As you may have seen, yesterday evening we released Office 12 Beta 1 to our technical beta testers.  We finished up build 3417.6 last week and declared it to be Beta 1, followed by a few days of media verification (testing the CDs) and getting it ready for download.  As I write, our 10,000 technical beta testers are furiously downloading the product.  After two years of intense design, implementation, and iteration, this is a milestone the whole team is really proud of.  Brian Jones did a great job of summarizing some of the achievements and goals of the release in his blog today.

The product team in Redmond had a party last Friday afternoon to celebrate.  Our hard work was rewarded by a number of vegetable crudite platters, several hundred Swedish meatballs (too bad Raymond wasn't there) and a tray of pablum potato skins.  (What did you expect?  It's only a beta.)  The stereo system was pumping "Ice Ice Baby", and people were lined up around the edges of the room like a junior high dance.  Unfortunately, after waiting 10 minutes in line I finally got to the food and found out I was supposed to pick up a plate before I got in line.  So, I just gave up and went back upstairs to work.  People who showed their ID to get alcoholic beverages got "Beta 1" stamped on their hand, which I thought was a nice touch.

If you are lucky enough to be a beta tester for Beta 1, please respect your beta test agreement and post feedback only through the private beta newsgroups you have access to and not here on my blog.  You'll get me in trouble!  :)

If you're didn't get selected for Beta 1, that's OK.  You can keep reading about the new user interface here; there's a lot I haven't covered yet!

I've been blogging long enough now that many of the questions I receive through e-mail are covered in posts from the past.  With more people reading every week, it's only natural that not everyone will have read everything I've written.

So, in honor of Beta 1, here are the top 30 articles you should read if you want to familiarize yourself with the user interface changes in Office 12.  If you read these 30 articles, you'll have a good start at understanding what we're doing, why we're doing it, and how we're validating it.

Consider this list a "best-of" from my first two months of blogging.

Posts about the Ribbon and how it works:

Posts about Galleries, Formatting, and Results-Oriented Design:

Why did we make a new UI for Office 12?

The philosophies, ideas, and design tenets behind the new UI:

Usability techniques and validation of the new UI: