WinInfo Daily UPDATE--Microsoft Reveals New Office 12 UI

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In the News
- Microsoft Reveals New Office 12 UI
- Judge Clears Ex-Microsoft Researcher to Work for Google in Limited Capacity
- PDC 2005 Blog

==== In the News ====
by Paul Thurrott, thurrott@windowsitpro.com

Microsoft Reveals New Office 12 UI
Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates unveiled Microsoft Office 12 publicly for the first time yesterday. The surprisingly innovative office productivity suite will move away from the command-based interface that all Office products have used and will feature a task-based interface that bubbles relevant functionality to the user as needed. Microsoft officials I spoke with at Microsoft Professional Developers Conference (PDC) 2005 in Los Angeles say this new Office UI will make users more productive and help them accomplish complicated tasks.

"This new user interface is designed around the ways people actually think and work," Group Product Manager Dan Leach told me in a post-PDC 2005 keynote briefing. In the Office 12 products, which will ship alongside Windows Vista in late 2006, the familiar menu and toolbars will be replaced with tabs and UI elements called galleries, which bundle related functionality. For example, in Microsoft Office Word 12, tabs such as Write, Insert, Page Layout, References, Mailings, and Review will be arrayed along the top of the window. When you perform certain tasks, such as inserting an image, new tabs will appear as needed. And each tab will expose a range of galleries.

In his keynote address, Gates noted that the change was needed because Office has become so feature-packed. A menu-and-toolbar UI worked fine when Office products such as Word used only 100 commands, as the first version did 20 years ago. But Word 2003 features more than 1500 commands and includes a whopping 35 toolbars as a result. Clearly, the old way of doing things is outdated.

Office 12 will run on both Vista and Windows XP, Microsoft says, and won't use any of the newer Vista-era technologies such as Windows Presentation Foundation (code-named Avalon) or the WinFX programming libraries. A first beta version of Office 12 is due before the end of the year.

Judge Clears Ex-Microsoft Researcher to Work for Google in Limited Capacity
King County, Washington, Superior Court Judge Steven Gonzalez has found that ex-Microsoft researcher Kai-Fu Lee had misled the software giant and exploited confidential Microsoft information when he first began working at Google. However, Gonzalez ruled that Lee can continue working for Google with certain restrictions. Specifically, Lee can help Google create a research lab in China and recruit potential employees. But he can't use confidential Microsoft information in the course of his job or work with natural language processing or speech recognition in his new capacity at Google.

Microsoft said it was pleased with the ruling. "Dr. Lee is going to be the highest-paid \[human resources\] manager ever," Microsoft Vice President and Deputy General Counsel Tom Burt said. "He can't tell \[Google recruits\] what to do, he can't direct them, \[and\] he can't manage them."

For his part, Lee, who had expressed frustration with Microsoft's slow pace in China, says he's happy to begin his new job. "Before today, I have not really been able to work, talk to people, or email anybody \[at Google\]," he said. "The importance of this is that it allows me to do my job." Google will eventually build two research labs in China--one in Beijing and one in Shanghai. The company hasn't yet decided which one to build first.

PDC 2005 Blog
Want to know what's going on at Microsoft Professional Developers Conference (PDC) 2005? Follow along as I recount my first "official" day at the conference--a day of keynotes, announcements, surprises, and my very own copy of Windows Vista build 5219.
http://www.windowsitpro.com/articles/index.cfm?articleid=47693

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