I just woke up after dozing off in my room. It's 2:30AM and HBO is just finishing up with The Terminal starring Tom Hanks. Some days I feel like Viktor Navorski. Wonder if I could fall asleep at PDC and live there for a week undetected? Maybe I'll try that tonight after the Universal Studios party.
After watching the public unveiling of Office 12 there's been a lot of posts of screenshots and peoples opinions of the new UI and features (including a lot of bitching and griping from the Slashdot crowd which isn't surprising). One thing I really like is the paradigm shift from the traditional Windows menu to the tabbed toolbar idea. Sure, there are some applications that I've seen that have tabbed toolbars but to merge the toolbar and menuing system and replace it, that's slick. I mean, we've been with the File/Edit/Help menu design since Windows 3.0 (or even earlier) and it's part of the CUA/SAA (?) standards (my memory may be stale but I think it's CUA?). I for one really think this is a big change and something that is for the better. I love the menu system idea but then when you look at tabbed toolbars, well it just makes more sense. It still takes up the same real estate for the menu items and on applications with a toolbar (which ones don't have it these days) you still have the same toolbar area (okay, the Office 12 toolbars take up a little more horizontal space) so why not only have toolbars? It makes sense and seems like an improvement. As for user training and such, I don't see a big leap here as the tabs appear very much like the current Menu items and well, people are used to toolbars already. I for one welcome our Toolbar Tab overlord.
The killer is of course the extensibility that was briefly demonstrated during the keynote where you can add your own tabs or inject controls onto existing tabars. I really hope by the launch that they'll adopt this consistently across all products as it still isn't completely there for IE7 and things yet but I'm sure it will be. Just a little thing but a nice improvement and something to look forward to. For those building on the Vista platform, you can take advantage of it through the improvements in the framework but today, keep it in mind when you're building Fat and Smart Client apps the next time you sit down to start a design. You might like the change and it would prepare your users for the leap forward into the next version of Office. Again, keep an eye out on Office 12 stuff especially around new SharePoint features which will be flooding the channels after the keynote today.
If you're looking to see who's going to be "manning" the SharePoint/Office lounge check out Erika Ehril's post here with the names and times. Erika is responsible for the lounge and is also the Site Manager of the MSDN Office Developer Center (ODC) and runs a pretty tight ship (yes kids, a girl who knows code and stuff, odd huh?). Fitz isn't officially listed (guess he's higher up the food chain? or maybe lower) but he'll be there as will some of the MVPs that are down here at the conference (I don't have a definitive list of who is but feel free to chime in on MSN and let me know).