The Computer Blog

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Is Office 2008 Already a Bust?

I’ve been using Office 2007 for a little while now, and I’ve written about how impressed I have been with the new interface design. So, when MacWorld Expo was running about a month ago, I was really interested in seeing if Microsoft would release any details about Office 2008, the new updated version of Office for the Mac. They did.

The more I think about what I saw, however, the more I wonder about whether Microsoft may have taken the wrong direction with it. Most of the redesign seems to have focused on making Office competitive with Apple’s Pages. In doing so, at least based on the screenshots I’ve seen, Microsoft may have created a product that will sell but not be the “Wow!” product it could have been. Office 2008 would sell a fair number of copies just because it was a Universal Binary and may do just because of that, but I’m not one of the customers who will bite just because of it.

That’s not to say we won’t have any copies here in the house. My wife most certainly will want the new version and she’s a university professor, so we’ll grab the Student and Teacher Version if it exists (and there is every sign it will). I’ll at least take a look at the new version based on that.

In the Windows version of Office, the goal of the new Ribbon interface was to unmask the myriad commands and make it easier for the user to find the ones he wanted. The interface in Office 2008 looks like it was designed to make templates and desktop publishing features easier to get to at the expense of interface simplicity and screen space, since there now seems to be at least one or two extra rows of buttons between the topmost toolbar and the document. If I’m right, then Microsoft has taken the Mac version of Office in the wrong direction. I’d like to be able to explore that, but there are no beta copies of the software on the web. I suspect there won’t be, so I’ll probably have to wait for the product’s release before I can tell for sure.

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