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  • Blog Post: The Story of the Ribbon

    I was reading through commentary from people who attended last week's MIX conference in Las Vegas. Running across Miguel de Icaza's kind words reminded me that I hadn't posted a follow-up about my MIX talk yet. Last week, I presented a session at MIX called "The Story of the Ribbon." I talked a bit...
  • Blog Post: The Spelling Check is Complete

    Yesterday, I mentioned the new contextual spelling feature that is part of Office 2007. Writing the post reminded me of a story from years past... One of the things we've tried to do from time to time is reduce the number of modal alerts that pop up as part of working with Office. Most people don...
  • Blog Post: You Windows 3.1 Lovers!

    Earlier this week , I somewhat humorously referred to people who close windows on the left side as "Windows 3.1 lovers." What did I mean by that? The now-ubiquitous close button in the upper-right hand corner of windows was only added to the operating system in Windows 95. Previously, as you can see...
  • Blog Post: New Rectangles to the Rescue? (Why the UI, Part 4)

    This is the fourth part in my eight-part series of entries in which I outline some of the reasons we decided to pursue a new user interface for Office 2007. Last time I discussed the UI mechanisms added to Office 2000 intended to reduce the perception of bloat: Adaptive Menus and Toolbar Rafting. I...
  • Blog Post: Combating the Perception of Bloat (Why the UI, Part 3)

    This is the third part in my eight-part series of entries in which I outline some of the reasons we decided to pursue a new user interface for Office 2007. Last time we started a walk down memory lane by taking a look at the first five major versions of Word for Windows. I ended by showing Word 97...
  • Blog Post: Ye Olde Museum Of Office Past (Why the UI, Part 2)

    This is the second part in my eight-part series of entries in which I outline some of the reasons we decided to pursue a new user interface for Office 2007. Today, I want to take you on a journey. A journey that starts back into the cold recesses of the mid-1980s , back into the days of EGA and serial...
  • Blog Post: The Why of the New UI (Part 1)

    This is the first in a series of entries in which I outline some of the reasons we decided to pursue a new user interface for Office 2007. Any discussion about the graphical user interface of computers today has to start all the way back at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in the 1970s. An...
  • Blog Post: The Long Road to Contextual Tabs

    Contextual Tabs are among the most important components of the Office 2007 user interface. They provide quick access to the contextual features which work with an object, much like context menus do. When you're working on a table, we add the Table Tools to the set of features presented. When there's...
  • Blog Post: Which menu items get icons?

    One of the mysteries of the menus-and-toolbars based UI of Office 97-2003 is "which menu items get icons?" If you look at the top-level menus of any of the Office programs, you'll see that some items have icons and some don't. As it was told to me by one of the designers who worked on it, originally...
  • Blog Post: The Feature Bob Invented

    It was a cold winter afternoon early in 2004, and we were in the midst of doing some of the first usability tests with a working, clickable prototype of the Ribbon. (Prior to that, most of our prototypes had been paper-based .) This particular prototype was put together in PowerPoint as a fairly...
  • Blog Post: The End of Personalized Menus

    As faithful readers of this blog, you no doubt know that not every program shipping with the Office 12 "wave" of products has the new user interface . This means that, at least for the time being, menus and toolbars are still alive as a part of many important programs, such as Publisher...
  • Blog Post: A Better Box Of Crayons

    Perhaps because I was never the kid who had the super sized 128-pack of crayons, I never developed much of an artistic eye, especially for colors. Having only the 16-pack, with nary even the free crayon sharpener is something I obviously rue to this day. (Made worse by the fact that, only a few years...
  • Blog Post: The Myth of the Orange Dot

    One thing you might have noticed in Office 12 demos and screenshots is that certain commands in the Ribbon have an orange dot as their icon. People have speculated on what the orange dot represents; guesses have ranged from highlighting features you've used recently to indicating "hot"...
  • Blog Post: The 50/50 Rule

    Much is made in the business world about the 80/20 rule. Also known as the Pareto principle, the basic idea is that in many phenomena 80% of consequences stem from 20% of the causes. Wikipedia has a good discussion of the principle , its myriad applications, and its common misuse and abuse. (I should...
  • Blog Post: A Brief History of the Status Bar

    The status bar. A ubiquitous piece of the modern user interface, hardly anyone seems to pay it mind. That attitude often extends to interaction designers as well. The status bar, if you are new to the world of computers, is the (usually) gray strip commonly found at the bottom of application windows...
  • Blog Post: Breaking the Code

    I received a mail this weekend responding to my Friday post on Super Tooltips asking a simple question: "It seems like you introduce every new feature in Office 12 with a code name. Why not use the 'real' name?" The short answer is: "Because we don't have 'real' names yet." Where do...
  • Blog Post: The Best Outlook Feature Ever

    Here's an Outlook party trick suitable for cruise ships, family reunions, and kids birthday parties. Up until now this secret trick has been known only to Outlook insiders--a kind of "secret handshake" passed through the generations of Outlook team members. Every few years ago someone files a bug...
  • Blog Post: Thanksgiving on a Wednesday

    Thursday and Friday are Microsoft holidays, so the next new post will be on Monday. In the meantime, here's a "holiday" treat for you. Thanksgiving in the United States is a holiday that always occurs on Thursday. However, one year Microsoft moved it to Wednesday. How? Read on. Growing...
  • Blog Post: Decoding Office Build Numbers

    Open the About dialog box in any Office program. Near the top, you'll find the build number of the program you're using. If you are using Office 2003, you'll probably see something like 11.5608.5606. If you are using Office 12, you might see something like 12.0.3417.1005. In earlier versions...
  • Blog Post: No Distaste for Paste (Why the UI, Part 7)

    This is the seventh part in my weekly series of entries in which I outline some of the reasons we decided to pursue a new user interface for Office 12. You can read the last installments here: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 . Last Monday I issued a challenge: for readers to pick the most...
  • Blog Post: It Takes a Village

    Designing and engineering the new Office 12 user interface has been the most challenging project I've ever worked on. Over the last two months or so, you've had a chance to start to get to know me and some of the design philosophies I believe in that carried over into the user interface. ...
  • Blog Post: Inside Deep Thought (Why the UI, Part 6)

    This is the sixth part in my weekly series of entries in which I outline some of the reasons we decided to pursue a new user interface for Office 12. You can read the last installments here: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 . Microsoft is tracking your every move! Soon after you install Office...
  • Blog Post: Happy Pretend Halloween

    I attended college for the first time when I was three years old. The College of Wooster Nursery School , that is. One of the best features of nursery school was that they went to great lengths not to leave anyone out of activities. Probably the most fun regular event was the celebration of birthdays...
  • Blog Post: Tipping the Scale (Why the UI, Part 5)

    This is the fifth part in my weekly series of entries in which I outline some of the reasons we decided to pursue a new user interface for Office 12. You can read the last installments here: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 . Over the last month, we've taken a trip through Ye Olde ...
  • Blog Post: Mommy, I Made a Microsoft!

    My earliest memory of Microsoft: I was 4 years old in the fall of 1980 when my dad brought home the first computer either of us had likely ever seen in person: a TRS-80 Color Computer I , brought home straight from Radio Shack. Loaded up with 4K of RAM, my father was ready to enter the computer age...
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