Publishing Layout View
David Flynn at APC reports the latest news on Mac Office 2008, and it is big news.
"We're in private betas right now" confirmed Sheridan Jones, Lead Marketing Manager for Microsoft's Mac Business Unit (MacBU), during an exclusive interview with APC magazine.
Mac Office 2008 will be the last major application for the Mac to be released as a Universal Binary. With Adobe CS being released next month, Steve Jobs will be able to declare yet another transition as being "over" sometime in the second half of the year. Mac users, especially those on MacBooks with 512MB of RAM—minus what the crappy integrated graphics steals—can look forward to much improved performance without Rosetta. While an RTM date has not been set, it will be closer to July than December, at least that is what I took away from my interview with Geoff Price, MacBU Product Manager, at Macworld Expo this year.
What else can you expect from Mac Office 2008? As has been previously reported:
Word Publishing Layout View: smooth and functional desktop publishing in WordDocument Parts: easily access and use footers, headers, TOCs, as "parts" of a documentExcel Ledger Sheets: smart templates for the formula challenged Office Art 2.0: clip-art and effects like you expect from KeynoteMyDay: a widget-like application for Entourage that tracks your day, but not your e-mail
Besides that, Mac Office 2008 will see the UI evolve.
"Part of our mission with Office 2008 is to expose all the things that are already there and make the product easier to use" says 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."
I would—and did—describe the UI changes a little differently.
While the biggest news is Mac Office being UB, get ready for the MacBU's answer to the "Ribbon" in Office 2007: the Elements Gallery, also known as tabs. A set of tabs under the toolbar expand when selected, temporarily devouring screen space and giving access to options like templates in Word's Publishing Layout View, also new this year.
The problem is that while the tabs do "expose" features that might have been missed, nothing was done to reduce the clutter and duplication that results from another UI element. The Mac Office UI now has menus, toolbars, tabs, and a palette, all competing for attention and screen space. What Mac Office desperately needs in a UI is deprecation of some means by which features are accessed in favor of others. This is what Apple does so well, but Microsoft is not Apple, not even at the MacBu.