Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
Office Vista - a first look
Published on May 13, 2006 By Draginol In

The next major version of Microsoft Office, (Office 2007 but what I'll affectionately call "Office Vista") is the single biggest change to come to Microsoft Office since, well, as far back as I can remember.  The problem the Microsoft team was coming up against is that Office had gotten so complicated, so "bloated" and so complicated that most new feature requests made by users were for features already part of the package.

The new Office includes a new user interface across all the programs that make up the suite.  The title bar has been altered to have its own unique glass style with buttons that make use of the most common features of the application.  The menu bar has been largely jettisoned and replaced by what are being called "Ribbons". Until I saw the most recent version of the beta, I was skeptical as to whether this was going to work out.  But having seen it in action, I am converted. It really is slick.  Gone are the "we know what you want" type UI behaviors and in its place are interfaces that streamline the entire experience.

The ribbons allow users to do the kinds of things that most people want to do with as little work as they need.  Power users in particular can be happy that there are tons of options that can greatly speed up common tasks.

The next version of Office will run both Windows Vista and Windows XP.  On Windows XP, it looks a bit different (and in my opinion) quite fantastic.

As the above screenshot implies, blog posting (source: Microsoft's Joe Friend - not under NDA) is one of the features of Microsoft Word.  While not good news necessarily to the third party programs that allow people to compose blog posts, it is good news to most users.  When  a user decides to create a blog with Microsoft Word, it takes care of the uploading of images and everything else to make the entire thing relatively painless.

And don't worry about what you upload being a bunch of whacky HTML, the Office team is working to ensure that what gets uploaded is the cleanest possible HTML.

The release date for Microsoft Office 2007 has not been announced officially. But beta 2 is due "soon".  I don't know about you but I'm very excited.  For years, Microsoft has kind of sat on its laurels with Office, adding bloat and complexity to it.  Now, Microsoft seems very serious about going back and reinventing the world's most popular suite of office applications.


Comments (Page 1)
on May 13, 2006
I saw a MS video presentation of this a few months ago and I must agree..
This is going to be a major improvement. I'm looking forward to it as well.
on May 13, 2006
Since it doesn't actually add any major functions, this (LONG overdue) interface refresh version should be Microsoft's opportunity to bring those of us still running Office 97/2000/etc. up to date. But, following the current trends we are seeing this year from MS, I expect the new Office to come at prices that are greater than the entire computer systems they run on - and with a plethora of purchasing options such that no one will know what they are really buying or why (or even if they own anything at all for their money).

I also expect the registration/authentication to be brought up to the Vista level, slowing wide-spread adoption even further.

Sorry to be so negative but, as an MS fanboy, spokesman, and beta tester since NT on MIPS, even I've been really disappointed by Microsoft's "lack of new features", "jack up the prices", and "punish the legitimate users" stance this year. They've got the unchallenged, unregulated monopoly now and they are running with it.

It really is a shame Linux sucks so tremendously in so many ways. If Apple could/would release OS X for existing PCs, even I'd have to consider getting off the Microsoft treadmill these days.

As it is, this will be the first time I won't be paying to upgrade all of my computers to their next rev of OS. Vista offers nothing for anything except one of my computers (my main one) and at those prices, there's no way I'm paying more than once. The same goes for office. One license. I'll leave my other 2 as is.
on May 13, 2006

The "ribbon" instead of menu and toolbar is a great idea, and real time change viewing will be great.

On the top of my "to get" list.

on May 13, 2006
Release date not announced; that's because it's being held back by the dogs breakfast formally known as Vista!!!
on May 13, 2006
Looks good. I'll be sticking to my 2002 version though. I won't be spending money just for looks

Posted via WinCustomize Browser/Stardock Central
on May 13, 2006
It looks very interesting and snappy but I doubt that my home budget will be up for the pricetag. Right now I am using Open Office and I am quite pleased with it's features (especially since it's free).
on May 13, 2006
I really like the palette that comes up on the side with Office for Mac, and have a great deal of difficulty dealing with its absence on Office XP. This ribbon thing seems much like an extension of that idea. Depending on the price I might even actually buy a copy of the vista version.
on May 13, 2006
You're obviously a token Microsoft fanboy Draginol. The new Office is nothing but ugly and cumbersome looking. A pathetic attempt compete with OSX's much more professional looking interface.
on May 13, 2006
You're obviously a token Microsoft fanboy Draginol. The new Office is nothing but ugly and cumbersome looking. A pathetic attempt compete with OSX's much more professional looking interface.
on May 14, 2006
You're obviously a token Microsoft fanboy Draginol. The new Office is nothing but ugly and cumbersome looking. A pathetic attempt compete with OSX's much more professional looking interface.


What's you doing here, Mac fanboy?

That looks great! I'm glad I didn't get office 2003 since I usually skip each other version of office. I'm been running linux as main OS on my homework laptop for quite a while, and I love it, but it can't hold a candle to windows in ease of use.
on May 14, 2006
For anyone interested in knowing more indepth about the Office UI have a look at their blog: http://blogs.msdn.com/jensenh/default.aspx
on May 14, 2006
Looks good. I'll be sticking to my 2002 version though. I won't be spending money just for looks


Really? And you buy Stardock products for what reason?

Just kidding! Actually I understand your point and agree. With Stardock products you don't need to pay MS for looks when you can create your won. Let's hope there is a lot more than just the look going on here.
on May 14, 2006
Nothing like a good kick in the butt to get things going again. This is a good poster case for what happens when a company grows so large it kills all the competition. Once this happens, innovation invariably suffers and products become stagnant. This, in turn and over time, is the opportunity other smaller companies need to put their foot through the door. The sleeping giant suddenly awakes to find OSX playing on its backyard.

What I find really troublesome is Microsoft's trend, as Excalpius pointed out, of jacking up prices while at the same time forcing legit users to go through many hoops to keep their OS up and running. From what I've been reading all over the net, this does next to nothing to stop piracy but it is managing to piss a lot of people, specially legit users!

One thing every shareware author has learned is that it's quite ok to enforce anti-piracy measures AS LONG AS THEY DO NOT INCONVENIENCE THE LEGIT USER. Start adding stuff like tying your software to the hardware it runs on and watch your sales go way down as a result (and you better have a well prepared support channel, because you will spend most of your time dealing with the problems caused by your decision to do this)!

Most of us will buy a music CD and then make a copy so we can listen to it on the car and on our HiFi at home without having to carry the CD with us all the time. Although illegal, this has always been tolerated and I would personally consider it fair use: as far as I know, no band ever went out of business because of it.

Microsoft is trying to make sure the same thing does not happen with their software - all fine and dandy if each additional license of the OS cost $50-$75 or so, but no, Microsoft is eager and wants hundreds of dollars per additional license, as can be seen here:

http://shop.microsoft.com/special/wal/walinfo.asp#pricing

There is no way a father of 3 can justify spending that much money to put XP on each of his kid's computers. In the end, Microsoft may have made a few extra bucks, but it also managed to alienate its current user base in the process. That's a dangerous move, if you ask me.
on May 14, 2006
I attended the Microsoft Office Developers Conference in Redmond about a month ago - they were really pushing Office and its new stuff.
Here are some notes that wasn't mentioned above:

1. Office files will now have a new Format - and hence a new Extention- pretty much all Office docs will have the same extention as their old ones (.ie .doc, .xls, .so on) but with an 'x' at the end
so .doc is not .docx , .xls is now .xlsx

2. The NEW Office files are actually ZIP files - which does alot of thing - all positive - with a couple negatives:
a. The file sizes are MUCH smaller.
b. The Files data can now be manipulated by ANYTHING that can parse XML (the data is stored as XML) - this is a big boost for Server side processing (no more COM out to start an EXCEL process to update data into an XLS worksheet )
c. Older Office programs (I believe 97 and up) would have to download a FREE viewer/converter to get into new format.
d. Performance of marshalling the data - this is unknown - I am sure its not cheep to zip/unzip etc everytime - I did notice some lag time when they were running their demos.

3. Ribbons! Boy were they pushing this - and it is pretty cool - from an Office Developers standpoint - you could build a whole Ribbon interface for Word, lets say , and no other items - no File/Edit/View - just your Ribbon - which if you are a Developer or inhouse staff and want to build a custom form for someone - this makes it much nicer.
Again - this can be manipulated from a Server side process - pretty slick stuff.

Now, If I can just convince my clients to upgrade their 10,000 PCs that are running on Win 95


on May 15, 2006
99% of the current users don't need a new file format and don't own or care about software for parsing XML. If the free viewer converter doesn't work as a seamless plugin for office, it will just piss off a whole lotta people to have to deal with YET ANOTHER MS file format. I like that it is non-proprietary though.

File size doesn't matter anymore for office documents, with the price of HD space so low. Seriously, MPG, AVI, HD files, etc. take tons of drive space. Excel and word docs...bah. We can already get the exact same space savings by just setting the documents directory to be compressed in XP. Similar compression ratio, faster decompression, so archive file format management required...zero learning curve.

Ribbons sound good. I'd like to see an option to use this on the side (left or right) instead of the top or (presumably) the bottom.
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