Not Gone

It's been a while since I last wrote in this space.

Many of you have been kind enough to send me e-mail sometime in the last few months, making sure that I was OK and wondering if I was planning to write here anymore. Was I abducted by aliens? Put into witness protection? Muzzled for something I said?

Nah. The truth is less interesting than any of the theories.

A couple of things, both work-related and personal, have conspired to monopolize my time over the last few months and leave me little time for blogging.

First of all, we shipped Office 2007. A great milestone for the team, but I spent a lot late 2006 and early 2007 talking to people about the UI and the story of how it was created: journalists, customers, marketing folks, etc. This is fun stuff, but time-consuming.

Second, we never rest at Microsoft, and when we finish a product, we're immediately on to the next thing. I stepped up to a new role within the Office User Experience team, and we've been hard at work for the last six months planning the next release of Office. The early stages of a release are both exhausting and exhilarating--going from "anything's possible" to "exactly what code should be written." This is an intensive period of brainstorming and designing, and it has taken time away from the blog. After all, if we don't design a compelling product now, there's not going to be much for me to write about in the future...

That said, I do plan to write (albeit less frequently) between now and the time down the road when we start talking publicly about the next release of Office. I'm going to make good on my promise to show early prototypes of the Office 2007 UI, and I'll continue to write about usability and interaction design as well.

Whether it will be interesting or not, that remains to be seen... but I'm officially Not Gone.

Comments (20)
  1. David says:

    Good! Hear you again. Since you went away some people have tried to pollute your new UI with the old one. It would be much interesting if you give a word about this type of tries. Now there are four tries on the road: “Classic Menu for Office 2007”, “Active Teach Ribbon”, “ToolbarToogle”, and “Classic UI tabs with RibbonCustomizer”.

  2. Step says:

    Hey, glad to hear from you again!  Glad this popped right to the top of my RSS reader, too.   🙂

    I figure you deserve a break from blogging after that last brutal session.  I hope life is treating you well, and look forward to when you have (somewhat) regular content to bring us again.

  3. jensenh says:


    That’s a good topic suggestion. People are certainly using Ribbon extensibility to build all kinds of things.

  4. Nidonocu says:

    Great to hear you’re back. 🙂

    Has explaining the UI thousand times over to different members of the press taken its toll at all?

    Also, is it just my mind doing some wishful thinking or did I hear that some of the Office UI team will be helping out the Windows team with future improvements to the shell following their success with the Ribbon?

  5. arun.philip says:

    Welcome back!

    >I’ll continue to write about usability and interaction design

    Looking forward to this!

  6. David says:


    > That’s a good topic suggestion…

    Thanks. My special curiosity is that I always thought that Microsoft did not advise with this until I saw “Classic Menu for Office 2007” in Office Marketplace. Maybe I missed something or Microsoft changed its ideas about.

  7. I’m working hard to understand 2007 to explain the benefits to my customers. This is hard work that needs support, which I hope you understand…

    For us the next release is far away!

  8. Stefan KZVB says:

    I agree with Rickard – for customers the next release is quite far away! They have a hard time implementing Office 2007. So what customers need now is support and bug fixes for the current release. I know about a dozen annoying issues that really should be adressed but aren’t even documented yet in the MS Knowledge Base.

  9. Keeron says:

    holy crap.. those "abuses" are crazy. I didn’t know people are doing all kinds of crazy things to still stay in a "classic" mode with the new Office.

    Anyways, glad Jensen hasn’t gone to the moon or mars 🙂 Can’t wait for you start posting those early prototypes (and maybe leak a few from Office 14 😉 )  … Get the community involved in desinging (or improving) the Ribbon UI 🙂

    Question: Can you comment or give more info on the (now famous) Search scout "test" that you guys were doing internally? What was learnt, why you did that first of all, and more imp… why leave us faithful users from not using it 🙂 ?

  10. Tomer Chachamu says:

    Agreed with Keeron. I would have loved an interface similar to GNOME Deskbar or Mac OS X Quicksilver where you can press a single button on the keyboard (are any of the F keys still free? 😉 ) type the command, view a list of possibilities, and press enter to accept the first one.

  11. Keeron says:

    Btw, if anyone didn’t know about the "Search Scout", it’s an awesome tool written by MSFT (internal usage/test I gather)…

  12. Stefan KZVB says:

    That "Search Scout" looks like some very useful improvement for every GUI to me. MS should even implement something like this appearing automatically in every menu of ALL application running in Windows. And of course pay fees to me for the idea to enrich the GUI standard in Windows with it 🙂

  13. Aaaaaah!  Found you again.

    Your tips and updates from MS have been most enjoyable.

    Your Readers all appreciate the time gulped by doing so, but be assured, the effort is enjoyed and appreciated.

    Hope you find further time slots to keep us in touch.

    Meantime, hope the job move meant more $$$s and the personal problems were happily resolved.

    My favourites, by the way, are undocumented shortcuts.



  14. Marc says:

    I find selling the new Office is easy, a quick demo of the picture/photo editing (e.g. adding drop shadows, reflections) the ability to change font and schemes (yes it even changes the colour of some pictures!) and the automatic bibliography generator sells it to most students.

  15. Nick Trendov says:

    I am looking for a way to embed photos in Excel 2007 to help navigate data and provide context to sheets and books.

    Think of a ‘front navigation page’ that almost directs you like a web page to the sheet/section that you need to see or change.

    Ideally I’d like to paste a screen capture or even cell phone photo to a cell and link.

    Thank you for any suggestions.



  16. says:

    Many Nerds won’t be returning.  Some old timers I remember from last year, people like Trenchcoat Mafia, Silk Dragon Shirt, probably won’t be coming back next year.

    Spamming blogs I put their names up, immortalizing them, if only until the blog owner erases everything::::

    1. Trenchcoat Mafia

    2. Silk Dragon Shirt

    3. The Distinguished English Gentleman

    4. Beta Nerd, and of course

    5. Rosie The Transsexual

    Rosie’s original name was just Rosie, due to his rosie cheeks.  They shared he has a high level of knowledge, a tactic the gods employ to create a false sense of security.  This of course is the segment which they dump so many transsexuals into.  

    I too enjoy irony, and therefore Rosie has now become Rosie The Transsexual.

    Who else has a nickname in the NerdRoom?

    I’d like to remind you many of the people in the NerdRoom are good men.  I hope this is reflected in what they are allowed to learn and the progress they’re allowed to make.

    I’d also like to remind you their predecessors, REAL nerds from a generation ago who fill the computer swap meet, are WONDERFUL men, and since I likely won’t be going again I want to remember them as well.

    Actually the comparison of the two is a testiment to the devolution of society, which will be used as justification for the Apocalypse:::

    Today’s nerds are NOT wonderful men.  They grew up with the internet and many consider pornography as an acceptable vice.  They gamble freely, enjoy evil imagry in video games, and this issue is a microcosim of our deterioration.

  17. Vizeroth says:

    I’d just like to say, as someone that missed most of the pre-release information on Office 2007 and just stumbled on the trial when I bought a new laptop, I’m extremely happy with the Ribbon interface. My only major issue with the whole thing has been getting used to the Office button (damnit, where’s the print button? the save button? [in retrospect I never realized that I really don’t use CTRL+P at all and don’t use CTRL+S the first time I save a document]). For years I worked around not knowing how to make superscripts and subscripts in Word (despite usually adding the buttons to the customized toolbar… d’oh), and now I have no problems using them on a regular basis thanks to the ribbon and the easy discovery of shortcut keys in Office2007.

    Now I just have to find my way to the option to change the window colours, since reading your blog has lead me to knowing it should be possible (at least for black and silver) and I don’t have to accept the blue. I’ve never quite understood the reasoning behind using blue as a default in either Windows or Office, and most of the people I know that use the colour simply don’t know how to change it (for instance in XP; or they don’t like the alternatives of silver (too much like the old) or olive green (ummm yeah)).

    Anyway, nice work with the new UI, and I hope things continue to improve in the future. Now if I could only find a way to get Office 2007 and Vista in the office, or maybe I’d settle for WinXP and Office 2003…

  18. xMoDx says:

    Security Update for Office 2007 (KB934062)

    Brief Description

    A security vulnerability exists in the 2007 Microsoft Office System and the Compatibility Pack for the 2007 Office system that could allow remote code execution. This update resolves that vulnerability.

  19. Neil Simmons says:

    Yes I know how things can get on top of you. I just hope my mum understands when I "get obducted by aliens" for 3 months. I think I’m becoming a serial abductee !!

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