If past versions of Office were driven mostly by functionality and usability, Office 2007’s catchwords are discoverability and results. For example, studies show that typical Word users use only a fraction of the myriad features contained in Word. Yet, the same studies show that users often employ the wrong feature. For example, rather than use an indent setting, a user might press the spacebar five times (gasp!) or press the Tab key once (again gasp, but not quite as loud).
Microsoft’s challenge, therefore, was to design an interface that made discovering the right features easier, more direct, and more deliberate.
Have they succeeded? Well, you’ll have to be the judge. To some, the new interface succeeds only in being different and in making Office novices out of those who previously were Office experts. Whether it makes things easier for beginners, ultimately easier for casual users, or simply more difficult for veteran users, remains to be seen.
Let’s suppose you want to create a table. Assuming for the moment that you even know that a table is what you want, in Word 2003 and earlier you might choose Table Draw Table or Table Insert Table from the menu. Or, perhaps ...