Previously, I've mentioned that, despite their similar DNA and file interoperability, Microsoft Office for the PC and Mac are different in their own little subtle ways. This is part function: for example, Microsoft Excel on the Mac uses the 1904 date system, while its PC counterpart uses the 1900 system. But it's also part form. Upon first launch, Microsoft Word and Excel on the Mac present a more palette-oriented user interface, with a "toolbox palette," when compared to their pre-ribbon Windows counterparts. For some, this difference in UI schemas may serve as an annoyance.
Though I'll be using Word for this example, you can also make these changes in Excel using the same steps. To make Microsoft Office on your Mac look more Windows-like (pre-Office 2007, that is), first close the "toolbox palette." Next, click on "View," and then click on "toolbars," where you'll be presented with a host of toolbars to choose from. Despite a myriad of choices, choosing the "standard" (which is already selected by default) and "formatting" toolbars provides you with the most similar UI layout to that I've often seen in Microsoft Word on a Windows machine.
While it would be reasonable to assume that wanting to get rid of the toolbox palette would be more applicable to new PC-to-Mac converts, this isn't necessarily so. Regardless of one's sentiments toward Microsoft, most offices are, well, Microsoft Offices running on Windows. A consistent looking Word and Excel on our Macs could better facilitate one's workflow.