Microsoft Tweaks Office 2007 UI

After receiving complaints from testers, Microsoft has decided to make changes to the user interface of Office 2007 in the next refresh of the beta of the productivity suite. The change would come to the "ribbon," Office 2007's replacement for standard drop-down menus.

Microsoft says the new menu system would make the various features easier to locate. In an interview last September, the company told BetaNews that a majority of users were requesting features that were already included in Office. The most current release includes some 1,500 commands.

The sheer number of commands meant that the drop-down menu system was no longer viable, which led the company to create the Office 2007 ribbon. However, testers complained that it took up so much space. To correct this, Microsoft will now make the detailed portion of the ribbon auto-hide when not in use.

Also being added in the next Office 2007 update is the so called "super tooltip" to describe each group of commands in the ribbon. In current releases, only the individual commands use the larger tooltips. It is likely being added here due to the auto-hide feature.

Additionally, the company has decided to rework the Start-like menu found in the upper-left hand corner, now calling it the "Office" menu. Microsoft also said work continues on automatic migration programs that would translate documents from the old Office format to the new XML-based format being used in Office 2007.

The changes were announced during a presentation held at TechEd 2006 Australia in Sydney.

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