Microsoft provides a first look at the Ribbonized Office for Mac 2011

Microsoft provides a first look at the Ribbonized Office for Mac 2011

Summary: The new Office for Mac 2011 release will add a Mac-customized version of Microsoft's Ribbon interface; support for the Personal Folders (.PST) e-mail archiving protocol; and the ability to co-author documents with others using SkyDrive and SharePoint, Microsoft execs said on February 11.

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In conjunction with this week's Macworld 2010 conference, Microsoft is sharing more information about its Office for Mac 2011 product, due for release before the end of this year.

Microsoft officials announced in August 2009 that the company was working on a new version of its productivity suite for the Mac -- which has been christened Office 2011 for Mac, officials said on February 11. Last year, Microsoft officials said the new suite would include Outlook in place of the current Entourage mail client, support for Microsoft's information rights management (IRM) content protection, and support for Visual Basic.

On February 11, Microsoft made public more details about the forthcoming release, which is still due out before the end of 2010, officials reconfirmed today. The new release will add a Mac-customized version of Microsoft's Ribbon interface; support for the Personal Folders (.PST) e-mail archiving protocol; and the ability to co-author documents with others using SkyDrive and SharePoint.

Microsoft isn't making pricing, recommended system specs or a test build of the new suite available this week. (I asked whether the new release would support Apple's iPad, and was told "we are looking into the iPad though we having nothing firm to share at this time." Office Web Apps are supported on the iPhone already.)

Office for Mac 2011 is all about maintaining and improving compatibility with the Windows versions of Office, said Amanda Lefebvre, Senior Marketing Manager with Microsoft's Mac Business Unit. To that end, Microsoft is adding support for .PST. And the next Mac Office is getting the Ribbon interface like Office 2007 and Office 2010 include.

The Ribbon on the Mac version of Office isn't identical to the Windows Office one. According to Microsoft, the Mac Office 2011 Ribbon will be "an evolution of the Office 2008 Elements Gallery and uses the classic Mac menu and Standard Toolbar giving you the best of both worlds." For those who prefer keyboard shortcuts, the Mac Office Ribbon and toolbar will be collapsable/hideable.

Microsoft providing to Office for Mac 2011 users the same "co-authoring" tools that Windows Office users have -- specifically the ability to work with others on a single file directly from inside Office via SkyDrive or SharePoint. And because Microsoft's forthcoming Microsoft Office Web Apps (the Webified versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote) are "browser-agnostic," Office for Mac 2011 users will be able to access them using Safari or Firefox on the Mac, said Mike Tedesco, Senior Product Manager with Microsoft's MacBU.

"Three quarters of our Mac users are using PCs on a regular basis," said Tedesco. "That's why we want to provide a consistent UI with the Ribbon," .PST, co-authoring tools and other functionality.

Microsoft is entering into a "very closed beta" with Office for Mac 2011, which it plans to broaden this summer, company officials said. Company officials aren't providing a release-to-manufacturing target date, other than to say the product will be on store shelves in time for the Holiday 2010 season.

Topics: Apple, Collaboration, Hardware, Microsoft, Software

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Where is "best of both worlds" for windows?

    I'd like a non-ribbon interface without having to resort to 3rd part apps...
    croberts
    • I'd like a non-ribbon interface without having to resort to 3rd part apps..

      Amen
      The developer that invented the ribbon should find another job. What were they thinking?
      ICUR12
      • Then go use Office 2003

        Personally, I absolutely love the Ribbon as it makes it FAR easier to find functionality that was previously hidden several levels deep somewhere in an archaic hierarchical menu.

        The ribbon also makes it SIMPLE to reach each and every ribbon item via the keyboard (hit ALT and follow the hot hints): This has boosted my productivity enormously.
        de-void-21165590650301806002836337787023
        • Agreed

          I'm glad they finally added it to OneNote now. Being a student trying to keep a notebook just became 10x easier.
          The one and only, Cylon Centurion
        • After a year of ribbons...

          The software designeer that invented them should be asking "Do you
          want fries with that?"

          Simply can't stand the ribbon interface. Too jumpy and inconsistent on
          trying to always find things. RPITA.
          Bruizer
        • re

          Yeah but at the same time the ribbon makes you have to hunt around for some of the very basic things.
          jimk_z
    • I don't think you're going to get one

      First of all, people would *scream* bloody murder for Microsoft adding "more bloat" to the code base. Whatever guys.

      And second, Microsoft looks to be retiring the menu based UI's across all of its products in favor of a better UI.


      Personally, I like it more though, it adds more appeal, and as more and more touch based computer find their way to the market, it adds function. Its easier to touch the buttons on the Ribbon, then trying to navigate through the smaller touch areas of a menu.
      It's just another step in the endless cycle of technology evolution. It sure won't be the last either, but as more and more kids are growing up around technology and the constant changes it brings, and more and more of the resistance from the older folks who are set in their ways (Baby Boomers, et al.) disappears, it shouldn't be much of a problem anymore.
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • But its not old folk complaining all the time.

        I'm early thirties and my wife is in her late
        20's and we both dislike using the Ribbon. And
        contrary to me having fun here arguing over OS's
        I do give things a shot. Maybe its me but when I
        get down to repetitive work on things like
        making a presentation it turned into a pain.
        Something I needed at the forefront would keep
        moving and I've had to go through additional
        steps to perform that function again. The things
        I needed seemed to be more buried now than
        before which is the opposite of what the ribbon
        is supposed to do.

        I figure maybe its useful for some peoples work
        habits but I really don't think the people
        complaining about it are doing so out of MS
        hate. For some peoples work habits its more of a
        problem. I guess it would be a serious
        development nightmare to keep up both interfaces
        but I'm sure many people would welcome the
        ability to turn it off.
        storm14k
        • customize your quick access toolbar

          My thinking was the same till I customized the quick access toolbar. Maybe you have tried this and it still doesn't work for you, maybe not. Just adding my 2 cents since I had the same frustrations.

          To add often used items to your quick access toolbar, right click just above the ribbon menu, on the same line as HOME, INSERT...
          Then find the items to add to the quick access bar.

          http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/help/HA012341051033.aspx
          Just_Another_IS_Guy
        • Quick Access Toolbar rocks!

          I've not used the ribbon but once or twice since setting up my Quick
          Access Toolbar -- I basically leave it hidden all the time. Not only do I
          have the commands I use most frequently, but also the groups that I use
          most frequently. I also placed it below the menu so that it wouldn't
          interfere with the window title bar up top, and making it easier to access.
          TheRealFloyd
        • At least you give them a shot

          A lot of people on here won't do that out of pure zealotry.

          But there will always be others like you. No two computer users are the same, and as such it is extremely difficult to design a product that everyone will like while at the same time, trying to implement newer features/functions/designs.
          The one and only, Cylon Centurion
          • Most heavy users of Word are like him.

            He is NOT the exception. Ribbons are OK if you really do not use the
            features of Word or simply don't know it. They help a little bit.

            For those that know Word, they are very frustrating.
            Bruizer
          • I must be a rare case then

            NT
            The one and only, Cylon Centurion
          • Yes you are, Nicholas

            We know how easily [i]wowed[/i] you are with eye candy.

            I too find the Quick Access toolbar to be the only thing that makes Office 2007 bearable to use at work.
            Wintel_BSOD
      • Hopefully some day you will be old as well.

        If one was born when the first version of MS Office arrive, I believe
        1987, or ten years later they learned as did millions of others the File
        Edit View menu. All office suites from all vendors, and standalone
        word processor, spreadsheets, and other programs followed the same
        menu structure with slight variations.

        Millions of folks are now required to learn a completely new system.
        Learning something new isn't a bad thing however, dig back in your
        memory. Recall when many cities, municipalities, school systems etc.
        around the world were looking to go to Open Office and their ilk, one
        of the main selling points MS strongly put forth was "a different
        product with its different look and feel would create a learning curve
        costing much money in down time, lose of productivity, training cost,
        etc creating undo harm to them and users". Seems to me that is
        exactly what this ribbon thingy-bob has created.

        With the ribbon we have some difficulty walking folks through steps
        being as we don't know what they see. The File Edit View menu is
        much easier. We couldn't get folks to find the Print options menu so
        we had them do Ctrl P.

        This issue has nothing do do with age or being set in ones ways. It
        has all to do with mnemonics, and muscle memory. For years we all
        learned and became proficient with File Edit View, now we have the
        ribbon. If it was my choice I'd like to have the option to go back to the
        File Edit View or at least see it at the top along with the ribbon.

        aj.redmond commented about using iWork, completely I agree with
        him(her). At present my use of MS Office is for assisting others with
        their projects; for my projects I use iWork. Yes, I am a MS Office super
        user, both supporting it for clients, and creating corporate
        documents.

        YMMV
        BubbaJones_
        • That's exactly my point

          [i]"With the ribbon we have some difficulty walking folks through steps
          being as we don't know what they see. The File Edit View menu is
          much easier. We couldn't get folks to find the Print options menu so
          we had them do Ctrl P.

          This issue has nothing do do with age or being set in ones ways. It
          has all to do with mnemonics, and muscle memory. For years we all
          learned and became proficient with File Edit View, now we have the
          ribbon. If it was my choice I'd like to have the option to go back to the
          File Edit View or at least see it at the top along with the ribbon."[/i]

          Younger folks better understand the technology around them. And they better understand the changes that are made to their favorite gadgets from year to year. They know what a processor and RAM are, they know what a UI is. They're more open to change than their parents are. I see more parents asking their kids to do this and that for them when it comes to texting, printing, etc... Basically anything that has to do with tech.

          With the older folks, you have to sit there and hand walk them through everything, and even they get lost. They have no understanding of computer tech, to them muscle memory is all they have, and when something goes wrong, they don't know what to do. They didn't go up with it from a younger age, they were just thrown into it, with few ever bothering to learn what was really going on. And as a result of that, they're too afraid of venturing outside of what they know.


          My belief is as a result of that, resistance to change will eventually disappear. Of course you going to have people who don't like this or that, but it won't be because it is different, or not what they're used to.
          The one and only, Cylon Centurion
          • If that was truly a case generalization

            Then you shouldn't have had any problem using Linux or Apple.

            But we know that's not the case.. ;)

            [i]Younger folks better understand the technology around them. And they better understand the changes that are made to their favorite gadgets from year to year. They're more open to change than their parents are.[/i]

            LOL... :D
            Wintel_BSOD
          • Define old, it is attitude not age...

            A while back I supported a company that have managers around the
            country in their late 20s and 30s. Some were afraid of e-mail and
            computers. When they were on the road their secretaries would fax
            them documents, they would write on the fax then fax back to their
            secretaries. They didn't want to learn, they fought anything that had to
            do with computers. In the office or on the road we would attempt
            walking them through things; frustrating. The owner of the company
            was in his late 70s or early 80s, he was very computer literate.

            The folks we have issues with are the young much more than your so
            called old. The young have attitudes with short attention spans, the
            older workers have more patience and know their limitations. Our
            older workers are grateful for the time we spend. Often the young
            worker is mentally someplace else, we have to keep bringing them
            back to what we're working on. The older worker has been through
            more changes and used to changes whereas not the younger workers.
            Maybe overly general perhaps, however it is what I have to deal with.

            Back to the Ctrl P. Many, what you call young folks, don't know
            keyboard short cuts so when we have to walk them through using
            them they're confused, they're only icon clickers. When they're on a XP
            box sometimes we need to do command line stuff it causes their eyes
            to glass over. After walking a young person through a few steps using
            keyboard short cuts and Cmd stuff, I hear him say in a exasperated
            voice stated, "how was I supposed to know that it isn't in the ribbon I
            don't see it?"; gosh, his statement threw me aback. I told him "it is
            called experience".

            Remember, we were all younger, and if we are lucky we will become
            old as well; I hope to. Do you want someone to look at you (regardless
            of your present age) thinking "ah the ole trilobite". I know many 70,
            80, year olds that can run computer rings around your so called
            young computer users.

            Some day we will wish someone will "hand walk" us through what we
            don't know, don't understand, don't comprehend.
            BubbaJones_
      • Have they found a "better UI" yet?

        Ribbons are a horrid excuse for a UI and are a serious detriment to
        people that actually know the product. For noobs, the seem to be a
        wash.
        Bruizer
        • noob?

          I'm not a noob. I've been using Office since WFW 3.1 :)
          The one and only, Cylon Centurion