Where Have I Gone?

I know in my last post I said that I'd be gone for a few days… and now those few days have stretched into a few weeks.

One of the reasons I've been off the blog for a while is that we've been extremely busy putting the final touches on Office 2007. Now is the time when every bug needs to be tracked down and squashed with utmost priority. And with Windows Vista also in the home stretch, there's a lot going on around here.

I've also been fortunate to spend much of the last month traveling around the world and here within the United States, talking to customers and the press about Office 2007. Last week I was in Singapore talking to folks from all around Asia; it was fun to show an almost-finished Office 2007 to a group of people to whom the new UI was totally unknown. I always seem to learn something from people who are seeing the new interface for the first time; it's why we put so much of an emphasis throughout the design process in soliciting fresh perspectives.

Now I'm finally back in Seattle for a while, so I will be writing regularly again.

For you developers out there, later in the week I'll post the final Office 2007 schema for Ribbon development which you can use to author solutions which will work with the RTM version. Happily, very little modification will be required to move solutions forward which you author against B2TR.

Comments (26)

  1. CMM says:

    Hey Jensen how do you feel about the hugely negative response to IE7 thus far I’ve seen in the forums?

    And have you guys fixed the disparate window management models in Office (SDI in Word, MDI in Excel and yet a confusingly different MDI behavior in Powerpoint?).

    How about the divergent Color schemes between "ribbon" apps and "non-ribbon" Office apps?

    Come on. Answer the meaty *UI* questions.

  2. Step says:

    I’m sure there’s a lot to do at the moment.  And when you finally get everything wrapped up, there’s planning and work to do for the next version.  😉  Thanks for popping back in and letting us know what’s keeping you busy.  

  3. VaibhavGarg says:

    Good to see you back. I hope you will have many more interesting facets of 2007 office to share.

  4. jensenh says:

    I won’t be posting about IE7, but personally I think it’s a nice upgrade.  But that discussion seems like it’s more appropriate on an IE forum.

    The MDI/SDI stuff is a topic I do plan on getting to down the road.  What you’ll see in RTM 2007 matches what you’re seeing in B2TR currently (and pretty much what was shipped in 2003/XP/2000.)

    Color schemes I already posted about twice:



    All of the information in these articles is still accurate for RTM.

  5. CMM says:

    I never installed the Technical Refresh. But does this mean that getting two Excel documents on two monitors is still unintuitively difficult (or impossible as with PowerPoint)?

    That’s not progress. This is one of the things I get the most calls about. It is maddening that this hasn’t been addressed.

    Correct me if I’m wrong.. and unless you guys "rewrote" the guidelines… but MDI was *officially* deprecated in the guidelines shortly after Windows 95’s release. And for good reason too IMHO. History has a short memory apparently.

    What’s the story here?

  6. Francis says:

    CMM: Could you enlighten me as to how the window management in these programs is different?

    There is a checkbox under File/Options that allows you to toggle between SDI and MDI in these programs.

  7. MaryHazel says:

    Glad you back.  Looking forward to more useful insight into Office 2007.

    Question:  About the Office Button choices in Word.  I was recently reading About Office 2007 in a resource(Microsoft Press) which refers to Finish on the Office Button but Prepare is the choice I see in the Beta2TR version of the software.  Are the names in Beta2TR going to stick or will I need to change Names of items when the final version comes out?



  8. Rick says:

    I’m glad that now is the time when every bug needs to be tracked down and squashed with utmost priority, but it’s too bad your external beta testers have been excluded from helping.

    They’re still running a build from August….

  9. CMM says:

    Francis: This blog explains it better than I could. http://www.sturmnet.org/blog/archives/2006/05/30/office-2007-can-we-decide-on-a-ui-document-model-please/

    In other words: "Windows in Taskbar" in Excel and PowerPoint does not turn the two apps into "real" SDI apps like Word. You can’t lay two or more documents side by side (in the same way as Word… and any other true SDI app) or move them to different monitors (easily).

    Again, I have since stopped testing Beta2 and never installed TR.. so I’m not sure if this has been addressed. My understanding is that it has not (and won’t be).

  10. Ray says:


    I use Beta2TR, and apparently Excel AND Powerpoint do both use proper SDI, i started up Excel, clicked on the ‘New’ button and now have 2 Excel books in my taskbar.

    So it is safe to say that you can go back to using Beta2TR and it will work properly with multiple monitors.


  11. CMM says:

    Really? The windows OVERLAP and aren’t contained in ONE parent Excel window??? (no, it’s not enough that they both have taskbar buttons… as this has been Excel/Powerpoint’s "fake SDI" technique since Office 2000).

    Other than clicking "New" does the same thing happen when you load two or more (existing) documents from Windows Explorer?

    Maybe I’ll give TR a try. This wasn’t the behavior in the original Beta2.

  12. Frank Lewis says:

    Is the RTM really going to be released tomorrow (10/25)? Sure hope so…

  13. Good Lord, CMM!

    The answer is that what you’re trying to do CAN be done, even with Office 2003.

    Yes, in Excel, when you click new, it does do the multiple Taskbar Buttons trick that swaps out the active document in the main window. Doing so triggers the exact same functionality as if you selected a different "Book" (or MDI child window, essentially) from the Window menu. Yes, you get the MDI feel. This is shown by your Workbooks showing up in the "Window" list. Yes, this results in it being tricky to run adjacent windows on a single or even multiple monitors. This is the problem you’re describing.

    What you’re trying to accomplish, to achieve true SDI, can absolutely be done. All you have to do is load up another *instance* of Excel. That is, Start–>Run–>[Excel, Winword, Powernt]. With this new instance, you have another MDI container which, if only one document is open, functions essentially as SDI. Now you have TWO movable windows / SDI interfaces, TWO taskbar buttons, and the capacity to place these windows you want over multiple monitors. Each instance then maintains a distinct list of child documents.

    You with me here? Can we let Jensen relax a bit on this one? 😉

  14. CMM says:

    Mike: I knew all that. What you describe is a workaround (one that I don’t think works with PowerPoint I might add!!!). Unfortunately none of MY USERS do. And when I tell them they often forget or find it unweildy…. because…

    They and even MYSELF(!) will have absent-mindedly opened two documents… only to find that I later want them on two monitors. What do I have to do? Oh! Close one of them— but don’t click hit the Big X that closes ALL your Excel documents (which by the way behaves differently in PowerPoint despite it employing the same Fake SDI interface… argh!). Launch another instance of Excel and hit File|Open… bla bla bla.

    This is not only massively unintuitive but also inconsistent and violates MS’s own UI guidelines (again, MDI was deprecated 10 years ago by MS in the guidelines… even if they have since softened their stance thanks to the Office Team’s failures). Either implement a true SDI interface (like Word), a tabbed interface (like Access 2007 and FrontPage and Visual Studio) but for heaven’s sake the confusing and unweildy Fake SDI thing in Excel and PowerPoint has got to go.

  15. Hravn says:

    CMM is correct, it is not possible to open more than one instance of powerpnt.exe with the same user. It can be done, but then you must use another user for the second instance.

  16. Anonymous says:

    “For you developers out there, later in the week I’ll post the final Office 2007 schema for Ribbon development which you can use to author…”

    Normally Office developers make specialized utilities that use very few commands and for this Ribbon is something very huge and hard. If schema for Ribbon validates onAction  and/or mouseOverClick attributes in Tab tag, it would be very welcome.

    <tab id="customTab" label="Custom Tab" onAction="Callback" >


    <tab id="customTab" label="Custom Tab" mouseOverClick="true" >

    or still

    <tab id="customTab" label="Custom Tab" onAction="Callback" mouseOverClick="true" >

  17. Andre says:

    @CMM: MDI is not deprecated and still has its value for some kinds of apps. If there can only be one window for each document then MDI could be replaced with multiple top-level windows, but an MDI like interface is required if you can have multiple documents and each document can have multiple views/windows.

    Also for the majority with 99.5% of the users with a single monitor MDI might be better.

  18. CMM says:

    Andre: While the current guidelines have soften some, I remember the Windows 95 guidelines being distinctly harsh concerning MDI.

    From an MSJ article in 1996

    "But because the Windows Interface Guidelines for Software Design (Microsoft Press, 1995) and the online documentation that comes with Visual C++™ suggest you use SDI instead of MDI, this article, the final installment in a series that began last June, discusses documents, views, and other aspects of the document/view architecture with an emphasis on the single-document interface."


    From the current Guidelines at MSDN:

    "Note  MDI is an application-oriented model. Many new and intermediate users find it difficult to learn to use MDI applications. Therefore, many applications are switching to a document-oriented model. Therefore, you may want to consider other models for your user interface. However, you can use MDI for applications which do not easily fit into an existing model until a more suitable model is introduced."


    I’m a developer… I don’t hate MDI. But I recognize that it is an infinitely confusing Window Management problem that Office makes even worse with the confusing Fake SDI workaround (http://www.pixelcentric.net/x-shame/docs.html).

    The point is that you would think Office 2007 would have implemented something a little more elegant BY THIS POINT (such as Tabs).

  19. MikeC# says:


    In Office07 beta2TR if you double-click on a ribbon menu tab button, the ribbon menu will hide, freeing up screen space.  This is good.

    But I am utterly baffled as to why the ribbon menu bar will now not automatically open when we mouse over the tab buttons – like virtually all menus do.  You are putting efficiency back a step.

    A step back because now when the ribbon menu is hidden, a user needs to click once on the ribbon menu tab button, then again on the menu item.  This is bad.

    What in the world are you guys and gals thinking?  Really, why doesn’t the menu ribbon automatically open when mousing over the ribbon menu tab buttons?  What could be wrong with this?


  20. Hi,

    This is half off the thread, but ages ago I said here that I’d been avidly following the Office 2007 designs until that one where I felt the New/Open and Save buttons had been hidden away.

    Now, finally, I’ve got the beta running on my Mac Pro under Boot Camp and I’ve just got to say that I love Word 2007. Fantastic stuff, especially live preview and that pop-up minibar thing.

    And you’ve put the New and Save buttons up there on the QAT!  So much better.

    For some reason I found it hard to find the styles: the first thing I did on opening Word was click away through the tabs to see what was on them, then I think I unconsciously decided I’d be staying on the Insert tab most of the time. And then even when I tried other tabs to see if Styles were in them, I clicked left to right from Insert onwards, I just didn’t even see the Home one.

    Similarly, I had to resort to Help to find Macros. Am I really a developer just because I write a few macros?

    Oh! I also didn’t expect to have to click away from the pop-up minibar in order to do Ctrl-Z on the keyboard and undo a choice I’d made on the minibar. But even just losing that minibar, that one feature alone, means it’s difficult to go back to using Word 2004. I could move to 2007 permanently.

    Mind you, I’m afraid I laughed when I installed Windows XP and had to go through all those DOS screens in the setup. I used to make screens like that, back in the 1980s, it was fantastically nostalgic for me. And all that F8 for this, L for that, F3 for the other, how did we ever use DOS all the time?

    And I hope Vista’s a bit smarter with when it asks questions: I came back to my desk to find the XP installer had stopped ten minutes in to ask me the time. There’s somehow an expectation that we’ll sit there in front of the installation all the time; very strange. The Office install’s grand, very simple.

    But anyway, Word 2007, just gorgeous. I’ve only had the tiniest play with Excel 2007 yet but I’m really looking forward to it.


  21. Anonymous says:


    > What in the world are you guys and gals thinking?  Really…

    I can not understand too how this extra annoying click can be accepted by office team and passively by many others that read this great blog and others. Maybe they are only developers and not intense application interface users.

  22. C. Moya says:

    MikeC# is correct. Add me to the list that believes the ribbon should "auto show" and then rollback when you move back to the document area.

  23. Me says:

    You can workaround the excel SDI/MDI garbage by using a cheesy batch file containing:

    start excel %1 %2 %3 %4 %5 %6 %7 %8 %9

    then choosing that batch file as the default for ‘Open with…’.

    Excel apparently is very fond of the oh-so-clever ‘Verbs’ stuff, so much that it refuses to let you open each document the normal way, unless you confuse it this way.

  24. CMM says:

    For users at my company (who are fairly heavy Office users… just shy of being Techie "Power Users") who constantly ask me hard-to-answer questions about Excel and PowerPoint’s confusing document window interface (Like, "Ack!!! All my Excel documents closed when I clicked X– Word doesn’t do that!)… , I wrote this nice set of simple VBA add-ins for Excel and PowerPoint:


    (see the screenshot)

    That simulates "Tabs" (by placing buttons for open docs on the toolbar). It’s not perfect… but it works nicely to sort of convey the UI paradigm that they’re truly working with.

    If I could do that in about 20 minutes… why can’t the Office guys come up with a *better* nice Document UI???????? Either do true SDI (like MS Word)… or a nice Tabbed MDI (like FrontPage).

    **This mish mash hodgepodge of paradigms, confusing UI models, and half-followed-on ideas has got to stop!!!**


    And while Start|…Excel works to bring up a new Excel PROCESS, I still don’t have an answer for them when they ask why they can’t see two PowerPoint documents truly side by side (i.e. with other windows on the desktop) or how to see them on two monitors!

  25. Stefan KZVB says:


    Just had a quick look at your website – I think you’re developing some very nice utilities!

  26. CMM says:

    Most of them are old. From like college… which I graduated from 8 years ago 😉

    But thanks!

    I still think Jensen should tell us why Office (to this day!) implements *inconsistent* (Word does one thing while Excel does another while PowerPoint does yet a slightly different thing) and *outdated* (guidelines encourage against them) MDI UI models and why Office 2007 offers no "innovation" in this area.

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