New Microsoft Outlook screenshot leaked, still NOT designed for tablets

I cannot express the spark of hope I felt when I opened my feeds this morning and read the headline “How Microsoft Will Revamp Office For Tablets” from Business Insider. Here I thought, even in the wake of the iPad, we would continue to see no concessions made… and I was right.

The screenshots posted by winreview.ru reveal that Microsoft Outlook will gain the ribbon interface in the main window, not just in individual items. The navigation pane gets a makeover with the shortcut buttons moved to a row at the bottom with a Metro-like appearance. Looks quite clean and attractive, but adding the ribbon to the main Outlook window merely unifies the Microsoft Office interface, while the Metro-like buttons are just existing buttons that were redecorated and relocated. While the large buttons on the ribbon make it easier to use on tablets, these changes simply aren’t tablet-specific. Frankly, it’s embarrassing that anyone would think they are.

Now while I am a little ticked at Matt Rosof at Business Insider for suckering me in with false hope, the fact is, he is absolutely correct that revamping Windows is not enough to make Microsoft successful with tablets. Their major applications, particularly Office, must also make the leap (we’ve read from one insider why that didn’t already happen). Unfortunately, these screenshots don’t show that happening.

Perhaps Microsoft will follow Apple’s example with iWork and release tablet-specific versions of Office as separate apps. Perhaps they’ll finally get a clue and incorporate some of the fantastic (and now defunct) third-party add-ons, like Tablet Enhancements for Outlook, into Office (much as I suggested years ago). Or perhaps they’ll just keep trucking down the same avenue and hope for a different outcome than watching Apple own the tablet market. I’m still hoping for one of the former two, but history points to the latter. Oh, the insanity

Comments

  1. Anon says

    The ribbon-bar is already in the main window in Outlook 2010. That picture is fairly cosmetic cleanup of the existing layout and I would agree that it’s definitely not any better for tablets.

  2. Anonymous says

    I don’t understand what this post is about:
    - Office 15 is just in milestone 2
    - we still don’t know anything about Windows 8, windows tablets, the windows marketplace, etc.
    - clearly reading the business insider article is a waste of time

    • Sumocat says

      The point is, contrary to the BI report, the leaked screenshots have nothing to do with tablets (so I guess your point #3 is it).

      As for what we know, I know plenty about Windows tablets. Been using one since 2004. I currently have six. Improving Office for tablets has been a topic of conversation since the Tablet PC was introduced. I don’t recall anyone ever saying moving the navigation shortcuts to the bottom would cut it.

  3. ericthebikeman says

    I thought there were internal politics that are holding back tablet functionality. Engadget or Ars were saying the cheif of the Office group hated tablets and was actively trying to sabotage the features. This was supposedly part of why Courier was canned along with the J Allard leaving Microsoft.

  4. GoodThings2Life says

    I don’t care what some Russian web site says, that is a screen shot of Outlook 2010 with a customized ribbon (easily done via right click … customize the ribbon).

    I’m not saying that Microsoft is going to rethink and have a different UI yet again after an investment in the ribbon interface, in fact certainly they’re not, but why is this news? Why is this a surprise? This is the standard Office suite, not some optimized for mobile version.

    • Sumocat says

      Could be fake, but if so, they didn’t just rearrange the ribbon. Would have had to ‘shop in the “Metro” buttons and re-do the pane split too.

  5. Feralboy says

    Since Windows 8 is supposed to have different themes for different devices it’s possible Office may go the same route. It they’re not going to offer multiple interfaces, optimizing for keyboard and mouse over tablet/touch makes the most sense to me as even if tablets should take over coporate America in 2012, they’ll have docks and keyboards, making keyboad/mouse use the most common scenario.

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