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Microsoft

Office 2003 Beta 2 Screen Shots 693

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the future-of-desktop-applications? dept.
frooyo writes "ActiveWin is displaying screenshots of Office 2003 Beta 2 including pictures of Outlook, Excel, Word etc. As seen by the screenshot - the task based interface is much more prominent. Also - Outlook's three-vertical-pane interface is now the default." Nice to get a head start on what we'll be cloning next year ;)
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Office 2003 Beta 2 Screen Shots

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  • First Look! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @10:58AM (#5378552)
    at Open Office 2013!
  • but (Score:5, Interesting)

    by REBloomfield (550182) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @10:59AM (#5378562)
    It's just a shame that they're remooving support for the legacy operating systems. New collaboration features will be a great benefit, as will the native XML support, so it seems like they're shooting themselves in the foot by removing older O/Ss from the requirements

    Although, as an active directory admin with a few Office 97 clients left in an office XP environment, Office 97 shoots right through my GPO lockdowns.... god knows why, it just bypasses all the security... so if this helps bring a unified base, then I'm all for it....

    • Re: but (Score:5, Funny)

      by Black Parrot (19622) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @11:05AM (#5378609)


      > It's just a shame that they're remooving support for the legacy operating systems. ...it seems like they're shooting themselves in the foot by removing older O/Ss from the requirements

      I'm sure they'll be happy to make you a deal on a new operating system.

    • Re:but (Score:5, Funny)

      by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @11:40AM (#5378913) Homepage
      Perhaps this will be the first really good reason to port Wine to Windows.
    • Re:but (Score:4, Insightful)

      by wobblie (191824) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @11:51AM (#5378997)
      ... so if this helps bring a unified base, then I'm all for it....

      lol. Ever wonder why you find yourself saying this to yourself every year?

    • by Graspee_Leemoor (302316) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @12:39PM (#5379437) Homepage Journal
      It's very sad, but now whenever I see a post that's quite long, on-topic, raising valid questions or points etc. I automatically think "Karma whore!".

      Sad, isn't it?

      graspee

    • Re:but (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sentry21 (8183) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @01:29PM (#5379852) Journal
      I'm sort of ashamed to say this, but I'm glad Microsoft is starting to tell users (in a roundabout way) 'sorry, you can't play with the big boys, because your OS SUCKS' (in relative terms).

      Administering a Windows 98 machine on a 2K network is horrible. The methods for implementing everything are mixed up, you can't specify a home directory, the netlogon scripts don't even run (they run, but do nothing), and so on.

      Microsoft's problem has always been keeping backwards compatibility until it shot them in the foot. DOS compatibility screwed up Windows 95, Windows 3.1 compatibility screwed up Windows 95, but of course they had to have it. The extra code, the extra junk, the more support, the ifs, the whiches, the switch/cases to make it all work on OSes that just aren't reasonably modern, it's a joke. If you can run Office 2k3, you can run Windows 2k. Upgrade. Seriously.

      Kudos to Microsoft for leaving the stragglers behind so they can make a better product (god knows they need it often enough).

      --Dan
      • Re:but (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        > Administering a Windows 98 machine on a 2K network is horrible. The methods for implementing everything are mixed up, you can't specify a home directory, the netlogon scripts don't even run (they run, but do nothing), and so on.

        Excuse me, but did you think that this was 'accidental'.

        > Microsoft's problem has always been keeping backwards compatibility until it shot them in the foot.
        MS's _actual_ problem is that the older OS's, '98, 'NT, and 2000 and Office '97, '2000 have been 'good enough' for most users. These users stopped throwing money at MS, which is a real problem.

        The solution, of course, is for MS to make software that fails to work with older versions and force users to 'keep up' and provide MS with adequate revenue.
        The next step along will be DRM documents. When someone sends a Word Document or EMail and you can't read it because of DRM the 'solution' is to buy the latest Windows, Office and get a passport account and MSN subscription and _then_ you will be able to activate the enclosed virus.

        > so they can make a better product

        It isn't about making new products better, it is about making old products worse.
  • reply (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @11:00AM (#5378566)
    "Also - Outlook's three-vertical-pane interface is now the default."

    Well that is all good and swell but am I still going to get a virus everytime I use it?
    • Re:reply (Score:5, Insightful)

      by anotherone (132088) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @11:09AM (#5378652)
      Well now that's an interesting thing to say. I've been using Outlook primarily for several years and I can't say that I've ever had a virus... let alone a virus caused by Outlook. I've received plenty, the trick is to just not open attachments from people I don't know.
      • Re:reply (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Tony-A (29931) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @11:30AM (#5378835)
        The trick is to just not open unexpected attachments especially from people you know.
      • Re:reply (Score:4, Informative)

        by penguin_dance (536599) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @11:39AM (#5378895)
        Well now that's an interesting thing to say. I've been using Outlook primarily for several years and I can't say that I've ever had a virus... let alone a virus caused by Outlook. I've received plenty, the trick is to just not open attachments from people I don't know.

        Heh, heh...have you asked your friends lately about that? I'm getting this mental image of them saying, "Damn, Tom keeps sending me that 'I Love You' message."

        Because opening attachments from friends is JUST as risky as opening ones from strangers. And an email that uses HTML only and opens in a preview pane is at risk of the next Nimba that comes along.

      • Re:reply (Score:3, Insightful)

        by 1010011010 (53039)
        The problem on Windows is that the name of a file indicates that it's executable. As opposed to any kind of "execute" permission applied to the file.

        I'd like to see MSFT fix *that.*

        You can download virus.exe all day on Linux, and it won't run until it's chmod +x. Windows already thinks it's executable, by virtue of the ".exe" (and .vbs, .bat, .pif, etc.).
        • Re:reply (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Zigg (64962)

          Which is all well and good until you have scripts embedded in document formats, at which point you're going to get exposed anyway. But when this was brought up to people "in the know" on Advogato, they all hid behind the chmod +x defense. Pretty pathetic.

          • Re:reply (Score:3, Informative)

            by 1010011010 (53039)
            Automatic execution of embedded scripts is also a problem. In some cases, the ability to embed scripts is a problem.

            However, ".exe" is a system-wide problem that doesn't go away just because there are or are not scripts embedded in document files.

        • Re:reply (Score:4, Interesting)

          by ergo98 (9391) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @12:10PM (#5379152) Homepage Journal
          I'd like to see MSFT fix *that.*

          You mean like this [microsoft.com] (it prevents Outlook users from being able to access executable content)? To circumvent this the executables must be sent as compressed files which have to be then uncompressed and then execute: It's no different than chmod +x. The attributes on the file are hardly that different from the extension of the file, and indeed many compression utilities store the attributes of the file.

          In any case it's interesting that what you're talking about is something that Microsoft is making great strides in "fixing", to the consternation of many Slashdotters. A heavily debated feature of Paladium is the fact that executable files have to be signed by a trusted authority (configurable by domain. For instance your corporate IT department) to be executable. There have been third party utilities that only allow configured executables to run as well via an executable database.
          • Re:reply (Score:3, Insightful)

            by 1010011010 (53039)
            You mean like this [microsoft.com] (it prevents Outlook users from being able to access executable content)?

            That's specific to outlook. It doesn't fix the brokenness in the operating system.

            In any case it's interesting that what you're talking about is something that Microsoft is making great strides in "fixing", to the consternation of many Slashdotters. A heavily debated feature of Paladium is the fact that executable files have to be signed by a trusted authority (configurable by domain. For instance your corporate IT department) to be executable. There have been third party utilities that only allow configured executables to run as well via an executable database.

            Palladium isn't about fixing this problem. "stpooing viruses" is, at best, a side effect. Palladium is about control -- control by Microsoft. It conveniently kills open development for Windows, including free software and shareware.
      • Re:reply (Score:3, Informative)

        by patter (128866)
        I've received plenty, the trick is to just not open attachments from people I don't know.

        No it's not, outlook used to execute JavaScript when you PREVIEWED documents.

        I got my first virus by attempting to delete message that looked like a virus, and when i previewed it, the JavaScript ran the executable. No stupidty on my part, I couldn't stop it. Nor could you have.

        You've just been lucky, not clever, that basic advice anyone knows, that's why recent viruses don't give a damn if you bother opening them. Previewing is sufficient.
  • cloning (Score:5, Insightful)

    by oooooops (32349) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @11:01AM (#5378573)
    I've already seen all the comments about clone wars blah blah blah

    on a more serious note is cloning the way to win? doubtful - how about innovating making it better rather than just cloning
    • Re:cloning (Score:5, Funny)

      by Space Coyote (413320) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @11:05AM (#5378617) Homepage
      on a more serious note is cloning the way to win? doubtful - how about innovating making it better rather than just cloning

      The cloning thing worked for MS...
    • Re:cloning (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tjansen (2845) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @11:06AM (#5378628) Homepage
      on a more serious note is cloning the way to win?

      If it is cloning improvements: yes, certainly. It's not like MS would not clone features of the X11 desktop environment. For example the Longhorn previews showed CDE/KDE/Gnome-features like virtual desktops and panel applets.

      • Virtual desktops go back a really long time, at least until 1992 with vtwm [visi.com] and olvwm [akula.com]

        Ah, the good old days when everyone used there own window manager, everybody's unix desktop looked totally different and you actually had to know something to have a desktop that was cool.

    • Re:cloning (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 13Echo (209846) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @11:14AM (#5378697) Homepage Journal
      First we have those that can't do without MS Office because it is "Oh so perfect" and "The standard"... Then we have those that complain about free subsitutes that have almost all (and then some) of the functionality at a price of $0.00., just because they aren't "innovative enough". If the price can't justify it, then what can? People aren't going to be able to pull new features and UI improvements out of their asses, guys. Come on. This is the same, sorry argument that we keep hearing by people who harp about how software designers "copy" the Windows and Mac features for Gnome and KDE.

      I just don't get it. Sometimes, in order to make something usable for most people, there is no such thing as "innovating" to the extent of making it vastly different. Some people just want to have a similar, comfortable interface to work on their spreadsheets and reports.
      • People WANT to pay (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        And the more they pay, the more vigorously they will defend their purchase. Hell, they will go out of their way to describe in great detail how it affects their life? Ever hear someone gush about their car? Yeah, probably never got it for free either!

        It's strange, but if people don't sacrifice for something, money, time, energy, they just don't feel like there is any value in it. Some people love free stuff, but the majority want to feel some sort of ownership.

        i.e. In Best Buy, ATTBroadband offers an empty box for sale. $10 is the listed price, and all it contains is information on how to sign up for the service and receive your $10 back. But, they are selling nonetheless. Best Buy offered them for free previously, but there was no take up. Place a sticker on it, and the question is... Ooooh! Broadband for $10? I'm sold!

        Go figure!
  • Another upgrade (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mike_c999 (513531) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @11:01AM (#5378580)
    Can someone kindly explain why I should pay more money to upgrade from 2000 to 2003 when 2000 does more that i need and i can get Open office which also does more than i need for free.
    • Re:Another upgrade (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bill_mcgonigle (4333) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @11:22AM (#5378762) Homepage Journal
      Because there aren't going to be security updates for the version you have and the US Corporate world has adopted Office as a standard file format, made possible by the abuse of a monopoly position.

      So, if you don't upgrade you're going to get a .DOC file one day that will wreck your computer.

      Do you see a problem with this scenario or were you just asking rhetorically?
    • Re:Another upgrade (Score:5, Interesting)

      by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @11:36AM (#5378875) Homepage Journal

      Simple: Microsoft shareholders.

      Microsoft doesn't make money for them if people use "old" versions of their software. They have to make a newer version, with incompatible formats, to ensure as many people upgrade as possible. It's software extortion.
    • Re:Another upgrade (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Tyreth (523822) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @12:35PM (#5379406)
      Of course, it's really quite simple.

      You'll need it to thread DRM support in your documents and view other similar such documents :) And once you do this and begin to save your documents in such a way, you'll force others to need an upgrade.

      Heaven forbid that I suggest someone install the free OpenOffice software so they can read my documents, yet it is oh so natural for people to ask me to use Microsoft Office on my home desktop. Hypocrites, slaves to the borg. ...and yes, I've noticed a recent number of posts along the lines of "I'm cool because I don't mock Microsoft like all the other slashdotters" that gather karma - but I still don't trust these guys [Microsoft] and am annoyed at a lot of the rubbish we have to put up with because of a direct result of their practices)
  • imitation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eric6 (126341) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @11:01AM (#5378581) Journal
    For how much crap MS gets, they sure are imitated. Is this

    • flattery?
    • lack of creativity in interface design?
    • following the lead of a big company with lots of usability research?
    • a big bandwagon?
    • camoflage, to keep from scaring off [new] users of non-MS products?


    Personally, i like the office interface, but perhaps that's just because i'm so familiar with it.

    • Re:imitation (Score:5, Insightful)

      by redfenix (456698) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @11:06AM (#5378626)
      Personally, i like the office interface, but perhaps that's just because i'm so familiar with it.

      I think you just answered your own question.
    • by Kjella (173770) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @11:31AM (#5378839) Homepage
      Personally, i like the office interface, but perhaps that's just because i'm so familiar with it.

      Unless there's something seriously *wrong* with the Office interface, you grow to like it. Kinda like how I "like" Windows, because there I know where everything is. Just moving a menu option to somewhere else will make me spend more time until I get used to it, no matter how "smart" it is. And unlike us, some corporate users just won't find the new location without retraining (no, I'm not kidding). Personally, I'll stick with webmail/eudora/pine though, as long as I'm in windows. Evolution looked pretty good on my linux machine, but I'm not quite ready to make that my desktop yet.

      Kjella
  • ...we all rush to slashdot the one site we know with screenshots of the new Office-suite...

    Or it might just be that "there is nothing to see there, now move along". Nothing useful ever came to Office since Office2k anyway :)

  • by Jonboy X (319895) <jonathan.oexner@alum . w p i.edu> on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @11:02AM (#5378583) Journal
    ...when it starts popping up online casino ads at you.
  • The difference? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Fulkkari (603331)

    Could anyone tell me the difference what Office look like? Ofcourse it's nice if the interface is good etc, but I can do everything I need with my Office 2000. I could even managage with Office 95 for sure. I see no reason why to buy a new Office. What we really need is stability.

  • Cloning... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by flewp (458359) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @11:03AM (#5378595)
    Nice to get a head start on what we'll be cloning next year ;)

    What's sad is it is all too true. Instead of innovating, a lot of OSS projects that are supposed to be like MS apps usually just mimick, rather than truly innovate.
    • Re:Cloning... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AssFace (118098)
      What's sad is it is all too true. Instead of innovating, a lot of OSS projects that are supposed to be like MS apps usually just mimick, rather than truly innovate.


      Perhaps because most of the time "truly innovating" is a waste of time.

      People sure do love to hate MS because they are huge and because of that push people around.

      But when it comes to UI design - both they and Apple have the money to do a lot of research into actual usability.

      Something that becomes obvious when you use "truly innovative" software - when someone tries to do something new just because it seems right to them.

      More often then not, it looks cool, but proves useless for day to day use. (a few of MS's "features" are much like this - fading menus and such, but some people love them. Apple too has much fluff, or dare I say cruft? but for the most part, they have a very strongly researched base of design methods, hence why they are mimicked)

      Obviously there are exceptions - but for the most part, MS is oft imitated because they have already invested literally millions of dollars and tons of time in research into making products that people can sit down and use.

      (I'm sure someone will chime in and say that vi is far more usable for themselves and that an luser that can't see that is an idiot.
      But the obvious point should be that when designing for the massees - there are certain techniques that will be seen over and over - because they work.

      All that could be summed up in "why reinvent the wheel?"
    • by Masem (1171) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @11:41AM (#5378917)
      ...is that Microsoft and Apple spend millions on user interface design, a complete separate process from the coding of the program engine, while Linux/OSS developers will generally worry about the UI last, and in that that UI will be designed by the developers themselves with only the response of various alpha/beta/stable testing to improve it. While both MS and Apple's UI R&D have put out duds, such as Clippy, MS Bob, QT4's control set, and The Dock (for some at least), they have both had a large number of very useful additions to good UI design elements (Apply's consistant Human Interface Guidelines, IE's drop-down toolbar buttons, etc). Even Macromedia and Adobe are big on UI design, and have both had patents filed for some of their design elements. Will anyone on Linux ever devote that much ? Not really, I think, as the average Linux user is more worried about functionality than UI most of the time (delegating the UI handling to their window manager of choice (KDE/Gnome/WM/E!/etc)).

      True, OSS doesn't have the money to put into UI research, and while RedHat and the other commercial distros have tried to help out to some extent, it's still a game of catchup with Microsoft most of the time, which is why we seem to be always playing catch up with MS and Apple. Should this be an area to advance Linux in? Maybe; I do think that with the right minds, new, non-WIMP GUIs could be developed that could be more intuitive for certain functions.

      But Linux is trying to gain acceptance by all computer users, and to migrate people from Win or Mac to Linux requires familar surroundings, otherwise, your Linux support person will be running non-stop trying to answer every question under the sun from those that 'just don't get it'. So the 3-paned mail client, the Word- and Excel-lookalikes, and even media players that mimic their Mac or Win equivalent are better poised to help Linux gain market share than some abstract UI that may look good and is more efficient, but otherwise quite different from any standard UI elements.

      The other problem is that developers generally make poor UI developers, particularly if the same developer works on the code and the UI. That developer will know exactly how a program is to work and thus may lay out UI elements that make sense to him, but not to the average lay person. Even if a different developer was doing the UI, there's a different mentality that computer programmers have over average computer users that would typically end with the layout being programming reasonably but low on usability. It may behoove OSS developers to get people with graphic art or usability skills on board some projects to help plan out better UI interfaces.

      Basically, we need to copy, if we want Linux and OSS to be accepted, but there should be a challenge to more creative developers to build new, unique UIs.

  • by LT4Ryan (178006)
    From Klez and other email based worms that defaulting to the preview pane in Outlook is potentially dangerous? Seems like a pretty simple thing to do, it would save a lot of IT support's time, and maybe even put a tick in the smart bin for Microsoft.

    But of course, that would make too much sense, right? :)

    • Bah, I mean.. wait.. reading a resource of non-guaranteed length is when you start checking for buffer overflows, isn't that right? The preview pane is just one exploit. Bah.
  • by ACNiel (604673) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @11:05AM (#5378606)
    His ideas don't jive with the slashdot crowd. Sort of funny, in a way, how the people he attracted have taken his creation in an entirely different direction. Not totally different, but definitely more zealous than the creator.

    That comment about what will be cloned next year, if in a comment, would be labeled as flamebait or a troll. I find it refreshing that at least the editors realize certain realities.

    One of the main ones is that, yes the linux desktop borrows heavily from MS, and not the other way around, which a lot of people like to proclaim.
    • by Corvaith (538529) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @11:23AM (#5378777) Homepage
      Part of innovation is taking what works from past technology and then improving it. And both sides do this--and ought to. If one person came up with a very nice way of doing interfaces, it's really dumb to reinvent the wheel when you could, in fact, be refining the wheel and making it work *better*.

      Obviously, nothing should be 'taken' to the point of intellectual property violation, but I think if *more* of this so-called 'theft' happened in software development, it'd result in much better software in general. Take what the other people did, fix the problems in it, make it better. Then maybe they'll take what you did, fix it even more, make it better.

      And in the end you've got products on all sides that're more useable, more stable, and so on and so forth. I don't know how anyone can say there's something wrong with that. Building a better mousetrap doesn't necessarily mean you have to build it completely unlike every mousetrap ever made in the past.
  • screenshots HERE! (Score:5, Informative)

    by dogas (312359) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @11:05AM (#5378608) Homepage
    I'm not sure if they are the same as the slashdotted server, but here we go.

    HERE! [216.239.39.120]

    god I'm such a karma whore.
  • Great... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by maxbang (598632) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @11:06AM (#5378622) Journal

    Another $600 word processor from Microsoft. Even when I'm at a job where they use Office, nobody ever uses anything but Word to type some useless bullet points, or Excel to make a pointless chart. Tasks? Never used. I had a PHB who tried to assign me tasks once. He couldn't hotsync for a week after that.

  • 27 posts (Score:3, Funny)

    by twinstead (80396) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @11:08AM (#5378638)
    And already slashdotted. Guess they don't have enough bandwidth for the popups...
  • mmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by odyrithm (461343) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @11:08AM (#5378643)
    Nice to get a head start on what we'll be cloning next year ;)

    that points out a very specific problem with the open/free source movements... plenty of hardcore coders but a serious lack of good ui designers.

    • Re:mmmm (Score:5, Interesting)

      by slide-rule (153968) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @11:39AM (#5378900)
      ... plenty of hardcore coders but a serious lack of good ui designers.

      I can't debate how accurate that point is, but I have noticed, having recently read through the gnome interface guidelines, that most of the "not like this" examples are the myriads of various gnome apps. It'd probably go a long way if the developers that *do* write UI code (regardless of how "good" they are at "designing" said UI) actually follow UI guidelines.

      Also, I wonder how well respected someone who mainly does "UI" design/layout things would be respected by the core development team of some project that actually has to code up the critical working guts.
      • Re:mmmm (Score:5, Interesting)

        by thatguywhoiam (524290) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @01:34PM (#5379900)
        I can't debate how accurate that point is, but I have noticed, having recently read through the gnome interface guidelines, that most of the "not like this" examples are the myriads of various gnome apps. It'd probably go a long way if the developers that *do* write UI code (regardless of how "good" they are at "designing" said UI) actually follow UI guidelines.

        I'll go you one further.

        I'm a UI designer. I have designed a new OS UI. It's quite radical, and new. I've solicited opinions on it from slashdot (here [slashdot.org])as well as from a few friends.

        Basically, I'm sitting on the thing right now, for two reasons: 1.) the core group of people its designed for - techies, early-adopters - are incredibly resistant to changes of this type and 2.) its nearly impossible to solicit useful feedback from said group, for the reasons you outlined in your post.

        It can be summarized in one of the responses to the above-linked post; I asked if anyone was willing to undergo (possible) major learning pains to learn a more productive system. I got the only one-word response I've ever seen on /., "No."

        Everyone, absolutely everyone has an almost unshakable opinion of what they like, visually, and behaviourally. Witness the near-revolt of Classic Mac OS users trying OS X, versus the newbies and Unix/Win coverts who think it's the cat's ass (er, that means 'great'). You cannot underestimate this. In 10 years of graphic design, it still boggles me. Graphic design and particularly UI design in general get 'no respect', because its simply something that people don't respect educated opinions on. Put another way, if your code works, only another programmer is going to criticise you for sloppy coding. A user doesn't care as long as it works. But if I show a UI design to a room with 15 people, you will have 15 angrily opinionated asshats barking off about how this and that should work, with no thought whatsoever to how one arrives at those conclusions.

        And the kicker: you must listen to every asshat in that room, because in a way they are all right.

        Anyways. My point is this: I'm the guy you're talking about, and I find it really hard to 'break in' to this group. I don't even know where to start, actually. Hell, I get dissed just because I built the UI demo in Flash.

    • by jesterzog (189797) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @04:36PM (#5381447) Homepage Journal

      that points out a very specific problem with the open/free source movements... plenty of hardcore coders but a serious lack of good ui designers.

      Open source could do just as well as Microsoft by employing graphic artists -- expert UI designeers need not apply. Apple seems to at least be trying, but sometimes I wonder if Microsoft's even employing user interface experts at all. If they do have them then they're not taking any serious notice of them. It seems more like they're aiming to make the interface look pretty and attractive, but no more useful than before.

      A lot of what's being shown off in the screenshots are feature enhancements, but the basic problems of the UI with Windows and Office haven't changed at all. It's as if Microsoft is just throwing in any idea the programmers or feature-developers come up with, without properly testing it or verifying that it's actually useful and not going to create more problems for the user than it solves. For example:

      • The screenshots are still full of modal dialogs.
      • The interface is still full of toolbars with lots of tiny buttons that violate Fitts Law and Hicks Law, making it more complicated for people to choose a target and click on it.
      • The UI still ignores the edges and corners of the screen, which has been well demonstrated to be one of the easiest places for a user to accurately move the mouse to. (I haven't properly used XP but it looks like that from the screenshots. Hopefully someone can confirm this.) Instead there's normally a pixel border or something similar there, causing the user to just miss clicking something that they were probably aiming for, and having to backtrack and fight with the mouse.
      • Much of the UI is still customisable-by-accident, allowing elements to be dragged around and placed in unexpected places accidently. This allows for novice users to reconfigure their UI without realising it, and then become lost and confused about what's going on. This is especially true if they close the program down and open up the next day to something different, and I've seen it happen over and over again.
      • There are still scrollbars everywhere, both on main windows in list/selection boxes, text edit boxes, and so on. This is despite that it's been well known for at least a decade now that scrollbars are bad for UI navigation.
      • Also after at least eight years and probably longer, Microsoft apparently hasn't fixed the font selection dialog box which is full of check-boxes where, by their own UI guidelines, they should be using radio buttons.

      Assuming that these screenshots are genuine, then Microsoft might have made minor presentation tweaks here and there, but it still hasn't fixed any of the real UI problems. Every one of these issues has been documented for years by experts who've spent a lot of effort researching them. Most of the issues have suggested solutions, but Microsoft's done absolutely nothing about it that's reached the consumer.

      If open source developers want to mimic windows to attract users that way then I guess they can. But this doesn't mean it's a good interface. It's the opposite. Personally I'm hoping that the various independent-from-Microsoft open source UI projects come through and win the race with some good UI's, but I don't know what the chance of that is.

  • by penguin_dance (536599) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @11:09AM (#5378649)
    Nice to get a head start on what we'll be cloning next year ;)

    The only thing that needs cloning out of Office is simply the compatibility aspect of it's documents.

    No need to clone the rest of the package: the bloat, the security holes, etc. ;-)

  • Cloning...yuck (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 0x0d0a (568518) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @11:11AM (#5378661) Journal
    I can't wait until MS finally loses its dominant desktop position, and the onus of cloning their interfaces to make it acceptable to Windows users is gone, and the OSS world can strike out on its own.
    • Re:Cloning...yuck (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Some Bitch (645438)
      No matter what other faults they may or may not have (fence sitter ahoy \o/) MS spend millions on research into human/computer interaction and user interface design. Occasionally they take ideas from OSS (did I read elsewhere in this thread about virtual desktops and taskbar applets?) if the idea is good and why shouldn't they? We (I use the word 'we' very loosely here, my coding isn't exactly top class) are more than happy to build interfaces based on the results of their millions of dollars worth of research and linux is all the better for it.
      • Re:Cloning...yuck (Score:5, Insightful)

        by 0x0d0a (568518) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @02:02PM (#5380137) Journal
        No matter what other faults they may or may not have (fence sitter ahoy \o/) MS spend millions on research into human/computer interaction and user interface design.

        And what has it led to?

        A filesystem browser squashed together with a web browser (done for political reasons).

        The Start menu (this has been torn to pieces on the Interface Hall of Shame).

        WMP 9.

        Outlook's custom widget (with the mailbox name).

        Each version of Office using completely different widgets than all other apps in Windows.

        All with poor UIs.

        Most of the rest of what Microsoft's done has been heavily based on Apple's ideas, or HCI driven by technical flaws. There was the dual filename system because they made the poor choice to use 8.3 filenames. Then the Start Menu, because Windows developers used masses of completely unidentifiable data file names slapped in the same directory as the executable. MDI, which was produced for Windows 3.1 because the VM system sucked and MDI reduced load on it.

        Occasionally they take ideas from OSS (did I read elsewhere in this thread about virtual desktops and taskbar applets?)

        I *wish* they'd take the idea of virtual desktops. One of the biggest things Windows needs.

        are more than happy to build interfaces based on the results of their millions of dollars worth of research and linux is all the better for it.

        Is a combined web browser/file browser really that crucial or useful, or just included to help out ex-Windows users?
  • another site (Score:4, Informative)

    by suhit (171059) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @11:11AM (#5378670) Homepage
    Since this site seems /.'ed already, here are another ones that have some screenshots too -

    http://www.wininsider.com/news/comments.aspx?mid=3 069 [wininsider.com].
    http://users.pandora.be/AMDtje/Office11_2.htm [pandora.be]
    http://www.slipstick.com/outlook/ol11.htm [slipstick.com]

    Suhit
  • Numb (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mao che minh (611166) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @11:14AM (#5378693) Journal
    I have become numb to Microsoft upgrades. There was virtually no difference between Office and Office 97. The differences between Office 97 and 2000 were mostly visual (and the addition of broken compatibilities). The differences between Windows 98 and Windows ME were just pointless. I still consider Windows XP an expensive, restrictively licensed downgrade to Windows 2000.

    This will likewise fail it.

    • Re:Numb (Score:5, Informative)

      by Planesdragon (210349) <slashdot&castlesteelstone,us> on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @11:34AM (#5378855) Homepage Journal
      There was virtually no difference between Office and Office 97. The differences between Office 97 and 2000 were mostly visual (and the addition of broken compatibilities). The differences between Windows 98 and Windows ME were just pointless. I still consider Windows XP an expensive, restrictively licensed downgrade to Windows 2000.

      In all that, you're right on the money for 98/ME; ME never should have been, and if not for RAMBUS it wouldn't have been. But as for the rest: MS has got lots of small improvements in each iteration of office. Blame planned obsolescence.

      * Office 97 was the first package with reasonable HTML built-in. Yes, it's bloated HTML with all of the Office metadata, and yes, they'd have been better if they copied Acrobat's Word-UI. But that's neither here nor there.

      * Office 2000 introduced a whole heck of new features--most notably for most of us, those auto-hiding menus, multiple windows in the taskbar, and a built-in clipboard that can hold twelve "cuts."

      * Office XP doubled the size of the clipboard, gave word discontinuous selection ability, and introduced that somewhat-useful task pane.

      * Windows XP, over 2000, has a major improvement just in explorer.exe. You can customize your start menu to your heart's content, the system tray auto-hide (or mannualy hide) icons, and the gooy GUI is, if nothing else, "new." (And being able to turn off all of the above is rather nice, too.)
  • Wow... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Jon Abbott (723) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @11:18AM (#5378723) Homepage
    So you're saying that Microsoft has reduced all of their Office apps to just show the words "500 - Server too busy"? :^)
  • by bedouin (248624) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @11:31AM (#5378838)
    - No new features that you will actually use. Most of them you will probably end up hiding away in some toolbar far away, simply because it annoys the hell out of you to see.

    - More zany XP balloon like menu bars. In addition, even more light blue and Aqua-like design rip offs.

    - Like Office XP, and Office 2000, you definitely won't rush to buy this release, however the minute you, or your friend warezes it on IRC, you will most likely install it -- just because.

    - You will be further annoyed by the traditionally bland Windows GUI design. Recent attempts in XP to spruce it up only look like JeffK [somethingawful.com] was hired as a designer at Microsoft.

    - If you are an owner of a Mac you fold your hands together, thankful for OS X, and its great design. If you are Linux or BSD user, you are likewise happy that you have a beautiful design. If you are a Windows user, you are most likely reading this from your corporate headquarters, feeling constrained by the tie around your neck, and uncomfortable dress shoes. However, you are refreshed knowing that through your extreme conformity, and love of mediocrity, you will make much more than your neighbor yearly, and are anxiously awaiting to moment you can upgrade all of your machines to this marvelous new piece of Microsoft engineering -- but you still don't know why. Now if only you could find time for sexual relations within your 9 AM to 10 PM daily work schedule . . .
  • by mattyohe (517995) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {ehoy.ttam}> on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @11:32AM (#5378850)
    Yeah microsoft was touting this program... Its not bad.. Its visually better and looks like they are just adding more and more shit... Only people who use crap like franklin covey shit will enjoy all the features, becase now they wont need to buy that program.

    Also they are releasing a new program with all of this... OneNote link here [microsoft.com]

    This brings up my next rant... Why can't we have a unified interface for everything I need to do?! Its like.. All of these updates are nice and all.. but I don't see any real innovations. Word Excel Powerpoint Access Outlook all in different programs is still a clumsy way to operate. Alt Tabbing or dual monitors isn't cool enough anymore.. I need it all in one program. Is there any project that is actually working on something like this?
  • Not Outlook (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mbbac (568880) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @11:35AM (#5378860)
    If the Linux herd is going to clone anything; it should be Apple Mail, iCal, and Address Book. Small, lightweight, and excellent utilities for their functions.
  • Cloning or not ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by timothy (36799) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @11:36AM (#5378870) Homepage Journal
    Actually, when I look at these screenshots, I think "Phew, I'm glad that I have OpenOffice and other things to type with!"

    Now, Office has a lot of Big Complicated Features which may be interesting and useful to you if your office / job has evolved to rely on them. I don't use office-suite progams much, and when I do I don't usually have anything too exotic in the way of combining features. I do find that I can paste in sections of spreadsheet, graphics and such into OpenOffice pretty well though.

    OpenOffice does have a big problem to me, though, which is that fonts are usually ugly, reminds me or the way Word (3? 4? whatver version is was) looked on my old toaster Mac. This is not, strictly speaking , OO.org's fault, since ugly fonts are the result of complicated interactions among a lot of things in the system ... on a system that's been tweaked to look nice, this becomes not-a-problem.

    It has some other problems too (annoying default behavior wrt to autocompletion of words, lists, etc), but these are in Word and most other Word Processors, too. On the whole, I'd much rather write a letter in OpenOffice, and have :)

    Upshot: these screenshots don't inspire envy the way I thought they might when I opened them.

    timothy

  • by kahei (466208) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @11:38AM (#5378889) Homepage

    Well, I've been wandering around with a handful of mod points looking for some posts about the actual new Office UI/features to mod up, but there aren't any because everyone was trolled by the cloning bit in the original item!

    Ah well, it wouldn't be slashdot otherwise :)

    • Well, I've been wandering around with a handful of mod points looking for some posts about the actual new Office UI/features to mod up, but there aren't any because everyone was trolled by the cloning bit in the original item!

      What, you can't find another fanboy crowing about how wonderful the new features are? Where are the IE trolls when you need them? I wonder why you are having such a hard time.

      Wait a minute, those idiots never did mention anything specific now did they? They always say silly general things about "lots of features" "great user interface" and what not that means nothing.

      Perhaps you can do something useful and NAME A USEFUL FEATURE anyone might find on M$. In two years of slaving as an engineer in a M$ "partner" I never saw anything impressive. Most of the newer features, such as autolist and auto spell change were anoyances. The older features, like drawing tools were inferior to those available in free or no cost drawing packages such as the GIMP or Paint Shop Pro. Synching my visor to Outlook was nice, but Outlook was vastly inferior to the applications that came with the Visor itself. Outlook lacked the ability to tack notes into appointments and the notes it did have did not fit enough information to be useful. So, tell me a nice story of innovation instead of bitching about your fellow troll and fanboy posts not meeting your expectations.

  • by wfrp01 (82831) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @11:40AM (#5378912) Journal
    You like MS Office, you say? Who's going to buy this for you? Are you going to buck up for your own copy at home? Or, like most people, are you expecting your company to buy it for you? That way, it's kind of like it doesn't really cost anything, right? Except it does cost something. It's money your company could have paid you directly. It's money your company could have used to improve their market penetration. It's money your company could have used to improve their facilities. It's money that could have been used to increase the R&D budget. It's money that could have been used to hire additional staff. And on and on.

    But a new version of Office with pretty new buttons and a three panel view like Outlook? A new version that's intentionally incompatible with everything else in the world, including Microsoft's own products? That's precious.
  • by Tha_Big_Guy23 (603419) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @11:42AM (#5378925)
    Here's all the screenshots I could find, barring reading the article as it's slashdotted. maybe the article's important, maybe not.

    Screenshot Of Office 2003 Pic 1 [microsoft.com]
    Screenshot Of Office 2003 Pic 2 [microsoft.com]
    Screenshot Of Office 2003 Pic 3 [microsoft.com]
    Screenshot Of Office 2003 Pic 4 [microsoft.com]
    Screenshot Of Office 2003 Pic 5 [microsoft.com]
    Screenshot Of Office 2003 Pic 6 [microsoft.com]
    Screenshot Of Office 2003 Pic 7 [microsoft.com]
    Screenshot Of Office 2003 Pic 8 [microsoft.com]
    Screenshot Of Office 2003 Pic 9 [microsoft.com]
    Screenshot Of Office 2003 Pic 10 [microsoft.com]
    Screenshot Of Office 2003 Pic 11 [microsoft.com]
    Screenshot Of Office 2003 Pic 12 [microsoft.com]
    Screenshot Of Office 2003 Pic 13 [microsoft.com]
    Screenshot Of Office 2003 Pic 14 [microsoft.com]
    Screenshot Of Office 2003 Pic 15 [microsoft.com]
    Screenshot Of Office 2003 Pic 16 [microsoft.com]
    These screenshots aren't in any particular order, and there's a few shots of what appears to be the next version of Visual Studio, although, I could be mistaken.
  • by shadwwulf (145057) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @11:42AM (#5378927) Homepage
    Here is a shot [fisher-price.com] straight for the UI testing lab for Office 12

    Or at least it could be considering how pre-schoolish UI's are getting these days.
  • by dgrgich (179442) <drew@nOsPaM.grgich.org> on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @12:40PM (#5379446) Homepage
    I hate to say it but Outlook is the only reason that we're sticking with Office in my company. We've done evaluations of StarOffice & OpenOffice and other packages like these. However, none of them interact with our Exchange system the way that our customers demand. They want seamless calendaring and the other features that Outlook & Exchange provides.
  • by miffo.swe (547642) <daniel,hedblom&gmail,com> on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @01:01PM (#5379607) Homepage Journal
    This is the reason that i prefer Scribus, Gimp and others over Open Office/MS Office etc for my work. The reason is that applications made to do everything including taking the dog for a walk is always halfgood at what they do. Single applications made for one specifik purpose doesnt have those problems. Having separated applications is also something that spurs interoperability and standards adherence. I really want to be able to swap out any of the applications i use without having to change the fileformat and export/import everything.

    I think the best approach would be better adherance to standars in the open source community. We should develop and adopt standards for every format of documents avaliable and tout them harder than ever. The MS format lockin must be broken from within MS own user base and that can be possible if every other company and entityoutside MS supports an open standard.
  • by symbolic (11752) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @01:04PM (#5379627)

    I'm thinking about a picture of Joe Average Computer User in shackles and menacles, with the caption, "Palladium Inside".
  • by gmezero (4448) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @01:18PM (#5379763) Homepage
    With assinine comments link this "Nice to get a head start on what we'll be cloning next year ;)", as the footnote to this news posting. It now becomes clear to me why the computer GUI will never truely evolve beyond what it is today. Thanks Taco for the insight!

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