Welcome to the New Office 2008 User Experience

With each release of Office we are offered the opportunity to introduce feature improvements and exciting new innovations.  One area that I am really excited about is our next generation Office 2008 User Experience.  For those already familiar with existing Office for Mac, you will find yourself at home --- you will still find the familiar toolbars and drop-down menus, only that they’ve been further evolved to reflect the latest UI trends on the Mac platform.  At the same time, you will also discover entirely new suite-wide user interface elements that again, have been designed from the ground up to reflect the visual and behavioral qualities unique to the Mac.

As the User Experience Lead Program Manager, I am excited about many aspects of the new Office 2008 UI and look forward to sharing our design philosophy, goals, and processes.  For those familiar with many excellent blogs from elsewhere in the company, my role is similar to Jensen Harris on the Office for Windows team – and I look forward to discussing our UI in a similar level of breath and depth through future blog posts.  Also, I will be providing screenshots of the product --- so when you see a link, click away!

There is much to talk about but today I will start with our most noticeable new addition to Office 2008 ---  the Elements Gallery. In this post, I will also touch upon other new user interface feature improvements, many of which are “coming attractions” that I will discuss in greater detail in future posts.  So stay tuned!   (An earlier post from our very own UX Researcher Nadyne is also an excellent read --- so take a look!) 

So, what is this new Elements Gallery?  Well, it’s a visually rich gallery that allows you to quickly find commonly used, but often times hard-to-create elements.  For example, many users know that you can create beautiful tables, charts and diagrams in Office, but not everyone knows where to find or create them.  The Elements Gallery is intended to unlock the power of Office by making our rich functionality more discoverable and accessible.   No longer do you need to search through hierarchical menus and tunnel through dialogs only to find another sea of commands.  With the Elements Gallery, you can focus your time on exploring and perusing the collection of professional and attractive designer content.  “Great looking Office documents made easy” is an important pillar of Office 2008 and the Elements Gallery is a cornerstone to this effort. 

So, what can you find in the Elements Gallery? Well, it depends on which application you’re in, as shown here.  In addition to the previously mentioned tables, charts, and diagrams, all of which are available across Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, you can find features that are unique and specific to the respective applications.   For example, in Word you can insert a Cover Page, a Table of Contents, or even a Bibliography with a single click.  Also, when working in the new Word 2008 Publishing Layout View, you will find a collection of professionally designed templates, including newsletters, flyers, menus, brochures, among others.  In Excel, you can insert a “Ledger Sheet” that contains all the necessary formulas that help you manage your personal finances.  Last but not least, in PowerPoint, you can easily apply one of the many newly designed slide themes, layouts, or transitions.   While the Elements Gallery takes on different functionality depending on the application, you can be sure to see it working consistently across all the applications.  The Elements Gallery was designed as a platform with UI consistency in mind --- much like the Formatting Palette, if you’ve learned how to use it in one of our applications, then you’ve learned how to use across Office for Mac. 

Now going back to how we designed the Elements Gallery.  One of the fundamental design tenets of Office for Mac has always been delivering inviting and engaging Mac-like user experiences.   This means capturing both the static and dynamic aspects of Mac OS X and complimenting them with visual qualities unique to Office for Mac.  You will be able to see this not only with the Elements Gallery, but also throughout our new UI, which I will discuss in greater detail in future posts.  From the moment the Elements Gallery opens, you’ll see that we’ve employed subtle transitions and effects for a fluid and intuitive user experience that is the hallmark of the Mac OS.  As revealed in our early PR screenshots and booth demo at MacWorld Expo this year, Elements Gallery also reflects the visual qualities of glass which works beautifully with the visual language of Mac OS X (and has recently become the trend, in Apple’s new wave of hardware products).   

Another important design goal is also provide a great level of customizability, and more importantly, do so by adhering to the familiar and established conventions on the Mac.  For example, users can customize the ordering of not only sub-categories by simply dragging around the sub-category “pills”, but also the actual thumbnails themselves.  Users can also change the color of the Elements Gallery from the application color to Graphite.   Transparency and hover-over magnification of thumbnails can also be turned on/off or further adjusted to individual tastes from the Elements Gallery Preferences.   Last but not least, the Elements Gallery can be collapsed when not in use --- and when collapsed, the Elements Gallery becomes color-less and quietly awaits until you summon it again.

While not directly related, already we have been asked why didn’t Office 2008 adopt the “Ribbon UI” from Office 2007 for Windows.  The answer is actually a simple one: we’ve designed our UI for the Mac.  Mac users (that’s us too!) are very passionate about the very qualities that have drawn us to the Mac and expect no less from Office for Mac.  Simply, Office for Mac is to look and behave like a great OS X application.  Menus, Toolbars, and Palettes still play an important role in defining the Mac experience so we’ve continued to evolve in these respective areas, while complimenting the core Mac-like UI with innovations like the Elements Gallery.   In Office 2008, Toolbars are now nicely docked within the application window (per Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines) and sport the new unified toolbar appearance.  The Formatting Palette, which broke new ground with the idea of contextual sensitive formatting, has now been merged with the Toolbox to form one single unified palette.  And drop-down menus --- they’re still there.   Our goal is to allow users feel the sense of new possibilities while feeling at home with the new and improved tools.

In upcoming posts, you’ll learn more about the Elements Gallery and how it’s used in the context of application-specific features and user workflows.   With new UI innovations like the Elements Gallery, we hope that you will also discover a new yet familiar Office for Mac --- and be more productive than ever!

Comments (59)
  1. Peter Yang says:

    I think that the most important parts of the “Office 2008 User Experience” will be these major points from a long time Mac user’s perspective, in order of decreasing importance:

    1) Complete compatibility with Microsoft Office for Windows, from regular Excel spreadsheets through complex 50-page Word documents to complete Outlook/Exchange support.

    2) A superb solution to the lack of VBA and suitable replacements, at release, of things such as EndNote, MathType and so on. What would really knock our socks off? A VBA to AppleScript converter.

    3) Response time and performance (especially with large amounts of text/data/images) comparable to Office for Windows. The Mac has never been speedy in this area.

    4) A more Mac-like interface. I place this last because most Mac users are pretty used to Office 2004, and I think the first three points are more important than this one.

    I sincerely hope that in upgrading Office to run on Intel machines, that you have done away with significant portions of “legacy code” that exist from Office 98 up through 2004. The past 10 years have felt like the old Mac engine was continually being repatched and retweaked. But it always felt slow and buggy.

    Please, please change that. If you aren’t going to release another Word for 3 years, you need to give some serious competition to iWork ’08 (and ’09, and ’10).

  2. Terrin says:

    You say, ” One of the fundamental design tenets of Office for Mac has always been delivering inviting and engaging Mac-like user experiences.”

    Perhaps, but I think the primary tenet should be to maintain feature compatibility with Office for Windows. There are plenty of Mac word-processing applications that offer a superb Mac user experience. Mac user’s, however, buy Office because of it’s feature compatibility with its Windows brethren. As a Mac user, I would prefer the MacBU to just give me the exact same version of Office as Windows user have. Bring Macros support back.

  3. shades says:

    Thanks for these additional screenshots and explanations. Good progress.

    In fact, now it is beginning to looks like I might be more interested in the update.

  4. sladuuch says:

    Oh my god!  Office doesn’t look like crap anymore!  I approve, guys.  I approve.

  5. Francesco says:

    Guys, did I see an iLife/iPhoto integration in the "Officeart – Apply Amazing Effects" video? I read a "Last Roll" there. Tell me it’s true! 🙂

  6. Mario says:

    I haven’t read the whole article, but saw the screenshots and they look SWEET!!

    Hope there’s some steak in that sizzle! 😉

  7. Jeff says:

    Your hearts are in the right place, but I’m afraid the MS influence is too strong…. I agree that a visual representation of what is going to happen if you choose a particular command can be very powerful. Unfortunately the new interface succumbs to 2 elements of the powerful Microsoft zeitgeist: a) this software is sooooo powerful, it’s a damn shame nobody knows and uses all the features, we’ve got to expose them! all of them! everywhere! (the corrollary to this is the obvious fact that getting your feature in the build is an obvious sign of power at Microsoft, so everyone tries to get their feature into the build before it’s closed), and b) all references to Macs and Mac users must further the MS messaging that Macs are for “creative types” who care more about aesthetics than productivity and power.

    The former–the need to “expose” more features, is the result of poor interface design, not too much power. When the UI works, users can intuitive look for a feature and find it; even if they don’t know if the feature exists, they can usually guess where it would be if it does exist. MS has never really understood this, to the point where they started moving menu commands around trying to shuffle them under the users’ fingertips according to some algorithm someone in Redmond dreamed up. Elegance. Think elegance. The influence is painfully felt in Office 2008 when the UI designers have to have strata of buttons and toolbars and such and use different “pills” and “panes” and “tabs” just to keep them from visually all running together in some kind horrible control soup. There’s so much weight hanging over the document now, I fear for its poor, fragile life.

    The latter–the “ghettoization” of the Mac in MS culture, is inevitable I suppose. Despite the long history of Mac software driving innovation for MS (wasn’t Office itself first released for Mac?), the Mac BU can’t escape the party line. That leads to everything from the continued second-class citizenship of Entourage as an Exchange client (dare we hope this ends?) to features that emphasize solo work and pretty but incompatible features over enterprise-level features and compatibility. Let’s face it, that freelance graphic designer that MS seems to think all Mac users resemble is far better off using iLife and iWork as their everyday work suite. If they have a copy of Office is it to open documents from clients. You’re right that we don’t want our software to look like Windows software. We want it to look better, and work better, and do *more* than the Windows software. Let them run a “viewer” app to see the stunning work we do in Powerpoint and Excel, not the other way around.

    Thanks, and keep fighting!

  8. Wow, you guys reall took my advice on the new Launch icons. Back in May, I made this recommendation:


    May I make some recommendations on launch icons for Office ’08? Could you use the Flatness of the Office X gummy bear icons with the metallic finish of the Office 2004 icons?



    Thanks for listening, they look awesome, I bet will shine on the new Leopard Dock and the interface is so compelling with these up close screenshots. Must be a lot more convincing in person. I like that you still provide that fall back with the Drop Down menus after all, as you said it will help the user adjust more easily and experiment on their own time. Office 2008 is definitely visually rich and seems like run release to use. I envy all of you over at the MacBU. 🙂

    I can wait to read future post. 🙂

  9. raul says:

    It’s funny for all the bells and whistles I find myself staring at the tiny thumbnails trying to figure out if entourage is finally able to do live filtering with space delimited words… for example right now if I type in "bi gat" into entourage it will filter for items containing the exact string "bi gat" as opposed to what I want what I expect which is "bill gates."

    Fixes like super fast non-modal filtering, superfast search, etc mean so much more to me than the elements gallery… This said I certainly welcome the embrace of mac-like preferences etc.

    And speaking of Entourage why no Entourage screenshots? Feed us feed us!

  10. Question, is there an option to to turn off the Standard Toolbar labels? They are kinda too much and unsightly to me, keeping the UI as clean as possible is very important me.

    Just checked out some more shots, the Word Options dialog looks really awesome, I think it would have been better though if you used collapsible panels for quicker access and at the same time you could provide a short description of the applets purpose, but I can see the focus on user familiarity between the OS and applications which is good. This is something the Office for Windows team could follow.

    As for Jeff, I think you are looking too far and too deep. If you want Office for Mac 2008 to be an exact replica of Office 2007 for Windows, then I assume you also want Apple to do an exact replica of Windows Vista for Mac OS X. The point is, people want the functionality and compatibility with Office for Windows, but at the same time, they want it in a way they are accustomed to doing things on the Mac and the screenshots reflect that. The Mac has always been known for its just there approach, I think the Office for Mac Team is trying to deliver on that same principle.

    Yes, there are influences from Office 2007, but at the same time you see a more conservative approach thats done in a way a Mac user would say, I like this. Even Leopards Mail 3 Stationary has a similar feature to the Elements Gallery. Office 2008 clearly shows that this is a "Mac" version of Office that delivers a Mac experience. Users have been asking for that since Office 98 was released. The complaints I read how the Office Team for years just copied Office for Windows every pixel without thinking about the users needs from a Mac perspective. Word 6 was another point in case. As you rightly said, Microsoft Office came to the Mac first and the tradition continues, so why complain?

    I wouldn’t mind getting some scoop on Entourage ’08 though. 😉

  11. Kevin Soderburg says:

    What about the Mini-Toolbar found in Office 2007 for Windows?

    Please incorporate this very simple yet useful feature in the Mac version!!

  12. Andy K says:

    "Simply, Office for Mac is to look and behave like a great OS X application.  Menus, Toolbars, and Palettes still play an important role in defining the Mac experience so we’ve continued to evolve in these respective areas, while complimenting the core Mac-like UI with innovations like the Elements Gallery."

    I mentioned this in a comment in the previous post but, "Thankyou!"

    The Elements Gallery looks like it complements the menus and toolbars, rather than replacing them. And you say it’s also toggleable. This sounds like everything that 2007’s Ribbon should have been.

    I use Office 2007 at work, and although the Ribbon is a great idea I can’t get to grips of it as a primary/only interface. It requires me throwing out about thirteen years of familiarity across multiple programs and at least four different Operating Systems.

    But Office 2008 looks like it adds a new, more intuitive, interface without removing the one familiar to anyone who already knows how to use similar software.

    And it’s great news that the toolbars will be docked with the main application windows. My main issue with the UI in 2004 was that the toolbar would vanish when using another program, but I’d still instinctively just click the top of the window to reactivate it… instead activating Camino or iTunes or whatever.

    I’m still holding out for better Exchange integration, and hope that subsequent Office::Mac releases include some of the currently Windows-only applications. But I do also think that the new UI is a step forward, when it could so easily have been a step totally elsewhere. (i.e. Ribbon)

  13. Tomislav says:

    Any news on Office 2008 beta?


  14. Kevin Soderburg says:

    What about the Mini-Toolbar????

    This feature is new to Office 2007 for Windows.

  15. Brian says:

    Terrin said: "As a Mac user, I would prefer the MacBU to just give me the exact same version of Office as Windows user have."

    I think they tried this with Word 6 😉

    Anyway, This looks great. I’m curious as to why Entourage seems to be MIA. Oh, and can you please post a screenshot of Word not using this "Page Layout" mode? What is it going to look like using straight text? I am hoping it won’t look as cluttered. Thanks and great work!

  16. Markus says:

    Can you post screenshots how Office 2008 looks under Leopard with its "Dark Aqua"?

  17. Stephen says:

    You’re talking about the glass visual style as if it’s the major design trend for mac os x.

    But have you taken a look at Mac OS X 10.5, or iLife ’08 / iWork ’08?

    There’s no glass. Apple is clearly moving towards a more subtle gradient-styled interface. Instead of shooting for what was in fashion when office 2004 came out, why don’t you try to take design cues from the latest releases of Apple software?

  18. mac says:

    Wow. Very Impressed with the screenshots. MS Office finally looks like a mac product! Do you know if this will be included in the "Ultimate Steal" promotion once it comes out?

  19. Screenshots, screenshots!

  20. Dan says:

    You don’t get it, and people here drooling over the look of Office dont’ either.  

    This eye candy is nice but we want a full exchange client!!! Anything short of this is makes this product obsolete.   If you can’t do it explain why, but just constantly ignoring the request and never addressing it just frustrates your business users more.

  21. Adam says:

    where is micrsoft messenger for mac 7?

  22. nadyne says:

    Markus – Sorry, we can’t post any screenshots that involve Leopard.  Leopard is still under NDA. 🙂

  23. adam says:

    looks good, I look forward to the release 🙂

  24. Next says:

    Geez…MS wants to hug the Mac community then give them what they want! Personally, there are just no great advantage to being a lemmin…

  25. David says:

    Will there be right to left language support for Hebrew, Arabic, etc. in Mac Office 2008?  It works flawlessly in windows word, but on the mac I need to use Mellel, Pages or even freeware NeoOffice — all work great with cutting and pasting left to right Hebrew.  I hope that this will work in Mac Office as well.

  26. Noah Horton says:

    Native Growl integration would be a super-helpful element of more native Apple integration.  I know Growl is not technically part of the platform, but everyone I know uses it, and getting alerts through it would make Office a much better experience.

    (Yes, I know there are some 3rd-party AppleScripts to do this today, but I have had bad experiences with them)

  27. Andy from Finland says:

    Office 2008 looks really great and beautiful. Great new features. I’m anxiously looking forward to January! How about localizations, a Finnish version maybe?

  28. mattyohe says:

    Seeing what you did with the preferences pane is very nice.  Although, adding the "Ok" and "Cancel" buttons seems too windowsy.  Can’t you strike those and add back in the stoplight so it works like the program you are mimicking (System Pref)?

    I am curious to know how entourage is turning out as well.  Direct booking of resources?  Is that finally going to work?  (Please tell me we have moved away from webdav).

    (Also, nice work with teh AutoCorrect icon.)

  29. Ben says:

    The Autocorrect prefs icon is teh funny.

  30. Emmanuel Schanzer says:

    Han-Yi! Great to see you’re still cranking over in MacBU. I was wondering who was still around…

    The new office looks like a nice UI redesign – definitely a big improvement over Office 2004. I am a little curious about what the new *features* will be – someone already mentioned support for left-to-right languages, which I know goes back a long way. I still believe that the use of Styles as a tool for defining document structure is a holdover from the days when a good UI couldn’t be done, and that it wouldn’t take much to do it better. I’m also curious to see how/if Messenger has been integrated more tightly into the document-creation side of things, as a response to one of the easy wins that google has managed to pull off.

    Anyway, great work and I hope there’s more meat to come as we near ship date. Good luck!

  31. Josh says:

    You mention that you can change the color of the Elements Gallery to Graphite.  If I have Graphite selected in the global system preferences,   Will Office ’08 auto-detect this and set the Elements Gallery color to graphite by default?

  32. Alan says:

    I am seriously disappointed that Office 2008 for Mac won’t include the Ribbon.  I’ve tried it briefly in Office 2007 and was really looking forward to using it more extensively in the Mac version.  Mostly because the context-sensitive Ribbon seems to be based on the principles of the always-useful formatting palette.  The formatting palette will be included in Office 2008, of course, but it looks like us Mac users won’t be getting the Ribbon.  The Elements Gallery is certainly no substitute.  I have absolutely zero use for premade charts and tables and templates and so on…what I want is the control and flexibility to create my own.  I’m with Jeff on this one: if I wanted templates, I’d use Pages.  Sigh…I suppose I could use an emulator to run Office 2007…but I wanted the Ribbon in a native Mac app!

  33. Vish Tumu says:

    Excellent work guys. Here is the biggest ‘mistake’ you avoided in developing the new Office 2008 (keep in mind that I am an Office Developer for Windows): the Office Ribbon. Let me tell you that the new Office for Windows is a Mess in the ‘Adoption’ department and a lot of people I know (including myself) will not upgrade to the new Office for Windows because of the Ribbon – the Ribbon is a stupid mistake that Microsoft continues to make each year in one form or other – not only is the Ribbon ‘Ugly’, it uses up a lot of Real Estate and leave users confused – who in the World has the time to relearn Office?

    And to top it all, Microsoft continues to shoot itself in the foot by not providing a user manual, forgetting that lack of a user manual is the reason users cannot find features in Office – no doubt, there will soon be a ‘Ribbon 2.0’ to rectify the mistake with ‘Ribbon 1.0’, which in turn was developed to rectify the absence of a  User Manual since users have no way of knowing where to find features.

    I am glad the Mac BU is visionary and side-stepped the ‘Ribbon’ fiasco. Excellent work, especially with the new Page Layout feature. My strong recommendation is that you bring VBA support; otherwise, you are guaranteed to lose market share to the brilliant ‘Numbers’ and the even more brilliant ‘Keynote’. Perhaps, I should alert you to a simple fact: People like to use Office Mac primarily to interact with Office users on the Windows Platform – remove VBA and I might as well use iWork. I hope you will not allow this to happen, especially, after the hard work that has gone into developing Office for the Mac. Congratulations on not bringing the hideous ‘Ribbon’ to Office for Mac

  34. Zach says:

    Is there any possibility that custom content can be added to the Elements Gallery?  The odds that I’m going to use one of the default cover pages are low, but being able to add a standard corporate cover page to the toolbar would be useful indeed.

    What I’ve seen of the UI so far is generally good, with a few oddities – the modal preference dialog in particular is unlike any other application I’ve seen on OS X.  And, as many others have said, the ability to move the elements gallery to the side of the document would be immensely appreciated for those of us using widescreen monitors.

    However, Entourage’s absence from any of these photos is an increasingly glaring omission.  Trying to predict Entourage’s feature list from the screenshots and tidbits that have been released so far has a strong flavor of looking at Kremlin photos to see who’s been airbrushed out.  (There’s no purple chip in the “Glass” screenshot!  Is Entourage not glassy?  Is Entourage not purple?  Will Comrade Entourage suddenly take a leave of absence from the Politburo due to “unexpected ill health?”)  When talking about My Day in Entourage this April, Nadyne said “There’s more, and I can’t wait to tell you about it. Stay tuned.”  It’s now September.  We’re still tuned.  Would anyone care to follow through and tell us about “it?”

    Entourage predictions based on available evidence: Except for My Day and a reworking in the new Office color/icon scheme, Entourage receives no major interface improvements.  Some of the most egregious issues with the UI are fixed (the gigantic six-button mode selector in the upper left corner, the Apple-Help-Circa-1996 UI of the “New Project” wizard).  Those working with Exchange 2007 servers get improved, but not full, feature parity with Outlook.  Those working with Exchange 2003 servers get a few bug fixes and OOF.  I’ll give even odds that the toolbars and keyboard shortcuts are finally customizable, and heavy odds against Entourage implementing format=flowed and making it easy to properly quote plain-text messages.

    I’d dearly like to be proven wrong on any of the above points, and to learn that Entourage has been updated to be the be-all-end-all of Mac e-mail clients/contact managers/calendar programs/task organizers.  Given the dead silence we’ve had on Entourage features, however, I suspect that what we’re going to end up with is Entourage 2004 with a paint job, a service pack, and an Intel build.

    Oh, and to save a little time:

    #include ‘feature_parity_with_windows_rant.h’

    #include ‘exchange_support_rant.h’

    #include ‘file_converter_delay_rant.h’

    #include ‘vba_rant.h’

    #ifdef MSN_USER

    #include ‘messenger_av_rant.h’


    #ifdef PIGS_FLYING

    #include ‘access_mac.h’

    #include ‘visio_mac.h’

    #include ‘project_mac.h’

    #include ‘onenote_mac.h’

    #include ‘groove_mac.h’


  35. Just spent twice the time trying to get table rows in Word 2007 not to spread across page breaks that I would have had to spend in Word 2004–because it took two extra steps to get to Table Properties (finding the approrpiate Table button on the Word 2007 Ribbon).

    Took three times the effort to apply Space Before 12 point formatting to paragraphs in Word 2007–could only do it at all because 2007 imported one of my toolbars from Word for Mac 2004 as an “ad-in.”

    The Word 2008 interface absolutely must be easier to use than this stuff if Microsoft wants me to update to it.

    My time is worth money to me, and when I have tech document and news clients on deadline, they don’t have time for me to learn how to do things the new Microsoft way.

  36. Sam says:

    John, I have one thing to say – context menus.

    Both of those activities can be done by right-clicking the paragraph/table you wish to change, and selecting the appropriate option (Table Properties for the former, Paragraph for the latter).

    This has been possible for the at least the past 3 version of Office on Windows, and I find it’s the general way people do it. The ribbon now simply gives people an alternate way of doing it (searching the format/table menus in the old versions of Office for these options didn’t really cut it either).

    I’m not a massive Mac user, but I can certainly see why context menus don’t immediately come to mind. Just some simple OS UI differences 🙂

  37. Stephanie says:

    I would be interested to know whether the issue mentioned in the following thread, with regards to copy/paste, has been fixed:


  38. Denis R says:

    it looks great… I can’t wait for the test drive!

  39. Very good question – why not use from Context menus? Good point, but Context Menus don’t support all functions we are used to performing. And some longtime Office users are used to using menus and keyboard shortcuts, not mouse-clicking to work.

    Case in point about not all functions appearing in context menus: Inserting an entire file into a Word document. Used to be a simple matter of selecting FILE from the INSERT menu. Office 2007 insists on a new way:


    Symptoms: You want to insert text from another document into the document that you are working on, but you can’t find the Insert File command.

    Cause: The Insert File command has been renamed Text from File and moved to the Object menu on the Insert tab in Microsoft Office Word 2007.


    You want to insert text from another document into the document that you are working on, but you can’t find the Insert File command.


    The Insert File command has been renamed Text from File and moved to the Object menu on the Insert tab in Microsoft Office Word 2007.

    Resolution:  Use the Insert tab to access the Text from File command.


    Time is money. I guess no transition is easy. And Office 2007 does have add-ins to retrain die-hard users from earlier versions. 🙂

  40. George says:

    Definitely keep the ribbon.  I use Office 2007 in Parallels and it is light years ahead of anything in the old versions, Windows or Mac.   In fact, I think you are giving in too much by giving into the "Mac we’re different" thinking of people complaining about the ribbon.  The truth is, it works great and any watering down of it may ruin it.

  41. Responding briefly– context menus are great. Previous versions of Office in both Windows and Mac supported a variety of different work styles, including menus, keyboard shortcuts, and toolbars or ribbons combined with context menus. It would be good to see this support continue.

  42. Jeff says:

    Responding to Andre, I’m specifically *not* looking for Mac:Office to replicate Office 2007. Not at all! Yes, it should be equally powerful, and it should, for productivity sake, be feature-for-feature compatible. But I don’t care if it has an interface that’s anything like Office for Windows. I was judging the Mac interface on its own merits.

    Despite my comments above, the interface has improved considerably since I first saw it, so that’s good news. But I still think it feels clunky and cluttered. Andre makes the comparison to Stationery in Leopard’s Mail. Take a look at that app on Apple’s preview site: there’s no comparison in terms of visual elegance.

    More appropriately, take a look at the iWork ’08 apps. Open a spreadsheet in Numbers. There’s a lot of functionality exposed there, and yet the document is the central focus of the workspace. The 3-pane iTunes-like view gives you access to many functions and styles and options. The consolidated Inspector gives you control over the document’s elements. All without crowding the document itself.

    Compare to the preview of Excel: There are four different interface layers just above the document: toolbar icons, tabs, pills, and element icons! Sure they collapse, but, well, maybe it’s just me. The Formatting Palette continues to be a great feature, like the Inspector. It uses horizontal space that the typical portrait document isn’t going to fill. But the interface overall loads everything on top of the document, instead of around the document, when nearly everyone has a monitor that is wider than it is tall and they’re working on documents in portrait orientation. Not a great use of space.

    Anyway, I’ll stop now, but rest assured I don’t want Office for Windows and I don’t want them to just copy Apple (although they’d be pretty well-served to do so). Adobe has a pretty good visual paradigm with dockable palettes and such. Omni Group has a consistent, beautiful paradigm for its apps. Microsoft still hasn’t hit on something that raises the bar for everyone.

  43. Jordan says:

    Will there be access to the Office website at microsoft.com/office.  Currently Mac users are not allowed to download templates and sorts off the web through your portal.  I do not see why this is, but is it going to be corrected?

  44. Franco says:

    I must say, from what I have seen so far I am actually beginning to get excited about Office 2008. Finally a true Mac version of Office, something one doesn’t get irritated about each time he is looking at it. I spend a great deal of time staring at one or the other of the MS Office applications – a user interface that is pleasant to look at, in my opinion, is not an “eye candy” – it makes getting the work done quicker and easier.

  45. Ingobert says:

    Language support:

    I am using a German Version of Office 2004. Now living in the US my family often would like to switch to the Englisch User Interface.

    When I change the MacOsX Language, the complete operating system and all iApps and other applications change their language as well. MS Office cannot do this.

    My proposal for Office 2008 ist to add better user interface language support to allow changing the language or support 2 users with different preferred language settings.

  46. darkrats says:

    Are the screenshots of the toolbars actual size, or have they been magnified? If they are actual size, what was the screen resolution they were taken from? Thanks.

  47. Stevew says:

    I had massive problems getting Office 2004 in English to open an Excel file (heavily laden with VB) created in Office v.X Spanish version.

    In fact, the problems were of such a magnitud that the file just wouldn’t work correctly. There was absolutely no way to find a solution to the problem and I even posted on the blog of someone at the MacBU who delivered the news that VB on the Mac was dead in this new version of Office. It seems that someone totally screwed up the localisation of the Spanish version of Excel and it looks like certain keywords that shouldn’t have been localised actually were localised, breaking stuff in the process. I’m guessing of course because I never managed to get anyone to give me a decent explanation.

    Then, Spanish mac users were refused a version of the Catalan dictionary which was in the Windows version of Office from the get go. Was it really so hard to make it available for Mac users? We waited YEARS for that one and as of writing it STILL isn’t available.

    To cut a long story short, Office 2008 for the mac might look nice but Microsoft has already lost me and thousands more as clients.

    The regional government that controls the region where I live REQUIRES the use of Catalan in everyday situations (education etc), has a population of over 6,000,000. The lack of a Catalan dictionary for Catalan Mac users is a HUGE issue but the Mac BU doesn’t seem to care.

  48. Phil Russell says:

    Please implement Outlook categories (along with the same category colors) in Entourage.  I work in a mixed Windows/Mac environment, and Entourage’s lack of support for categories is a show stopper.  If Entourage 2008 doesn’t have categories, I’ll be left running Outlook 2007 under Parallels.  Or is that what you guys would prefer that I do anyway?

  49. See that the pricing has been set for Office 2008:

    Home and Student: $149

    Standard: $399

    Special Edition with Expression Media: $499

  50. Gene says:

    Well. Every Mac now has a wide screen display, meaning that the screen is wider than it is tall. And rather than understanding this, MS keeps adding more and more clutter to the tops of windows, reducing the amount of usable space in the window.

    When this product finally ships, how much room will I have in the window to, say, oh, I don’t know… type a letter?

  51. Paul says:

    Wow! This looks promising!

    The feature I am most eager for is the bibliography feature. But everything l’ve seen looks like a major improvement over the old Office apps.

    But… there is another feature that would be even more important and that is the possibility to import PDF files. I mean the possibility to place and print PDF graphics insine say a Word document, not only a bitmap preview like in Office 2004. Oh, please, will it be possible to import PDFs in Office 2008?

  52. John says:

    Here’s where I stand with Office 2008.

    Nothing MBU does to Word and Excel can cause me to upgrade. I am happy with Word and Excel from several iterations ago.

    The one thing that can cause me to upgrade is the email program, simply because it is my number one software. Therefore, if Entourage 2008 can import from Outlook, then I’ll buy Office 2008 just for the new Entourage.

    If it cannot import from Outlook, then I’m staying with my earlier version of Office Mac.

  53. David says:

    The lack of decent bidirectional language support is very, very  frustrating. The old excuses — lack of bidi support in OSX — are no longer valid. Will we have to wait however many more years for it, until Office 2012 or whatever it will be?

  54. MBU – nice work! Just be sure to throw the “long document from hell” test at Word to assess stability and performance with book-length manuscripts with complex page layouts.

  55. Mike says:

    Office Team,

    Thanks for the sneak peaks… keep them coming (especially screenshots or advanced Excel data tools).  One suggestion I have from looking at the Elements Gallery is to keep the order of tabs the same across Office.  For example, Word and PowerPoint’s tabs end with: Charts, SmartArt Graphics, and WordArt.  Excel however switches the order to Carts, WordArt, and SmartArt Graphics.  It would be better for these to be in the same order to promote a more consistent user experience across all Office apps. .

  56. Xavier says:

    Of course, I’d prefer keep vba, but at least, it is possible to make apple scripts instead of macros, or to translate VBA macros into applescript.

    I’ve made with VBA my own functions. Such as Inventory (Date, ItemRef) or Revenue (Client, Date1, Date2) etc. so that everyone at the office can easily make a report on a spreadsheet.

    If I can’t use or translate these functions with Office 2008, I definetly will not upgrade.

  57. awilam ša šarrim says:

    Will there, or will there not finally be support for  bidi bidirectional arabic hebrew right-to-left?  This is absurd. Doesn’t anyone know?

  58. Ed says:

    I see this might be a polarizing issue since some seem to like the office 07 ribbon UI, and others don’t.

    I personally applaud your decision to design the app appropriate for the platform and am liking what I see.  I too need integration and cross support with my mostly windows colleagues, and our exchange environment, but I think the two can be reconciled and you guys are on the job!

  59. Heather says:

    Based on the screenshots I like what I am seeing with Office 2008 and am looking forward to a Universal application.  But, like other people, I am not seeing a lot of changes to Entourage.  As I mentioned in another post My Day is only really useful if the calendar in Entourage is worth using.  So far it is the one area where I have found things to be weak.  At least in iCal I can have multiple calendars (and therefore colors) for work, home, sports that I follow, etc.  Even in Outlook now you can have multiple calendars that can be overlayed.  It would be really nice if Entourage would allow you to subscribe to remote calendars and import .ics files.  The calendar is the one limitation I find and it does give me a bit of pause in the application…. almost makes me feel like I should run Parallels and Office 2007.  Almost.

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