In my posting yesterday about Paul Thurrott's review of the "dark side" of Windows RC1, I emphasized Paul's comments about the inconsistent UI in Windows Vista, and extended that out to what I've seen of Office 2007 so far.  My key point was that I often hear the supposed consistency and familiarity of Microsoft interfaces as a reason that users express preference for using Outlook, even when that consistency doesn't actually exist.

Some interesting responses.  Stephen Hood left some comments that point out some remarkable inconsistencies in the existing Office interface.  Microsoft's Peter de Haas picked up the discussion, with two images from the Office 2007 beta that actually show the inconsistencies being discussed.  However, Peter seemed concerned that I was challenging without actual experience with the product.  Duly noted -- I based my comments on what I've seen from my colleague Alan Lepofsky, who has done a detailed analysis of the current build of Outlook 2007.  

Alan wasn't content to let the back-and-forth take place without facts and evidence.  So, Alan posted several screen shots that show the challenges and inconstencies in the Outlook 2007 UI.  Here's my favorite from his posting:

I love this screen.  "Calendar, My Calendars, Calendar, Browse Calendar, Send a Calendar, Publish Calendar..."  Do you think the developers get paid by the number of times they use the word calendar per inch?  :-)
Image:Alan Lepofsky judges the Outlook 2007 user experience
Alan also highlights inconsistencies in visual cues:
Here are four different shapes all next to each other.  What is the difference between a solid triangle and a triangle with a line over it?   Don't they both cause drop down boxes to appear?

 Image:Alan Lepofsky judges the Outlook 2007 user experience
Alan concludes with this, which is a great way to respond when the boss or the MS bigots say that Microsoft is easier to use:
The above examples only took me five minutes to point out, and they are from a single product, Outlook.   I hate to think what I would discover doing an in depth comparison of Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Messenger, Groove, InfoPath, OneNote, SharePoint, etc.
Wouldn't that be interesting.

Link: Alan Lepofsky: Judging a product's user experience >

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