The Office 12 User Experience

The UI for Office 12 Client has been completely redesigned and the integration between client and server opens up many opportunities.  Fundamentally what have Microsoft tried to achieve?

20% or 80%

  • People criticise Office on the basis that people only use 20% of the functionality.  I contest that although this is true people use different 20% and so Office succeeds in being a standard suite only because it satisfies everyones different 20% needs
  • However Microsoft have analysed through customer usage data what people actually use in Office,  to find the 80% of features that most of the different 20%’s add up to.
  • The new UI provides a task oriented interface to this 80% of capability without the need to use menu’s through a new set of activity tabs that present clustered sets of tool-bar buttons.  It’s difficult to describe,  but the demo’s show they have done an amazing job
  • Using the new UI its true that a huge amount of functionality is now exposed to users in an easy to use and discover way,  and that functionality has been improved and extended to make it easier to use and to reduce the complexity of common tasks
  • This one change alone may largely silence critics who claimed that they only used 20% and actually demonstrate that maybe 80% of the capability was relevant to them if only they had realised.

Client server integration

The integration between the client and server is increasingly seamless,  this will greatly enhance usability and make it much more likely that collaboration, information management and good data integrity will be become a reality.  Here are some of the examples:

  • Data from XML documents can be surfaced in the WSS UI,  making it worthwhile to add that data because it becomes useful
  • A relationship is maintained between documents and their “master copies” in WSS document libraries, and even individual slides incorporated in presentation from WSS slide libraries.  This means that when you work with documents or presentations locally and the master changes you are notified and able to take appropriate actions
  • When you save documents to a WSS document library you see applicable work-flows surfaces in the Office client UI, that can be initiated, for example “get comments”, “approve” etc.
  • If you need to work off-line then you can simply take a document library off-line in Outlook (single click) very slick and better than the similar feature provided today in Groove.

Automation and presentation

  • Many of the most common tasks have been automated, especially in Excel and Powerpoint.  New graphical representations, for example diagram types and new formatting is now very easy to apply from the task centric interface
  • People will spend a lot less time tinkering in these tools now
  • The qualify of the presentation is also considerably improved, again making it more likely that people will just get on with the job as the default is good enough to meet nearly everyones needs

 

 

Steve Richards

I'm retired from work as a business and IT strategist. now I'm travelling, hiking, cycling, swimming, reading, gardening, learning, writing this blog and generally enjoying good times with friends and family

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