I couple of months ago I mentioned that we were working on a third color scheme for Office 2007, as well as continuing to tweak the visuals of the so-called "northwest" corner of the apps (the upper-left corner.)

I was planning on waiting until we finalized the visuals before posting pictures and more information, but some not-quite-finished screenshots leaked out on the Microsoft Design site last week. So, I thought, I might as well get in the action and leak some not-quite-finished screenshots myself.

So, without further ado… the new Office 2007 color scheme is called "Silver." Here's a picture of it running on top of a recent build of Windows Vista:

Silver color scheme on Windows Vista
(Click to enlarge and view full picture)

This color scheme was designed to provide a very neutral canvas on which to do your work. It draws your eye to the document and doesn't include some of the more decorative aspects of the other two color schemes, such as the architectural elements behind the document. And most importantly for a neutral canvas, Silver isn't infused or saturated with color, so that the design of your document stands out.

So, the final list of color schemes is: Blue, Silver, and Black. You can change between any of them from Options in any of the new UI programs included in Office 2007. Hopefully most people will be able to find at least one color scheme which suits their taste.

Comparison of the three color schemes running on Windows XP

In these screenshots you can also see some of the updated design work we've done around the upper-left corner of the application frame. This is an area in which we're still actively working, so these screenshots don't represent a totally finalized visual design. But you can see the direction we're headed… for instance, a lot of you gave feedback that you didn't like the curved upper-left corner in Beta 2, so we reworked it. We changed the visuals of the Quick Access Toolbar to make it look more distinctly like it's a toolbar and a separate entity within the title bar. On Vista, you can see the Quick Access Toolbar is drawn entirely on Aero Glass.

In a few weeks, we'll have finalized the visual designs and then I'll post a more detailed article with finished screenshots.

But, in the meantime, I thought you might like to see a work-in-progress of what we've been up in the visual design department over the last few months.