Office 2007 Ribbon Interface
One of the onerous tasks with working on a startup is the sheer amounts of documents you have to churn out. Design documents, functional specifications, action lists, letters, presentations etc. Instead of getting the latest MS Office, I decided I can skimp and just use Open Office. I have been hearing a lot of good stuff about it and thought that it is going to suit my requirements exactly.
Agreed, it is an amazing piece of software (especially considering it is Open source, and I am a fan), but in terms of just day-to-day usability, it slowly aggravated me till I gave up. Don’t get me wrong, it works fine, but it is the small things.. For e.g. you can be typing in Impress and then you would press “Enter” to enter the next bullet point. The next bullet point would appear but with the bullet point looking larger then normal. I would spend some time futzing around till I got it right. Small things. Minor things. But doing these over and over made me give up.
I went and bought the latest version of Office 2007.
Now, I have used several versions of Office and it always surprised me how usable Office 2000 was/is. One could continue to run Office 2000 and still essentially get the same functionality. I always wondered how people would even upgrade to the next version, since Office 2000 still worked pretty well.
Office 2007 changes all that.
With this version, MS took a big risk and rewrote it to use the “Ribbon” interface and after using it for a couple of months now, I have to say this interface brings Office to a whole new level. Instant previews of formatting, one-click document styles (with preview), context based options work very well together to bring about a ease of use that was lacking before. The UI has been so streamlined, the behaviours so consistent that the UI is a joy to use. There is simply no competition. Open office, for example competes with Office 2000-2003 but is not in the same class as 2007.
Many talk about the imminent death of PC based office suites, citing the growing availability of Online Office suites, but I am not sure if these folks have actually edited a complex document bigger than 5 pages in an online suite. It is pure agony.
Office 2007 UI is a work of art. Well done!
PS: Now my question is can Microsoft top this in the next version to make people upgrade?