updated 11:30 am EDT, Mon April 2, 2007
Glimpse of Office 2008
Microsoft's Mac Business Unit (MacBU) is testing the latest revision of Office 2008 for Mac via private betas, but let slip some details about the new software to ease Mac users' fears about user interface changes and rumored similarities to Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system. The MacBU is unable to speculate on a timetable for a public beta or targets for a release to manufacture, APC Magazine notes that a demo of the alpha build shows that the revised user interface is moving in a "very appealing and Mac-like direction." "Our peek at the alpha build [...] showed hints of a streamlined look with a modern black sheen, at times similar to the elements in recent Apple applications such as iTunes 7 and iLife 06. Rest easy, Mac-fans -- this is not Office for Windows."
The Office 2008 user interface retains the traditional menus and toolbars, as well as the philosophy behind the Office 2007 for Windows ribbon with several changes to expose some of the more obscure features, making them more visible and accessible to users.
"Part of our mission with Office 2008 is to expose all the things that are already there and make the product easier to use" said Microsoft's Mac Business Unit lead marketing manager Sheridan Jones. "We wanted to make it more discoverable, to bubble up the features that people didn't always find. We also have an opportunity to have a simple UI and a more intuitive interface."
"We got a lot of customer feedback (on the UI), we've kept the menus and embedded toolbars, but I can hide rid of embedded toolbars to have a really streamlined interface."
The new Office software inherits the "Escher" graphics engine from its Windows cousin to improve art and charting capabilities, enabling all of the Office 2008 for Mac applications to produce graphics with elegant visuals -- including 3D effects, glass effects, glowing, mirroring, and shadows, according to APC Magazine.