Last week, I called into our TechRepublic recording studio

to participate in a roundtable discussion on first

impressions of Office 2007 Beta 2. I’ve just barely dipped a toe in this

beta, but I can tell it’s going to be fun to splash around. I don’t know about

actually USING it, however; I’m already feeling a little cantankerous at the

prospect of the software trying to spoon-feed me prefab document elements and deciding

what options I need while limiting my power to push things around.

For those who haven’t sampled the beta for themselves, we’ve

put together a ton of photo gallery images that show, among other things,

Office 2007’s option-packed “ribbon,” which is supposed to rescue users

from the confounding dilemma of deciding which menu to haul open in search of a

way to achieve a task. I continue to be struck by the irony that Microsoft has

decided to combat the problem of feature overkill by ADDING MORE FEATURES. Of course,

the design changes are supposed to turn feature-bloat into feature-rich. Anyone

buying that?

Beta 2 photo galleries:

Along with the gallery images, you might want to check out

the podcast to hear a few opinions on what the drastic UI changes may mean for

users, what the pricing/licensing structure may mean for organizations, and how

the new version is likely to be received.

If you listen carefully, you’ll also hear my dog Reuben
offering his thoughts (squirrel, truck, kibble).