Office vision still unclear

My comments on Microsoft's plans for the recently delayed 2007 release stirred up a few readers.

As you'd expect given Microsoft Office's near-ubiquitous position in the modern workplace, my comments on the company's plans for the recently delayed 2007 release stirred up a few readers.

One poster took me to task for suggesting that the no-menus-here interface would be a hindrance to existing users, asking: "If it was so good before, why did 80 percent of requests for new functionality in Word 2007 already exist in Word 2003?"

Actually, the answer to that one's quite simple. While Microsoft is happy to proffer figures like that which suggest that there's lots of hidden goodness just waiting to get unlocked, it isn't so keen to disclose just how many people are making the request. As such, we have no way of knowing whether it's only a tiny minority of idiots who can't find a particular feature, or whether it downright sucks and practically no-one can work it out. I suspect the former, following the well-known principle that empty vessels make the most noise.

Speaking of noise, at the original Office 2007 press demonstration, Microsoft suggested that I e-mail my complaints about the new interface to them, saying that they'd get back to me with some more specific suggestions about how power users could adopt to the new interface. So far, I've heard nothing -- but given that the release date for Office 2007 has been further delayed since then, perhaps that's no great surprise.