Anil is right about MS Office 2007

Anil Dash is right: MS Office 2007 is a ballsy upgrade. I have to admit that when I saw screenshots of the new ribbon UI, I thought it looked snazzy but didn’t think it would make a difference. After all, one of the surest ways to make a minor upgrade appear more substantial is to change how the toolbars look – something that Office has done with every version.

But I’ve been using the beta for a couple of weeks, and I’m impressed. I wrote a few design documents with the new Word 2007, and I kept finding little changes that made a big difference (like how mousing over a style gives you a preview of how that style will affect the current selection).

Usability is the most important feature of any application, and the improved usability of the new MS Office is by far its best new feature. I agree with Anil that Microsoft has made a risky bet by so radically changing Office’s UI, and it’s a bet that will pay off.

PS: Anil is also right that Jenson Harris has the best Microsoftie blog – I read every new post he writes, a claim I can make for only a handful of blogs.

2 thoughts on “Anil is right about MS Office 2007

  1. I agree, the UI is very powerful in 2007. Anyone who says MS doesn’t innovate need only play with the new office for half an hour. Kudos to them, it definitely raises the bar (and watch it get copied by OO and Apple).

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  2. I have looked at the UI and share some of your delight in the UI changes. But then I looked at a few other factors that leave me wondering about the impact of the changes.
    First, I notice that the ribbon bars take up a lot of screen space. That not a major issue for me becuse I run dual monitor with a portrait mode for word processing. Still, there is a lot of clutter that distracts from the clean sheet of paper concept for capturing thoughts and ideas. What percent of writing in a business environment needs the visual clues and customization that the tool provides. I suspect the number is small.
    Finally, from a corporate point of view, my 400 users will be clamouring for the upgrade because of the new UI (likely few will make extensive use of the new features) and I need to justify the productivity gain against the cost of upgrading. We are not on software assurance so I need to pay almost full price to upgrade.
    When Corporate laptops are costing me $Cdn 1,200, an office upgrade is very expensive. I think that MS is not going to see a lot of upgrades in sites that are not on software assurance. With the change in file formats, life will become miserable for IT departments. When those factors are put into consideration, the new product becomes a classic good news/ bad news story, and that’s a shame considering the effort that went into making the product.
    I think that it also shows that this category is reaching the point of diminishing returns. I can see why Microsoft is resisting ODF file stnndardization. It’s one of the few levers that keep their customers bound to their products.

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