With Office 12, due out in the second half of 2006, Microsoft is hoping to entice users with a new system that automatically pops up what it thinks are the most relevant commands based on whether the user appears to be typing a list, editing someone else's work or performing some other job.Could be good, could be another Clippy.
The company developed the automated system by tracking ... every keystroke of some Office users.
Allison also noted this "is part of an industry-wide trend of trying to personalize technology based on user habits."
Update: In the comments to this post, Gerald Rousselle points out that ex-Amazon Personalization Director Ron Kohavi may be involved in building these personalization features for Office 12.
Update: Jensen Harris, a PM on the Office 12 team, says the AP article got it wrong:
[Myth:] The New UI Tries To Automatically Guess What I Want To Do NextThanks, Harvey Motulsky, for pointing me at Jensen's post.
There was a wire report that was picked up by a gazillion news outlets ... The title of the wire article was "Microsoft: Office 12 to Anticipate Needs".
The reality of the situation is actually exactly the opposite. We looked into all kinds of different interaction design models several years ago when we started this process. Some of them explored the notion of trying to have an even more automatic "auto-customizing" UI that was constantly re-optimizing itself based on usage. The result was as you might guess: unpredictable, unreliable, and meddlesome.
One of the key tenets [of our design doc] was: "No Automatic UI. Prefer predictable, consistent, and human-designed over clever and auto-optimized."