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About Office 2007 UI Licensing
For the first time, Microsoft has an answer to whether other people can use its innovative Office user interface in their own applications. The answer is yes, and they are providing a royalty-free licensing scheme that will allow you to use the new Ribbon interface that has come about due to the extensive research done by them in this area.
The technologies introduced with the Office 2007 user interface are intellectual property that belongs to Microsoft, and in order to preserve the general look and feel of the interface, licensees are required to comply with a set of guidelines. In short, if you want to use the Office 2007 user interface you must be licensed (this is free) and your license requires that you comply with the guidelines. Licensing a third-party component such as SandRibbon does not mean you are licensed to use the Office 2007 user interface.
SandRibbon fully complies with the Office 2007 user interface guidelines.
As a control vendor we were involved early in the process to help refine the license and guidelines. They are fairly strict, and if an application developer wants to copy the Office 2007 user interface the only logical course of action is to license a third-party control, such as our own SandRibbon product, that helps them do this while complying with the guidelines. We also go far beyond what the guidelines require, offering such extras as custom color schemes and right-to-left support.
It is important to note that although a third-party component such as SandRibbon can greatly ease the task of complying with the guidelines, it cannot be wholly responsible. Some guidelines are beyond the scope of the enabling component and fall on the developer using the component as to how they configure it. Developers should be familiar with the guidelines and should ensure their application complies.