When I started using Office 2007 a year ago, I found the transition not difficult, but frustrating. In fact, even frustrating is a stronger word.
From a design perspective, it was difficult to fathom why the UI designers would not just tinker with, but significantly alter the menus. Considering that the core audience for Office is, well, office users, who do not embrace change as quickly or as easily as, say, a younger, more dynamic demographic would, such a radical redesign flew in the face of conventional thinking.
And almost everyone I knew, who had made the transition, felt lost in the new Office. Think of the first time you were using Word 2007, and wanted to change the orientation of the page to “Landscape”. Though “Page Layout” was the third item on the ribbon, the force of old habit made us look us look under File > Print. If not for the F1 key, we would have wasted hours find something that was right there in front of our eyes.
However, a few months into it, and I find myself totally comfortable, to the point that previous versions of Office seem rudimentary, even ancient. I guess other users would have acclimatised themselves just as well. But I still think it was big gamble on part of the Office team to have gone ahead with such a redesign. I wonder if Microsoft would have been able to pull it off if not for their entrenched strength. In a more open playing field, users might have “considered” gravitating to other choices.
That said, I am still not convinced about Vista’s UI design as being as revolutionary and user-friendly as Office 2007′s.
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