APC Magazine had a chance to sit down and snag some juicy details from Mary Starman, group product manager for the MacBU, on the next version of Microsoft Office for the Mac. Probably the most significant change will be a UI redux (while still accounting for Apple's UI guidelines), borrowing from the controversial new 'ribbon' UI Microsoft is introducing in Office 12 for Windows (if you want a rundown on the new Office for Windows UI, check out Download Squad's killer video review, but remember - that isn't exactly what we'll be getting). For standards buffs, the new versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint are adopting the new native XML file format.
The next version of Office for the Mac will, of course, be a Universal Binary, and Mary referred to that alone as a big milestone for the team, as they cited many of the same major challenges as Adobe in updating a lot of really, really old code for Apple's Xcode. This challenge, however, is one of the reasons we aren't going to see a new version of Office for the Mac until sometime between July and September of 2007 - as long as everything stays on track.
For more details, check out APC Magazine's interview with Mary for more details on what to expect in this major Office update.