I've been waiting for Walt Mossberg to weigh in on the about-to-be released 2007 Microsoft Office system (small "s") and he's come out with a review that is classic Mossberg – fair, balanced, and thoughtful. Unlike a lot of the subscriber-only content in the Journal, Walt's columns are available to all and if you're looking for the straight scoop on the new Office from a venerated technology writer, you'll want to read his review which will online tomorrow.
Here's the choice quote:
After months of working with the Ribbon and other new features of Office, I believe they are an improvement. They replace years of confusing accretions with a logical layout of commands and functions. They add easy and elegant new options for making documents look good. And they make it much simpler to find many of the 1,500 commands that Office offers, but had buried in the past.
So, Microsoft deserves credit for being bold and creative in designing Office 2007. It has taken a good product and made it better and fresher.
But there is a big downside to this gutsy redesign: It requires a steep learning curve that many people might rather avoid. In my own tests, I was cursing the program for weeks because I couldn't find familiar functions and commands, even though Microsoft provides lots of help and guidance.
This is essentially what most considered reviews I've come across have concluded. Office 2007 is a bold roll of the dice and a big win for most people who are mostly concerned with turning out good-looking documents. Power users will be less enchanted with the new UI.