Microsoft is getting a whole lotta love for the revamped look and feel of its 2007 Microsoft Office suite.

Office 2007Click on the image to see the new toolbar ribbon in full.

Note the large round button on the upper-left corner. This is the Office Button, and it’s the one-stop shop for all the critical functions that can be performed on the document.

The menu interface is now–to borrow a term from Genius– activity-based. Or as Microsoft puts it, results-oriented. So the options now come in friendlier phrases (“Package for CD”) rather than the traditionally terse menu-hopping madness (“File… Open…”). And the ribbon tabs are now context-sensitive, so that if, say, you click on a chart, then the chart menu pops into the ribbon.

In short, the orientation is now more towards the needs of laymen rather than geeks. The difference is that whereas in the old Office, only geeks would know how to fiddle with hold-and-click layouts to touch up a piechart, the new Office uses Galleries that offer end-results in ordinary language (i.e. “Show Legend at Bottom”), along with live previews of how the option would affect the file. That, plus you will now notice lots of explanatory texts to clarify each option that you choose.

Also new is the Mini Toolbar. Highlight text on your Word document and the toolbar pops up right next to it, giving you access to the most common formatting options so that you need not drag your mouse all the way to the Ribbon menu on top.

It’s all a big plus for ease of use. The geeks who know how to fiddle with hold-and-click layouts to touch up a piechart might not lift an eyelid, but for the average user who wants to do more but is too afraid to budge, this would give a sense of relief.

Here are a few more screen shots. Click to see the larger image:

2007 Microsoft Word Microsoft Office

2007 Microsoft OutlookMicrosoft Outlook

2007 Microsoft Powerpoint Powerpoint

2007 Microsoft Excel Excel

Now if only Office was made available at a much cheaper price so that it can see a more realistic wide rollout…