Things of Beauty

One of our goals for the Office 2007 user interface was to make it easier to create beautiful output.

In many circumstances, you are judged by the quality of the output you create. And software that helps you create beautiful output makes you look smart and feel good.

Many of the features of the new UI, including the Ribbon, galleries, and Live Preview, were designed together to create an environment in which you can discover and easily use the power of Office's formatting capabilities. Add to this the new Office 2007 graphics engine, and suddenly in a few clicks, you can create beautiful-looking output without learning to be a Photoshop expert.

Every kind of object in Office 2007 (table, chart, picture, drawing, etc.) has an overall gallery on its first contextual tab which allows you to set the overall style for the object.

Every object has a gallery of overall styles available

Although you can continue tweaking and formatting to get highly customized results, the default choices are designed to be beautiful right out-of-the-box; with one click you can achieve graphics designer-quality results.

From time to time I've shown some of these styles on my blog—a chart or two, a SmartArt diagram, or a table, for instance. We've been working on the contents of these galleries quite a bit since Beta 2, and in the upcoming Beta 2 Technical Refresh you will notice improved styles in many areas.

The one place we probably spent the most time was in updating the Picture Styles gallery. Pictures are among the most frequently inserted objects into an Office document or e-mail message, and so we wanted to have a set of pictures styles which were really beautiful and broadly useful. The placeholder content in Beta 2 was fine, but we didn't think they were as good as they could be.

So, over the course of a few months, people across a number of teams (including my team, the OfficeArt team, the Office Design Group, and other interested parties) worked together to create a new set of breathtaking picture styles for Office.

You'll see the full set of twenty-eight styles debut in the Beta 2 Technical Refresh. They showcase much of what you can do with the new graphics engine—inner shadows, outer shadows, reflections, 3D rotation, soft edges, bevels, and much more—to create a set of beautiful general-purpose styles. In the ease-of-use category: each of them can be applied with a single click and previewed just by hovering over them.

To give you a taste of what to expect, here are nine of the styles applied to some of the default pictures shipped in Windows Vista RC1:

Nine of the twenty-eight picture styles that will debut in Beta 2 TR.
(Click to enlarge - 1.4 MB)

Note: In your own documents, I don't recommend putting nine different styles directly next to one other. :)

The new picture styles can be used whenever you insert or select a picture in Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Excel.

By the way, the best place to learn about the graphics and themes capabilities of Office 2007 is the PowerPoint and OfficeArt blog.