Glimpses of big change in Office 12

September 29, 2005

About 2am last night I was about to crash when I stumbled upon this video demo of the Office 12 UI. Wow! I’m really impressed with the guts to make changes on this scale and think the results look great. IMO, the screenshots don’t do the changes justice at all.

Watching people struggle with various Office programs through an MBA, the more adept users normally just sigh and take control of document creation or clean up. So any changes that make the capabilities easier to access or explain is a good thing.

It was also great to hear how much useful information Microsoft gathers from their customer experience program. For example, around 70-90% of clicks in Word are on the standard toolbar.

It’s interesting to see that Review has been raised in importance to having it’s own top level Tab in the Ribbon UI. This gels with the apparent focus on team authoring in Office 12, building on the success of Sharepoint which was strongly integrated in Office 2003. For Office 11, the Sharepoint team was moved into the Office team. For Office 12, the Content Management Server team was moved into the Office team as well. On top of that, Groove has been added to Microsoft over the previous year.

With Office 2003, Sharepoint was added to the mix. Over the last 3 years it’s grown massively in popularity for Intranet solutions. Office 12 will take a while to filter through, but I’m expecting dramatic changes to the enterprise content and workflow landscape.