Martin @ Blog

software development and life.


Office 12 user interface

Microsoft has revealed some screenshots of the new version of Microsoft Office. It is a tradition at MS that every Office version has a new interface, which is preferrably different from all current Windows applications which are available. The result of this is that there has never been an Office version which follows Microsoft own rules on user interface design for a specific Windows version.
But in my opinion they took the interface this time a step further. Especially when you look at the screenshot of Word (here and here). I can impossible imagine that a non-techical user easily find its way in this userinterface. The topbar (which is a mixture of a toolbar and a menu) is very cluttered. The concept of a toolbar is lost, because there are large chunks of text. The buttons are of different sizes and there are far to many buttons. The menu is also not very clear. To make it ‘easier’ they decided to change the whole concept of menus. All menu items which we currently know (file, edit, view, tool) are dissapeared and replaced with not very obvious ones. It looks to me that the menu itmes are very specific for a text editor, and therefore it is impossible to create a uniform feel across the operating system, because every application has a totally different menubar.
In my opinion the best userinterface for every application is the one which has as few buttons as possible. Apple Pages is a step in the right directoin (although not perfect), Abiword is (certainly for an open source applications) also doing a good job, but Microsoft seems to totally lost its way. It is a lot more logical to use preformatted items, such as default headers, instead of allowing the user to change every letter to a different font and size. Word is promoting this last option, and it seems that it is not very likely that this will change in the new version.
As a final note, I also like to mention the ‘looks’ of the new interface. To me it looks like a playmobil user interface. It does not look professional, mainly because of the strange blue/purple color of the interface and the looks of the icons. Of course this is personal. It seems I’m not the only one who thinks the user interface of Office 12 isn’t perfect when you look at the comments on the story about it on (Dutch).

Comments are closed.