Microsoft Office 2010 is Plain Ugly

What in the world happened at Microsoft? I don’t care how much they try to spin this, but the interface of Office 2010, especially Outlook 2010 is super ugly!

According to a post on the blog of the developers of Office 2010:

“When designing Outlook 2010, we worked hard to ensure that the colors, shapes, and text used within the product provide a pleasant experience and make it easy for you to get work done. We have done this by redesigning parts of the user interface to give Outlook a clean, crisp, high-quality look that is free from distracting visual elements. By simplifying many parts of the user interface, we’ve allowed your e-mail messages and meetings to shine in the foreground better than ever before! Let’s take a look at some examples of how the new visuals improve Outlook.”

I have tried all three themes and it is still ugly. The blue actually looks more like gray-blue and the silver is just blah. It looks like a patchwork of disparate parts that makes Office 2007 a world apart in terms of being together. I do not even know where to start. They removed the orb that was just starting to grow on us ( a lot of people hated it when it first arrived, as with all new things). They threw menus all over the place…I am at a loss for words to describe my disappointment with this iteration of Microsoft Office.

Take a look at the images below and tell me which one “shines”:

Outlook 2007 Outlook 2010

Take the black color scheme in Outlook for example: It totally looks out of place. You have these gray (not black) panels on three sides with a white box slapped in the middle. We have square icons which look clunky, to say the least. I never really noticed it before but the ugly color is across the entire suite! So I get to stare at depressing silver-gray whether I’m using Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint or Access. To rub the ugliness in, they have some weird pink highlights on the menu in Access to go with the gray theme (shudder).

Don’t get me wrong. We are not discussing functionality here. In that area, I like what they’ve done and you can read about the nifty stuff you can do with the new version here. Upgrade from Enterprise edition to Professional Plus went smoothly and the backstage thing is cool. But man, the interface in Outlook takes you back to the NT days and makes that of Office 97 kind of cool.

My take is that this will get everyone bemoaning the curse of a monopoly all over again. Microsoft, please hire some Linux developers or borrow some from Apple to help out with UI designs – imagination runs wild in those places. Appearance does matter.