Yeah, so they did away completely with the standard toolbar in Microsoft Office. Here's fairly lengthy video interview with Julie Larson-Green, the manager of the Office team, describing the new interface. I really need to get my act together here. I saw this last week, and am only just now posting on it.
I guess I'll withold judgement until I actually use the thing (although if Fate smiles on me that day may never come), but something about this does smell of change for the sake of change. Maybe the OpenOffice.org folks are getting a mite too good at cloning the Office interface -- no way to know exactly what all different factors are driving this stuff.
But even is you suspend your normal suspicion of MS motives, and assume that a large driver of this change is genuinely trying to serve the needs of the customer, I have to admit I'm a bit dubious about such a radical change all at once to a UI system that has been evolving somewhat organically over time. I'm also crusty and set in my ways, so when something demonstrably works, I set the bar a bit higher for making big changes to it.
The one interesting thing I do take away from the video, though is how eerily like an AJAX Web-app the new Office interface has become. The lack of standard menus is a big part of that, but there's also all the live preview effect and drop-down sheets/menus that look like stuff straight out of a DHTML application.
I don't know if they intended this, or if it's just part of of the ongoing convergence between desktop and Web apps. Maybe playing with the current crop of new AJAX apps has helped the Office team step outside of the normal application-design box.
If, however, this is cross-pollination from Web-apps (and I'm only saying it might be), then that's a pretty telling sign of where things are going, given the status of MS Office as a Grandaddy productivity app.