MS Office 12's Incredible New UI

Ariya sent an email to the KOffice list today passing along this link to an interview with the program lead for MS Office 12's new UI. All I can say is WOW. This is stunning stuff. A colossal change and, IMO, a great one. They have taken an incredibly complex app and eliminated all of the menu's _without_ eliminating the functionality. They've also made it so that none of the functionality is hidden.

Here's a screenshot:

New Office 12 UI Screenshot

Now, I haven't actually played with it, so it might come off worse in practice (perhaps the hit to screen realestate is just too much for laptop users for instance), but I have to applaud their courage.

We have to show similar courage for KDE4. No, not to eliminate our functionality, hide it or rock our users, but to develop something compelling :)

Can you imagine if we could take apps like Konqueror, KDevelop, KWord (insert-favorite-complex-KDE-app-here) and eliminate the menus while still delivering and presenting all of the functionality... the mind boggles.


Totally way way out there. And totally stupid move too. Duh. Retraining cost? Yes. Mind boggles. Wallet buckles... I mean, there's nothing wrong with menu-oriented interfaces. And there is nothing wrong with task oriented interfaces either. But let's not get carried away please and throw away the baby with the proverbial bathwater.

By Ruurd Pels at Fri, 09/23/2005 - 13:59

Absolutely ruurd! Let's make sure to "Woe!" and "Beware!" to any company or small business who wants to switch from MS Office to or KOffice too. Otherwise, ... retraining costs... wallet buckles ... blah, blah ...

Same goes for switching from MS Windows to KDE too I guess :(

No, better to never make any improvements or make any switches lest the user might have to learn something new...

By Adam Treat at Fri, 09/23/2005 - 14:06

> No, better to never make any improvements or make any switches lest
> the user might have to learn something new...

That is in fact exactly how most companies feel. Why do you think most people are still running windows 2000 and office 2000? Why do you think microsoft want to move to a subscription model?

By Richard Moore at Fri, 09/23/2005 - 14:52

What if the switch will piss off MS Office users and make them switch to OpenOffice to lower migration costs.

I do not not think that the new interface is good. My problem with Word stays the same:
* footnotes
* picts in large docs
* embedded objects

this switch is too radical for Microsoft. The customers will not like it.

By elektro at Sat, 09/24/2005 - 21:42

Whats so special about this? All i see are a bunch of tabbed DockWidgets(or what ever microsoft calls it). I mean i hope we will get tabbed DockWidgets with kde4, but i tought they where used in many MS products before ;).

But if you want exactly the same layout in KOffice PLEASE don't remove they old toolbars/dialog system. This way, if you like the new layout, you could easely disable the toolbars/menubar and just drag your DockWidgets in place - but the old UI would still be useable.

For many users this new layout just takes to much space. Especially on small resolutions.

By siberianhotdog at Fri, 09/23/2005 - 14:11

Did you watch the video? She explains what is so special about it. Namely, all of her users were reporting that while they could use Office "Ok" everyone felt like they were missing something. That they hadn't mastered the application. We have the exact same problem in KDE. We have so many damn features that no one ever knows about because they are hidden behind layers and layers of dialogs and obscure menus. This does away with that and makes it all very upfront and clear. That is the benefit. By doing away with the menus it and making sure the toolbars are very clear and well layed out the user is presented instantly with all the options in a clear manner. Mind you, I haven't actually played with it, but it sure looks cool and the idea is pretty radical and cool IMO.

"For many users this new layout just takes to much space. Especially on small resolutions."

And you'll notice this is the one qualm I mentioned in my little peance ;)

By Adam Treat at Fri, 09/23/2005 - 14:25

Btw, the whole area that the "dock widgets" appear in have an auto hide feature, lock feature or stay hidden. Similar to what you can do with a taskbar/kicker.

By Ryan Nickell at Fri, 09/23/2005 - 17:06

A bit more on the Office 12 GUI from "Jensen Harris: An Office User Interface Blog"

By KDE-Linux-User at Fri, 09/23/2005 - 15:41

I as thinking this whole new UI thingy is cool. Yeah, no more tedious menu browsing to find what e are looking for since everything is opened right under our nose. But somehow, I am still thinking that there will be needed some effort to lok for which button we should push. There are lots of button there. Until user had remember all button they need, there will be confusion: Where's that "X" feature button? ..

Or is it me who are lost in space?

By toni at Fri, 09/23/2005 - 17:20

I'm glad to see that I was not the only one that liked this new step in UI design.
As you have already pointed out this is something that will have to be tested before it's praised as a new innovation but it surely was a great idea.
My problem however is that it will break the interface design of the rest of the desktop. I mean, every other windows application will surely be different interface-wise from the office. Isn't that a bad thing?
Anyway, I hope KDE4 will go to a whole new level like Office will :)

By elias pouloyiannis at Fri, 09/23/2005 - 21:04