough trouble differentiating Windows from Office. At least the Apple menu resembles an an Apple (and there is only one of them, versus the new Office and Start menus.) Why complicate matters by forcing users to learn the Windows and Office logos by heart? Marketing schemes do not belong in a UI.

    4. It will cause problems for support, especially remote (e-mail and telephone.) How will support staff describe it? The "Office logo button"? How many users will understand what that means? More likely will be "click that round clover thing at the top-left corner of the screen." What does Microsoft usability testing say about Office logo recognition?

    The new look is also bad news:

    1. The background should be opaque and solid-colored. Gradients are distracting and distort. Human perception, especially of colors, is easily biased. A multicolored background will only encumber work (especially with colors) and lead to more unpredictable (less WYSIWYG) results.

    2. These glass controls are less legible. They are so glassy that they reflect (they add glare.) Is Microsoft trying to undo all of the work monitor manufacturers have done on trying to reduce glare? This seems to contradict Cleartype’s emphasis on greater readability.

    3. Transparency is also a bad idea. It reduces contrast and introduces an uneven background. Compare a newspaper, bible, or telephone book printed on thin (i.e., semitransparent), colored paper to heavyweight white paper. Which would you rather read?

    Otherwise, I like what you are doing with Office.

  40. oleg says:

    How about putting a standard Vista search box in addition to the usual Office Find&Replace dialog. That search box should be everythere…

  41. Jerry says:


    Will Windows Vista get available as public beta.  So that i can test office my self on vista.   It looks spicy ..


  42. El Bruno says:

    Great news …

    I can’t wait to the Beta 2 to be available, as a Beta Tester and want it NOW !!!

    Bye from Spain

  43. williwill says:

    wow justwow .so ugly

  44. Blue says:

    looks hidious… ditch the themes and use the theme windows has dont make the App inconsistant with the OS in apperance

  45. Matt says:


    the colour is rubish! i hate it dar to dark.

    and the top left is just terable!

    The pre beta UI was far better!

  46. Michael J. says:

    The round thing – is it a system menu? Is it how the system menu will look like in all Vista apps? Anyway, too many lines around, don’t really like it.

    So, a new video board with HDCP support (this should be especially heartwarming for those who bought a video card without HDCP:, a Gig of RAM, and a CPU fast enough – to be able to see through windows? No, thanks. Win2K + Office97 are still good enough.

  47. Timmy says:

    "Service Unavailable"

    Dude, where’s the pics?

  48. Nisse Pisse says:

    lol ITS SOO NICE 😛

  49. Nisse Pisse says:


  50. Steve says:

    Michael J – You go ahead and live in the past.  The rest of us will be more productive.  Pffft.  IMO, from actually USING the products, Vista and Office 2007 are a great step forward.

  51. Neil Thayer says:

    How customizable will all the toolbars be in Office?  I’ve gotten used to being able to customize the heck out of my Office applications (and Internet Explorer), and I would really like for that flexibility to be preserved.

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  53. dalmuti509 says:

    Ok…while the UI is much nicer to look at (i.e. pretty) it is harder to distinguish areas of the UI.  

    I will sum it up first by saying: MORE CONTRAST PLEASE.

    1.  The buttons:  because you only have a light gray outline for button groups and an even lighter gray line to separate buttons, if you have any sort of vision issues you will be hitting the wrong buttons.  

    2.  It is hard to read the names of each ribbon due to the white on gray.  I have color vision issues and the contrast makes me have to strain my eyes to see the names.  Also the little arrows next to the buttons are almost invisible on the gray background.    

    3. While the contrast between the selected tab at the top is good, having the unselected area the same color as the background is distracting.  please make these two separate colors.  

    4. The lovely little quick icons on the bottom are nice as is the zoom, but in saying little I mean that the 4 pixel images barely make it able to distinguish the difference between the bullet and alignment butttons. Also the "glass" across the buttons make it even worse giving it a gray on gray which is horrible contrast.  

    5.  More Color where possible.  The abundance of gray icons on the gray background only weaken the UI and make it harder to see what the icons actually are.  Don’t use faded washed out colors, use vibrant colors that make it easy to recognize what the buttons do.  

    6.  The undo/redo icons at the top are nice, but you can almost not recognize the icons because of the shading and contrast with the background (gray to dark gray) colors.  Please don’t use shading on the buttons and on the background, it just makes the icons less recognizable

    I love the idea of the new ribbon interface, it just needs a little bit of work in the readability and contrast department.  If you really want to know if a user is going to have problems, take a screen shot of the application and then apply a 5-10% gaussian blur to it and see if you can still recognize all fo the icons.  

  54. [ICR] says:

    "1.  The buttons:  because you only have a light gray outline for button groups and an even lighter gray line to separate buttons, if you have any sort of vision issues you will be hitting the wrong buttons."

    I don’t beleive this would actualy be an issue. Firstly, people click on the middle of the button, i.e. the middle of the icon, not surrounding it. Secondly, which you cannot see here, the buttons highlight when you mouseover. And they highlight significantly. This means that you can easily tell if you are over the right button or not.

    Same goes with alot of the contrast issues you mentioned. Okay, if you have visual difficulties you will have to move your mouse more, but if you have more contrast, as you suggest, the whole interface gets very noisy and even harder to make out what the actual icons are and are meant to represent.

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