In Office 12, Word replaces the standard toolbar with a "ribbon" of choices that display options directly related to editing text, while hiding unrelated options.
With Office 12, Microsoft will offers up "galleries," which are essentially templates of changes that a user might want to make. The idea is to allow people to make common changes, say, narrowing a document's margins, with a single click.
In addition to the generic ribbons in Office 12, Microsoft also has a series of contextual menus that come up only when doing a specific task, in this case building a graphic from within Word.
Microsoft plans to change the user interface to better fit the task a person is performing. The new look will apply to Word (shown here), PowerPoint, Excel, Access and parts of Outlook.
In the Office 12 version of PowerPoint, Microsoft is promising that users will see contextual tabs that present specialized features as needed.
The first test version of Office 12 is due in fall 2005, and the finished product in the second half of 2006.
At right is a screen shot of the Excel program in Office 12.
At right is a screen shot of the Access program in Office 12.