Microsoft Office is one of those programs people just can’t seem to do without these days. The suite is ubiquitous in almost every office and home computer, and plays a vital part in the way people and corporations carry out their daily activities. From the excellent editing options in Word, the simple yet efficient calendaring in Outlook and the hours lost playing around with an image’s rotation in PowerPoint, it’s clear that the designers know what they’re doing and know how best to set it out to maximise your productivity.
It all changed when Office 2007 was released, bringing a new tabbed layout and style to the way we do things. I personally loved the tabs the minute I started playing with them, and the way options were highlighted or offered to you on a contextual basis meant I really could just concentrate on what I was doing and not on having to delve deep into drop-down menus to find what I wanted.
Three years later Office 2010 arrived, bringing even more layout changes and offering a 64-bit edition as well on the same DVD for users who needed the extra grunt. While the tabbed layout was kept, things like the options and print menu changed to allow for easier mouse control, and offered the option of using the suite comfortably with a tablet. The biggest change that I could pick out was the previewing options which changed your highlighted text, picture, or graph as you chose different styles. Since I also use PowerPoint a lot, this was especially useful for power users like myself.
And now to coincide with the release of Windows 8, Microsoft has been hard at work on Office 2012 (aka Office 15), getting things fresh and ready for a generation of users new to the Metro-styled Windows platform. While Office 15 will be styled to the Metro design, there should be a minimum of issues with the new interface on traditional desktops. So much ho-hum has been made about Windows 8 and its ARM support, but my attention has always been on the Office suite because it’s what I use the most.
Some screenshots have been floating around the internet for a while now, but we’ll only get to see anything when Redmond releases the Public Beta, free to download as it always has been. Right now the closed technical beta is in progress, but many of those invited are under NDA. We’ll get to see exactly what changes have been made for better or worse, and I’ll certainly be the first to give it a go and let you readers know how it went. I’m not a huge fan of the Metro interface in Windows 8, and chances are I’ll keep my current Windows 7 install along with Office 2010 until I find something worthwhile to upgrade to. Judging by the current leaked screenshots the Metro styling (while good) doesn’t tickle my fancy, and I’ll most likely stay away until I have a tablet of my own.