First Impressions of Office 2007

I just watched a Microsoft video preview of Office 2007. I was impressed with the new “Ribbon” concept to replace all the old toolbars and menus. When I say all, I mean all! Finally, the “File” menu is gone! I think it looks quite nice, and it shouold save us from being drowned in an ocean of dialogs. I’ve written a few GUIs in my day, and it’s challenging to write a complex GUI that doesn’t overwhelm the user with dialogs and windows. Kudos to Microsoft on this one.

I do, however, have two gripes that go to the very heart of what I consider a quality user interface, from which Microsoft software has suffered for years. Read on for some good old fashioned gripes…

Gripe 1: The same poor quality art.

The video demonstrated some Excel charts, where you could make “great looking charts” with a single button click, and yet, the charts looked like something out of Office 97. I’ve come to expect this from Office, but I just figured they would have fixed it by now. This is definitely fixable.

Grip 2: The same old flicker.

In the video they draw an oval in PowerPoint. The whole time the user is dragging the oval into place, it flickers like crazy. Then, when the user is done sizing it, there is 1 second of lag while the final oval is painted. During this lag time, there is nothing on the screen, the old, dragging oval is gone, and the new one has not yet been drawn yet. There is no excuse for flicker and lag anymore, especially in content creation software like PowerPoint.

I’ve had these same two complaints for 10 years. Then I saw Apple’s KeyNote for the first time. All you have to do is watch Steve Jobs devlier a presentation using KeyNote once, and you will wonder what Microsoft has been spending all that revenue on. KeyNote is beautiful. It doesn’t flicker, and the artwork is eye popping gorgeous. It’s sexy eye candy at its best. On top of all that, they’ve made it innovative. It’s not just about creating slides.

2 comments to “First Impressions of Office 2007”

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  1. The truth is, I haven’t seen much if anything that has improved in Office since 95. Really. When you consider how few changes have been anything other than just a paint job, it’s no wonder people like me haven’t been forking out the $$ for upgrades.

  2. I have been beta testing Office 2k7 for a couple months now and love it. Would I pay the money for an upgrade, probably not. The ribbon interface is very nice once you get used to it. My concern (as an IT guy) is the learning curve of my users. That being said I am glad Microsoft is taking a step forward.
    I agree that the flickering is annoying. I have no idea why it happens it seems likes a trival thing to fix. I don’t know what the lag when they dropped the oval. I just tried it out and there was no lag at all.