I wrote about some of the new features in Outlook 12 and, in passing, I
mentioned that Outlook was the
biggest consumer of the Ribbon.
Not surprisingly, since I didn't explain the remark any further and because it
seems to contradict my
about what apps get the new Office UI, I got a lot of feedback questioning
my remark. "Surely you're mistaken... or crazy?" one reader wrote in.
While it is true that I have been quite sick this week and woke up with a > 100
degree fever again yesterday morning, I assure you that I am not, in fact, any
crazier than usual.
(That's 37.8 C for you non-United Statesians...)
Anyway, while it is true that part of Outlook has the new UI and part of it does
not, the half which does required the design of more Ribbon tabs than the rest
of Office combined.
Start with the fact that in Office 12, the Outlook editing and reading canvas is
based on Word. This means that the feature set of an e-mail message starts
with "everything you can do in Word", subtracts "things that don't make sense in
an e-mail, such as page orientation" and adds "all of the features Outlook
And now, you've successfully designed the Ribbon for one scenario: sending an
However, there are so many different scenarios within Outlook: post a message,
send a meeting request, accept a meeting request, counter-propose a meeting
request, accept a task, resend a message, read a non-delivery receipt, forward
an iCalendar, etc. In fact, there are more than 40 unique "application
experiences" within Outlook, each which requires a set of tabs in the Ribbon
that 1) expresses all of the possible functionality 2) is as consistent as
possible with other similar features within Outlook and 3) is as
consistent as possible with the Word experience.
So, while it might seem like Outlook is just dabbling its toe into the new UI,
in fact Outlook contains the largest and most complex set of scenarios to
utilize the Office 12 UI. As a result, Outlook is probably the place where
we've done the most revisions of the Ribbon experience since Beta 1. Of
course, we've made improvements in every app based on feedback, but the Outlook
tabs have really been overhauled to make them more straightforward to use.
Which is good, because Outlook is the place people do most of their reading,
writing, and document creation.