Office For MAC 2011

What an exciting day for MacBU. Today, we’re unveiling our latest efforts to the world: Office for Mac 2011. For over two years, we’ve been hard at work on this latest incarnation of Office for Mac and I’m so pleased to say that it’s coming along really nicely. With the many new exciting feature additions and improvements, Office for Mac 2011 is shaping up to be the best version of Office for Mac yet. So I realize it’s been a while since I last posted, so let me start by reacquainting myself with our MacMojo readership.
I’m Han-yi Shaw, Senior Lead Program Manager responsible for our suite-wide Office User Experience (UX) and Word for Mac. Starting today, I’m kicking off a series of articles that introduce the many highlights of our upcoming product. While today marks the team’s first look at Office for Mac 2011, the topic I’ll focus on something that has been near and dear to me for the past two years: the new user interface of Office for Mac 2011.
The most notable introduction to our new Office 2011 user interface is strikingly new, but readily familiar to Mac and PC users alike. It’s called the “Office for Mac ribbon”, or as we refer to it internally, “MacRibbon”. The “Mac” part tells you that it was designed specifically for the Mac, with all of the recognizable attributes that Mac users have come to love; the “Ribbon” part signifies the shared lineage with the ribbon seen in Office 2007 and now Office 2010 for Windows. Given that this new user interface element is appropriately referred to as the Office for Mac ribbon, it represents a new user experience that has not yet dawned on any Mac or PC, and is making its first appearance today as a fusion of the best of both worlds. But why introduce a new user interface, one might ask?
While the reason why we embarked on the journey of creating a brand new user interface is multifold, it really all started with the following goal: to continue to deliver the best productivity suite that was intuitive yet powerful, innovative yet familiar, and above all, Mac-like yet compatible. And as we looked ahead toward the next decade, we knew it was time to take the venerable Office for Mac user interface to the next level. The Formatting Palette, which was introduced in Office 2001 for Mac, had over the course of a decade been stretched beyond its originally intended purposes. The Elements Gallery, which was introduced in Office for Mac 2008 had tremendous untapped potential, especially for users who have experienced significantly improved productivity gains after using the ribbon interface from Office 2007 for Windows. However, it was the very same Mac user community who expected a first-class ribbon implementation, who were at the same time crystal clear in their message: deliver a ribbon interface that’s built upon, not at the expensive of, the Mac user interface and native Mac OS X platform technologies. And as we at MacBU are Mac users ourselves, we empathized with this unequivocal request coming from our user community. Hence, the MacRibbon was born. It began from user feedback — and every step of the way — we listened, iterated, and listened some more. And after two years of development — and having worked closely with our customers — we think we’ve landed in a happy place with the Office for Mac ribbon. And with that, here comes the exciting part: What is the Office for Mac ribbon?
The Office for Mac ribbon presents new and commonly used controls in Office for Mac, otherwise located in the Formatting Palette and the Elements Gallery, in an intuitive, results-oriented, and Mac-like design. It’s not a replacement of signature Mac user interface elements such as the OS X menu bar and standard toolbar. Together, the menu bar, standard toolbar, and ribbon complement each other seamlessly. The standard toolbar hosts the most highly used controls — such as New, Open, Print, Save — so if you’ve seen an Standard Toolbar in Office sometime in the past twenty years, you’ll know where and what to expect. The Office for Mac ribbon hosts the most highly used formatting and creation tools that were previously evenly distributed between the Formatting Palette and Elements Gallery in Office 2008. With the new Office for Mac ribbon, you no longer have to travel between these two user elements, but instead just focus on a single, unified, tab-based design. And given that the Office for Mac ribbon is nicely anchored inside the application window, adjacent to the standard toolbar, gone are the days when you had to position and reposition the Formatting Palette to prevent it from covering your document contents or falling off the screen as it grows and shrinks during normal usage. The Office for Mac ribbon solves the common user complaint about “I like the Formatting Palette, but it can really get in the way” — and users who tested the Office for Mac ribbon overwhelmingly favored it. During many rounds of user studies over the past two years, our participants frequently surprised us, saying, “I know this is still in development, but can I take this home now?” Time after time, we felt apologetic over having to put a damp towel over their enthusiasm by telling them they can’t take Office 2011 home just yet — but we’re excited that we are nearing our final release. The beloved Mac OS X menu bar remains nicely tucked under the top of the Mac screen. It’s there if you ever need it, but otherwise remains in the peripheral awaiting your next occasional visit. And for those who love to customize their interface, you’ll be pleased to hear that the Office 2011 for Mac user interface is the most highly customizable version we’ve ever created. You can choose to show or hide the standard toolbar, ribbon, or both, at any time. You’ll also be pleased learn that the combined height of the standard toolbar and ribbon is noticeably less tall than the standard toolbar and Elements Gallery in Office 2008 for Mac. So you actually regain screen real estate when you switch over to Office 2011.
When you launch Office 2011, the standard toolbar and ribbon collectively represent the top 80 percent most commonly used features. And since the Office for Mac ribbon is a tab-based design, instead of showing you all of Office’s depth all at once, you get to choose what you’d like to expose. With the Standard Toolbar, you can perform any one of the most highly used New, Open, Save, Undo operations with a single mouse-click, without having to tunnel into a separate location or unveil another tab. Lastly, for the remaining least used 20 percent of functionality, it doesn’t clutter up the user interface and you can simply access them via the Mac OS X menu bar during that rare occasion when you them.
And as you’d expect, the Office for Mac ribbon will be available across the suite. In getting ready for the exciting unveiling of Office for Mac 2011, I’ve prepared a screenshot of the Office for Mac ribbon.

So today, I’ve introduced you to the basics of the Office for Mac ribbon and I will follow up with additional posts that give you a more in-depth look at the Office for Mac ribbon, starting with Word 2011, which is the other labor of love for me. There is much to talk about so stay tuned for my Office for Mac ribbon Part II post, available exclusively on our MacMojo site!
Han-yi Shaw



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