One of the most anticipated changes to Microsoft Office will be the inclusion of the Metro interface. The Metro interface is the interface that was first introduced on Windows Phone 7 and is slated to be used in Windows 8.
One of the main reasons why Microsoft chose to create this new interface was because the world is transitioning to touch screen devices. I fully expect Office 15 to use a clean-looking interface that is optimized for touch screen environments.
The Metro design was created to have a clean look, but the Metro interface is going to be about more than just aesthetics. Windows 8 and Microsoft Office 15 will be capable of running on all manner of devices, including smartphones with small screens. Keeping the display as uncluttered as possible will be critical to making Office 15 usable on small screen devices.
This concept can be seen in the early preview release of Office 15. Although the ribbon interface still exists in early builds of Office 15, it is minimized when it is not being used[md]to maximize the amount of display space that can be used for editing documents.
Along the same lines, there are rumors that Microsoft will finally optimize Office for use on wide-screen (16:9) displays. Although Microsoft Office has long been able to run on wide-screen displays, the software has not been optimized to take advantage of the wide-screen format. PowerPoint 2010, for example, still defaults to creating slides designed to fit nearly extinct 4:3 monitors.
Optimizing Office to take advantage of wide-screen displays will do more than just update Office for modern hardware. It will enable the office products to more efficiently use the available desktop real estate. This becomes particularly important when you consider that Office 15 will eventually run on mobile computing devices that may have screens that are as small as 3 or 4 inches.
As you can see, from an architectural standpoint Office 15 will be quite different from previous versions of Office. Of course, every new version of Office also comes with a whole slew of new features, so it will be exciting to see what the future holds for Microsoft Office when the consumer preview is eventually released.