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One of my favorite recent blogs is Jensen Harris' excellent blog on the Office 12 user experience. As a former (and still occasional) instructor, I am very interested to see how they've re-thought almost the entire user interface for the next version of Office.

I wasn't fortunate enough to get picked for the Beta 1 for Office 12, however. (Actually, its worse than that. I didn't even bother to sign up because I thought the Beta 1 would be available to MSDN subscribers. Oops.)

I was very interested to see the first off the new reviews on Beta 1.

Here's my favorite review at WindowsAtoZ.

It starts out somewhat promising:

Some of the new features to Office 12 include XML-based file formats (there is an "x" added to every Office file format now), a "ribbon" at the top replacing tradition drop-down menus and improved workflow between Office applications. Without a doubt, the most apparent change to Office is the ribbon-style menu at the top of most Office 12 programs. The old drop-down menus that included File, Edit, View and so on are gone from Office 12 and they are not even available as an interface option if you wanted them. At first we were a bit confused and baffled at how the ribbon menu worked, but with a few uses, we were able to get the hang of it.

But then they start talking about the individual products:

Word 12:

The only really big improvement to Word 12 is the ribbon menu at the top...

Excel 12:

As with Word 12, the only real change to Excel 12 is the interface.

I think I speak for everyone when I say: did you do more than just install and open the software before writing this review?? Looks like their primary goal was to get the very first Office 12 Beta 1 review up on the web!!

Ok, putting myself in the reviewer's shoes--if I was seeing Office 12 for the very first time, never having read anything about the changes, the new “ribbon” interface is certainly the first thing you would notice. But how can you say that Excel 12 hasn't gone through other significant changes???? Mr. unnamed reviewer--here are a few that might be important to mention: (From David Gainer's Blog)

  • Uh, how about increasing the available size of each spreadsheet by a factor of over ONE THOUSAND. (now 1,048,567 rows by 16,384 columns - some other interesting new numbers discussed here)
  • Oh, and some very dramatic changes to conditional formatting, allowing some pretty spiffy one-click applications.
  • Some very cool new ways to work with tables of data, including some extremely easy one-click formatting.
  • Server-based Excel Services, allowing business to host a complex Excel spreadsheet as a server application, utilizing either web access or programatic web services access to the data.
  • Oh, and some very purty new chart styles, available as default styles

Ok, I can see that there are a couple of these that you might not notice the instant you open the application, but how about going to Help, What's New or something like that before you simply say

As with Word 12, the only real change to Excel 12 is the interface.

Haven't seen as much blogging activity on the Word side, although I'm keeping my eyes on Joe Friend's blog, now that Beta 1 is out. Is that his real name, or just how he likes people to think of him? :)

Even so, we still have a pretty significant list of things that we know have changed in Word 12: (From Jensen Harris' blog)

  • New Ribbon (ok, you actually mentioned this one. Good job, unnamed WindowsAtoZ reviewer!)
  • Galleries. Jensen says that galleries are “debatably the single most important concept in the Office 12 UI.” I tend to agree, although part of what makes it work so well is the next item:
  • Live Preview. YES. About time. Exponentially better experience.
  • Floatie. Ok, the MiniBar. But floatie sounds so cute...

And what does the review say again?? Oh.  “The only really big improvement to Word 12 is the ribbon menu at the top”

The reviewer does mention the new graphical effects used in Powerpoint, but makes absolutely no mention of the ABSOLUTE OVERHAUL OF ACCESS. Oh, sorry. Shouting for a moment there.

I'm not a MS employee. I don't work on this product. I didn't even make the beta list, so I've never actually touched the new product myself. But Office 12 has got me more excited about a product than I've been in a long time.

If you REALLY want to find out what's happening in Office 12, don't go to WindowsAtoZ. You owe it to yourself to:

I'd also love to start seeing some frequent traffic from someone about the new Word and PowerPoint!


Posted on Tuesday, November 22, 2005 9:17 PM Office 12 | Back to top

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Comments on this post: Worst Office 12 review ever

# re: Worst Office 12 review ever
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"No more menus."

Therefore every corporation will have to retrain every employee to use the new software.

Net result: employees who can word process and use a spreadsheet.

Increased profit to business: zero.

Office 12 is dead in the water if you look from a business perspective and not a technical one.
Left by Jim Clark on Jan 08, 2006 2:18 AM

# re: Worst Office 12 review ever
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Its a fairly general assumption that big changes will always require massive retraining.

It is true that companies don't always upgrade right away. I still work with plenty of big businesses that still use Office 2000. (I don't think I still have any on Office 97, anymore). This one shouldn't be any different in that respect.

Companies will upgrade when they see a compelling reason to do so. I think, for the first time in about 10 years, Microsoft really is giving users that reason.

But from what I'm learning about Office 12, the redesign really might make it radically EASIER to find what you need, actually reducing the need for extensive training.

We'll have to see how it all pans out.
Left by Brad Corbin on Jan 08, 2006 8:28 PM

# re: Worst Office 12 review ever
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For as long as your company can do stuff without any problem with your old-version softwares, then there's no reason at all to buy and install them.

But as a student of Information Technology, Ive installed this product for academic reason cause i dont want to be left out in the new trend of software interfacing and to be honest, i like the interface and shortcuts it can do.
Left by Miro Enriquez on Oct 13, 2008 9:12 PM

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