Microsoft Grants Royalty-Free License for Office UI

Microsoft has announced it will license third-party developers to build applications that have the look and feel of Office 2007 on a royalty-free basis.

The overall concept is to give users the ability to have a common user interface between Microsoft and third-party applications but, if the past is any indication, will also help Microsoft sell Office 2007 in the marketplace. Common UI elements and components means lower training costs and can help customers make an easier transition to the new Office.

High on the list of changes to Office’s interface is the so-called Ribbon that provides users with more contextual control of application operations. But the license also covers other UI features such as galleries and the Mini Toolbar.

Besides the royalty-free license, Microsoft is also going to provide comprehensive design guidelines to help independent software vendors (ISVs) create programs that are consistent with Office 2007, the company said in a statement. However, the company is not licensing any code so ISVs are on their own on that point.

The license will be available as a simple click-through agreement on the licensing Web site, according to Microsoft’s statements.

More information on the royalty-free Office 2007 UI license is available here, although the license itself and the design guidelines have not been posted yet.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services,, and .NET magazines. Contact him at [email protected].