Since Microsoft gave PDC attendees the first look at Office 12, there’s been a slew of reports around the web accusing it of – you guessed it – stealing the interface from Apple. Jensen Harris, of the Office UI team, busts this one in a post on his blog:
The long and short of it is: what you’re seeing now is just temporary artwork and doesn’t share the visual look and feel we intend for the final product. What you can focus on is the interaction design: the controls, concepts, and way of working with the product. That is a piece we’re ready to start getting feedback on.
Having a temporary skin is a routine part of how we engineer software at Microsoft–you probably saw the "Slate" theme early in Windows Vista, and may remember that the final skins for Windows XP ("Luna") and Office 2003 both showed up close to shipping the product.
So what does the final skin look like? Not telling, but I think it looks great and it certainly won’t be confused with Mac OS X.
So let that be the end of that one!