I have been searching this morning for more Office 12 information and came across Niklas’ blog and a post titled "Microsoft Office 12, so far". It's a good look at the cool things coming in Office 12. I've seen some of these features demonstrated, and I like most of them, particularly the PowerPoint improvements. As in an earlier version of Office, it'll be PowerPoint that will be my killer excuse for upgrading. And while Outlook looks nice, I'm still sticking with Turnpike for now as my main mail client.
Niklas also mentions the lack of any sort of Classic mode for the UI, and his bet with a journalist friend. While I do think that most power users can get used to the lastest Office UI, I can see an initial loss of productivity, and/or the need for some training. And of course, some of the older add-ins are not going to work as nicely as they did in the current versions of Office. It remains to be seen if this initial productivity drop and loss of features is a real issue, or just another up front cost worth paying for productivity down the line.
I'm also not sure how I'll feel, once I get over the newness, about all the added eye-candy (the floating menus, ribbons changing, etc) particularly on my older and slower systems. This makes for a very cool demo, but I wonder whether this is just more flashy eye-candy that gobbles system resources, or a valuable paradigm shift delivering greater productivity. We'll see. I'm sure keeping an open mind on the overall value, even if I can not escape the view that more conservative corporates may find a Classic Mode desirable.