Office 2007 for Windows is due in late January 2007 and the Mac versions should be released 6-8 months after it. Should Mac users expect the same kind of drastic interface change that Windows users will receive? It sounds like there will be some UI changes but they may hold back on using the Ribbon:
We will be doing a UI refresh but it won’t be exactly like you see in Office 2007. It just wouldn’t make sense. Apple has got their own very specific set of user interface guidelines and we try to first and foremost to follow those guidelines. If we can innovate on top of that and do some interesting things to make sure that the interface is really discoverable for the Mac user, then we’ll look at doing that. We can get some ideas (from the ribbon) but it still has to fit within Apple’s UI guideline, that’s what a Mac user wants to see.
We had what we thought was going to be this perfect UI solution, and the first time we put it in the labs, no-one understood it! It was so different they were completely confused! We just finished up another round of usability testing on the new UI yesterday, and the program manager said the difference is like night and day.
I thought it was funny how they reference testing out a new user interface but no one understood it. I know plenty of people who are going to feel the same way when they sit down to use Office 2007 for Windows. I don’t think these releases are going to be for the impatient. :D
News Source: APC Magazine