New features in Microsoft Office 12 are being revealed at PDC today and some additional details and screenshots have been published on the Microsoft PressPass site.
The main part of the user experience is code-named the “ribbon.” It’s the one place you go to find the commands that are all about authoring –creating the document, the presentation or the spreadsheet you’re working on. There’s no longer a stack of task panes and menus and toolbars to look through. There’s just one place to look for commands.
Another feature is the “Quick Launch Toolbar,” which allows you to customize the UI by adding as many commands as you like to a toolbar. It’s a place where the user can collect the specific set of commands they use frequently. There’s also a feature code-named “Floatie” which is a formatting tool that presents the most common text formatting features on a tool panel that “floats” over the selected text – improving formatting efficiency by eliminating mouse trips to the command area. So, for instance, if you’re in the picture tools and you notice that your heading needs to be bold, the Floatie means you don’t have to switch all the way to another tab just to make that change.
Some screenshots from the main applications (click to enlarge):