Vista launches today, and so does (officially at least) the new version of MS Office. I have to say, from all appearances, the UI changes for Office look to be a gutsy, necessary, and successful revamp for the Office franchise. I often say "you can't lead by following..." (which is dumb, but you know what I mean :)) - and I have to hand it to Microsoft; the changes don't feel arbitrary (for the most part) and at a minimum have created the kind of buzz for Office we haven't seen in probably nearly a decade.
Again, sounds dumb to say, but change doesn't mean "well really kind of the same"... so, kudos - to both Vista and Office launching (well, sorta), on the same day no less. Both products genuinely are a major achievement that balance familiarity with forward movement pretty well. I don't love the real estate compromise(s), but I'll get over it - it does bring forward a LOT I didn't tend to remember to use in the Office Suite.
Interesting in all of this is MS's attempt to proactively control the IP surrounding the product's "look and feel" with their Office UI licensing program - I particularly like how they're willing to "share their invesment". Thanks guys! (*cough* zune *cough*)
I also particularly like the last answer in this interview with the PM for MS Office:
"A: Historically, most of the more substantial UI breakthroughs have happened in Office and later moved to Windows. We continue to talk to the Windows team about what aspects (of the new Office UI) would make sense for them."
That guy MUST have read How to Win Friends and Influence People :P
(kidding! - we knew what he meant... at least, I'm sure the Window team does :D)