Microsoft changes Office 2007 user interface

Microsoft is changing the user interface in its forthcoming Office 2007 productivity suite.

Microsoft is changing the user interface in its forthcoming Office 2007 productivity suite.

A new feature called the “ribbon” will replace menus and tool bars in the top of a window.

The ribbon is designed to change depending on the task that a user is performing, with the technology aiming to improve the presentation of an application’s features.

Previously, features in Office applications could be deeply buried in menus, meaning many users had no inclination to use them.

But beta testers of Office 2007 have complained that the ribbon in its current format takes up too much screen space.

Microsoft has now promised that in the next test version of the product – a “technical refresh” – users will be able to permanently minimise the ribbon.

In addition, the application will display a mini toolbar with tabs that allows users to perform basic tasks.

Users will still be able to expand the ribbon if required, but a second new feature will also allow them to access the full menu as a temporary pop-up by right clicking on a tab.

Office 2007 will have a commercial launch in early 2007. It was initially expected before the year end, but was delayed because of technical problems in its development.

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