WSJ's Mossberg Reviews New Office Suite '07

Microsoft just released a complete redesign of its ubiquitous Office software. Wall Street Journal technology columnist Walt Mossberg reviewed it today, and he says he was “cursing the program for weeks” while trying it out. Users who plan to upgrade better be prepared for a steep learning curve.

Mossberg credits Microsoft for its radical undertaking and says that overall the redesign was well done. But those who have been using the program for 20 years might have some trouble getting used to the new “Ribbon” navigation bar. All the previous menus – such as File, Edit, Tools and View – are gone. So are all the familiar task icons. Now, Office uses this “Ribbon” as the home for a number of new tabs and icons to organize and format documents.

“People need to be prepared, and to weigh in their own minds,” says Mossberg, “what they expect will be the value of this redesign versus the time it will take to learn it.”

Both Mossberg and Bill Griffeth will be at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next week. The tech guru is expecting the focus to be on gadgets that move media around the home and the continued morphing of cell phones into multimedia devices. The most likely leader in these spaces, Apple, will be hosting its own competing show in San Francisco on Tuesday.