Software

There is no going back to the dark days of Office menus

Here are 10 very good reasons why no one should go back to the dark days of Office menus.

When it comes to Office support issues, I tend to think in terms of Ribbon and pre-Ribbon formats. Users all know exactly what that means. Microsoft's push to the Ribbon interface was hard for some users to accept, but I've come to appreciate the work that went into the huge reorganization. Now that I'm fully acclimated and supporting it more than any other version, I miss little about the pre-Ribbon apps.

This post was originally published in the 10 Things Blog.

1: The overall look

The switch to Office 2007 was abrupt. I didn't fully appreciate the new logic until Office 2010, but I'm a true convert now. When I open a pre-Ribbon application, I feel like I'm looking at old high school pictures. The scenery looks old because it is old.

2: InfoPath

InfoPath had a great start, but once Office made the switch to an XML format, many developers let it drop from their radar. The idea was terrific, but it's certainly underused.

3: The toolbars

Did you ever count the number of pre-Ribbon toolbars? True, they were easy to display and hide, but there were too many! Helping users keep them corralled was often a tedious support task.

4: Outlook's we know what's best for you security features

Microsoft decided that email attachments were too dangerous and blocked them. That worked out so nicely for most of us, didn't it? They offered tedious workarounds, but most of us just hacked the Registry and took back control.

5: Macro security

Microsoft was kind of between a rock and hard place on this decision, but macro security went well beyond helpful. It was annoying to users and added a layer of warnings and windows that developers had to inhibit. It's still around (sort of), but it's less intrusive and demanding.

6: The menus

You won't hear me begging Microsoft to bring back my menu and its three- and four-level deep hierarchy. I don't want it back. Once I acclimated myself to the Ribbon, I found most options quicker to access. More options are visible with a quick click to a tab. I no longer hunt through layers of menus to find a command. All Microsoft did was pull layers of commands out of the darkness and into the light.

However, I don't miss 2007's Office button. In fact, I blame the Office button for a good portion of the upgrade angst. It was distracting and it never fit into the UI scenery or the user psyche. Most users thought it was logo! Hiding important options behind a unique (and I don't mean that in a good way) graphic was a major design blunder.

7: Track Changes

Word's Track Changes feature was helpful but a bit hard to grasp. The options and views were confusing to users, especially the views. Users also had trouble discerning whether the feature was on or off. The Ribbon version is better organized, and the options are more descriptive. The Track Changes option in the Tracking group clearly indicates whether the feature is on or off and if that's not enough, the Track Changes indicator on the status bar is easy to add. (There's a Track Changes indicator in the pre-Ribbon version, but most users don't know what it is.)

8: Smart menus

You can't blame Microsoft for trying, but nobody liked or wanted the "personalized" menus. These menus remembered what you used and displayed only the commands you used frequently. Unfortunately, they generated a lot of nuisance support calls because users couldn't find the menu commands they needed. These menus probably looked good on paper, but they were annoying in practice.

9: The Getting Started task pane

This task pane opened by default and consumed about 20 percent of your screen. Whoa! What minor feature gets 20 percent of your screen? It was a bad idea; most users immediately closed it and set about looking for an option to disable it. (They called their help desk.)

10: Outlook, period

Outlook 2003 was a decent product, but Outlook probably benefits the most from the full Ribbon interface. (Outlook 2007 is a mix of menu and Ribbon.) The Ribbon reorganization makes things so much easier. I don't miss a thing about Outlook 2003. I don't even want to support Outlook 2003 anymore.

Your turn

Do you agree that these older features are better off gone? What other pre-Ribbon features are you happy to leave behind -- and what do you wish you had back?

About

Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

83 comments
Thomas.Dahl
Thomas.Dahl

I have been reading time and time again that Microsoft is introducing their new subscription deal as customers are not bothering to upgrade from office 2003 and earlier, and they are desperate to find a way to re-capture these revenue streams. This is partly due to the huge selling price of with little new in the way of functionality. The new subscription model makes the package "look" more affordable, but of course if you do the maths it soon becomes clear that you end up paying the same or more, just in installments. Very smart from their perspective. However, the main reason I never moved on from Office 2003 was the ghastly new interface. I dislike the ribbons with a passion and have not met a single person who has had anything positive to say about them. Of course the forums are full of people who push them for professional reasons ("I'll train you for cash") or simply for fun. In reality most people say that they "survive" the ribbons but certainly do not "like" them. So when you decide if you should take the leap into the subscription model make sure you have done your sums and ask if you really need to do it.. Or if you are only tempted as it appears at first glance to be good value. I have now switched to LibreOffice and a more than happy with the later releases. I open and save in traditional office file formats and I have not found any functionality missing. For email I use The Bat as it can handle my massive email traffic better than Outlook. Google calander provides the best way to share my agenda with multiple devices and users. Sorry Microsoft, but you are telling uses that they need to get used to a more modern way of working, but the way I see it you are simply desperate not to loose more paying customers.

jonc2011
jonc2011

After the disaster of 2007, Office 2010 is at least usable IF (i) you bring your macros in from 2003, (ii) minimize and fully customize the ribbon, and (iii) make full use of the quick access toolbar. But how many users can do that? I am still waiting for MS to allow the QAT to wrap and introduce editable icons, which are needed to bring Office back to the standard of 2003.

wdewey@cityofsalem.net
wdewey@cityofsalem.net

I find that with the ribbon bar that I have to move my mouse across large amounts of the screen to select options which takes longer that click the mouse several times to drill down into a menu. It take me longer to drag my mouse back and forth across the screen several times that it took to click down through several layers of a menu. Bill

eljensen
eljensen

To be fair, I was never a power user in 2003 so the change wasn't so traumatic for me, but I now work in Word 8 hours a day and love the Ribbon.

dave
dave

If I'd wanted cartoon characters I would have bought a comic. It was called "Office" not "Guess what's behind the picture?"

Regulus
Regulus

I use Office 2003 for convenience. I have a 2007 and have trashed it and have no intentions of going to 2010 or otherwise. So what if 2003 goes 'belly - up'? Very simple, I have Open Office & Libre Office as well as Google Docs available. 'Nuff Said.

oldbaritone
oldbaritone

We are the Borg. Existence, as you know it, is over. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. You will use the ribbon. You will believe it is the greatest invention ever. Resistance is futile.

pgradone
pgradone

I have nothing against the ribbon, nor the menu for that matter. But what about giving this choice to the user. Why not letting the USER choose whether to use one or the other?

jayohem
jayohem

There actually are old people (over 50) working these days who have been using Microsoft products for decades (80's, 90's, 00's, 10's). They don't all like relearning something every few years because the kids in Redmond are bored with the way the product looks. All these amazing desktop gizmos are just the interface. The work is done behind the scenes with coding. So, if some code is working just fine and keeping the users happy, why toss it out just to please the artistes who seem to be the fashion designers of a virtual world? And, if you've taken a look at what passes for fashion in the real world, you'll want to think twice before copying that. Might explain why most of us wear jeans and casual tops. It might also explain why so many prefer the sofware equivalent. One little routine they just had to mess with was the old logout routine. IN XP you hit the flag, type U and U again (or click on the icon with the friendly intro) to shut down. The new version is a tad more complicated and not as elegant: Hit the flag, hit the right arrow, hit it again in case Microsoft in its wisdom has some updates to install. If yes, hit enter. If no, select l for logoff, r for restart, etc. or hit the left arrow and hit enter to shut down. Smooooooooooth? I think not. I know that isn't Office, but the same principles apply. Someone at the corporation gets bored and comes up with whatever the young Turks find cool/hot/sexy/phat/whatever. Meanwhile, the paying customer who barely has become accustomed to the the most recent, expensive, proprietary upgrade now has to relearn everything, and when headquarters ever responsive to that mystical group the stockholders declares it no longer will support A, B, C. the paying customer who finally has learned all the tricks, twists, and secret handshakes of D realizes that here come E with yet another expensive learning curve mainly because of a changed GUI.

BillGates_z
BillGates_z

Instead of a small menu that stays out of my way till I need it, I have a thousand bits of crap in my face except the one I need. There are other softwares with context relevant menus that actually work, just not Office.

ed
ed

I'll bet there are many who, like me, have jobs to get done and resent having to adapt to new software that doesn't speed up the process enough to compensate for the time spent learning it. My thought is that Office 1997 might have had it all right (except where they put page setup) and a lot of the changes since then were just fluff and annoyance for a very large fraction of the users. (The help system on the older versions would pop up, rather than give you time to wonder if they were coming at all.) I retired from a career in IT the involved creating a lot of documents, including formal and academic, just in time to avoid the implementation of 2010, but I lived with 2007 for three years. I, too, miss the easy access to keyboard shortcuts and still use the ones I need that still work. However, the previous versions gave you handy hints what they were and 2007-2010 versions don't make it as easy to find them. Articles like this one make me think of writers who convinced themselves the 2010 version is best because they're getting paid to do workshops for upgraders and have to put on a happy face. (That sounds nicer than "Microsoft shill.") Perhaps the ability to describe and expound on the system you're teaching without a condescending attitude toward people who have another system working awfully well can come with more experience.

Badge3832
Badge3832

If I ever master the ribbon, for the rest of my life I'll never make up for the time I've wasted trying to figure it out. It's a productivity loser. [I'm just a user, not a support person. In fact I've never met a support person. How many of those actually exist in the wild?]

DimBulb
DimBulb

I perfer the menu, although I've gotten used to working within the ribbon. There are times when I have to search for functions I rarely use. I have trouble understanding the majority of those so-called international pictorial symbols that get used in place of simple words, so maybe that has something to do with it. MS should give us a choice, after all we are the ones paying for the product.

aamgm
aamgm

Sorry! I've been working professionally with computers since the PC-XT era (~1986), and I have NEVER seen anything so bad as these dreaded 'ribbons'! It seems that everyday users tends to love this new layout, while professional, hardcore users (those who use many of the more advanced features) tends to hate the ribbons. Here is why: With menus, you know exactly where to find a certain feaure, EVERY time! Things are ordered and listed, and can easily be browsed. With ribbons ... where did that feature go ... search, search, search ... arrrgh! I can't find it!!! I HATE IT! I spend HOURS (litterally) searching for functions I used all the time, and sometimes I even give up! At first I thought it was just me ... but then I found out that the majority of the heavy users have the same impression. HERE IS WHAT MS SHOULD HAVE DONE: In Office 2007, they should have given os both worlds: menus AND ribbons, and let us gradually get used to the new look, and let the 'hardcores' users easily find their features. Then, over 3-4 generations of Office, they could have deprecated menus. What they've done is ridiculous! EDIT: +1 to what Kent Lion said!

Elliyeti
Elliyeti

I like the ribbon. You need to let go of the old ways and embrace what is a more intuative interface.

DOSlover
DOSlover

I have had a stab at using the more recent incarnations of office and I am horrified at how much screen real estate is taken up with the less than gossamer like ribbon. It is certainly overly confusing with a range of options plastered up for you to choose from but not necessarily what you are looking for. Printing is an object within a menu, not a nicely placed icon there to be clicked. I think Microsoft needs to provide the option to revert to the 'classic' format otherwise there will be a swing for a great many to OpenOffice and LibreOffice, which are not yet as diversely functional as full blown office but probably enough for most users. When it is being issued free, many will not complain. Let's get back to function and stop trying to be 'cool' by going where the Mac crowd are flocking.

Kent Lion
Kent Lion

Funny how all the articles saying how great the ribbons turned out to be are written by people who either don't seem to be office "power users", or who don't get along too well with computers. Buttons were for the things you used enough so one click access was desired, but not so much you used keyboard shortcuts (if they existed); and for those of us who used them properly, they took up one or two lines of screen space, maximum. Menus were for everything else, and because they were mostly organized logically, it was easy to find most of the things you didn't use regularly (if it had to do with window appearance, it was in the View menu, if it had to do with formatting, the Format menu, etc.) With Office 2007, the ribbons' labels didn't replace the menu's titles, and if a function is on a ribbon tab it may be on a tab with a title that has nothing to do with the function. With the ribbon system, 2 clicks are required to activate most features (Tab then Button), instead of 1, so I ended up using the quick access toolbar not only for things I use enough so one click access was desired, but also for things I used rarely but were impossible to find in the ribbon system without calling up help. And, the ribbon system takes up far more screen real estate than I ever lost to menus and buttons. The question is not "which is better, pre-2007 or post-2007, it's who's it better for. If you want to make things easier for people who don't like or are afraid of computers and who don't want to learn how to use them. Post 2007 is probably better. They might work more efficiently with 2007, but they won't work nearly as efficiently as the others worked pre-2007, or as efficiently as they would if they would learn to use their computer and/or software. Microsoft's priority is more customers, not more efficiency in the workplace. Dumb down your product, and you'll get more customers and keep them dumb so you can sell them more change for the sake of change; but then you've sold them something they don't need, because they won't be using most of the features on the ribbons, let alone the features that aren't easy to find. Microsoft doesn't care if the minority of users has to slow down so some new potential customers feel better.

rogercanter
rogercanter

Most people that hate the ribbon work with all kinds of applications and all kinds of interfaces. Humans like consistency. The ribbon is like walking up to a door with no handles and wondering if it is a push or pull. That moment of confusion just permeates the ribbon metaphor. But if you use that same door every day you get used to it and it becomes second nature.

kmkrreeves1
kmkrreeves1

Office 2007/10 are just like anything else-not a big deal, and you only don't like it because it's new. Even if the changes were minor or unanimously better you would still hate it with the same passion because it's new and it changed.

Sparkerama
Sparkerama

What a non-debate! I don't care if the ribbon is both great-tasing AND less filling. I 100% prefer a different brand of user interface! Since no one is listening to my interface preference and incorporating it into the next incarnation of MS Office, I'll just watch the Bob Uker Miller Lite commercials on youtube. It is as fresh as this blog entry and much more entertaining.

garylavery
garylavery

The point (as stated by many before me here) is that millions upon millions of us have learned using the Office Menu Bar. We have no need OR TIME to learn a new method. We are not suddenly changing from writing a letter to publishing or from computing next year's budget to orbital trajectories. We do the same thing day-in/day-out...TEND TO OUR BUSINESSES...not tend to our word processing and spreadsheet screens. Microsoft is utterly arrogant. They should have kept the old interface available for as long as their user base demands. Funny thing - I can't find a single person THAT I KNOW that likes the ribbon...hmmm.

joseph.r.piazza
joseph.r.piazza

I can get by with the Ribbon in MS Word and a little less in MS Excel but for MS PowerPoint an exceedingly complex application that took years of remembering where to go to do functions>> some menus on top and some menus on bottom and the functions that those menus entail. The ribbon has stop me cold in my tracks. I can barely create one slide now.. I do not need the ability to do animation and I do need fancy backgrounds or formatting just the ability to create simple, information- sharing slides. But, I cannot create them. MS next time MS Office is revised, please give us an add-on that will bring menus back. They are available from 3rd party developers.

Miroslavr
Miroslavr

I find the ribbon space consuming and limited. Many of my users even insist I find them a copy of office 2003 as to the day they do not feel comfortable with the new interface. I personally use 2003, 2007 and 2010 versions of office, in addition to open (libre) office. But the idea that the ribbon system is good for ordinary users is nonsense. After strugling to learn one way of doing things, forcing them to re-learn something so grandma could learn too is nonsense. I really do not believe that office's main users are barely computer literate home users, it's main use is in the office. So why not experiment with works? Until recently it had word 2003 included. Mind that 5 years have passed since the introduction of the ribbon. If there were real competition on this market, office would be dead after this kind of blunder.

n2iph
n2iph

I prefer the old menu system over the current mangled and confusing ribbon in todays Office. I am glad we are still using Office 2003 at work and will resist any change if possible. Sorry but MS screwed up big when they introduced the ribbon. After so many years with the old menus I like so many others who have commented here knew my way around blindfolded. Someone could call me up and ask how to do this or that and I could not even be at the computer and tell them right where to find what they were looking for. As far as the ribbon making more sense than the old menu system, nothing else has changed in all the rest of the software that people use so now they need to learn the ribbon when working in Office and also remember how to do it in the old style menus. So you're now asking those less nerdy than us to know TWO systems of navigating through menus. It's a looser admit it. There are third party work around but they are not as good as the original drop-down menu system was in Office 2003 and its predecessors.

RealGem
RealGem

We're all IT people for whom technology is our passion and our job. Sure we can handle menus; heck, most of us have programmed up some new ones at one point or another. But, we're the 5% of the population (or less) that MS isn't worried about, even though we account for 100% of the readership of this post. MS is worried about how easy Word is for your mother to use. Honestly, I have a user that didn't realized cell phone batteries are rechargeable and kept asking for new ones when the battery died. You can bet that the ribbon makes more sense for her than a hierarchy of menus.

dkathrens77
dkathrens77

The long list of rebuttal comments here should be enough to make you re-consider your statements. THE RIBBON JUST PLAIN SUCKS and nothing you can say is going to change the minds of anyone who has tried them both. There may be a few who will always be dazzled ("the bedazzled") by new stuff, but I'm a firm believer in "If it isn't broken, don't fix it". Yeah M$ I'm talking to YOU TOO.

dkathrens77
dkathrens77

The long list of rebuttal comments here should be enough to make you re-consider your statements. THE RIBBON JUST PLAIN SUCKS and nothing you can say is going to change the minds of anyone who has tried them both. There may be a few who will always be dazzled ("the bedazzled") by new stuff, but I'm a firm believer in "If it isn't broken, don't fix it". Yeah M$ I'm talking to YOU TOO.

ssharkins
ssharkins

It's interesting, for me, to hear from people who hated 2007, but easily made the change to 2010. I'm not sure what switch 2010 flips, but it's something I hear often, and something I experienced myself.

ssharkins
ssharkins

Several of you have made this complaint -- would you mind offering a few examples? I haven't noticed this problem. All of my options have icons and text, and I mostly ignore the icons.

ssharkins
ssharkins

I hear this a lot and I don't have an answer. MS doesn't confide in me. Wish I had some wisdom to share that would help.

ssharkins
ssharkins

I'm 54. I do get tired of being forced into relearning camps every few months, but it does seem to be the reality.

ssharkins
ssharkins

The only time I have to put on a happy face is when my 5 year old granddaughter gets in from kindergarten -- talk about a tough audience! ;) You guys have nothing on a hungry, tired 5 year old! Oh by the way, I don't do workshops and I don't determine who upgrades and who doesn't. In fact, I just recommended a client go back to 2003.

ssharkins
ssharkins

I don't know whether I really am or not -- I think there's a good possibility that a lot of people are quite happy with the ribbon and just don't care enough about the discussion to mention it. This is really a discussion for people who don't like the ribbon and why. I don't get too many complaints from people using the ribbon throughout the day. I think most people just don't care anymore -- they're using it, they're getting their work done, they just don't care. That's just a personal observation though. I think the intensity of the hatred for the ribbon -- still -- surprises me. :)

ssharkins
ssharkins

I wasn't keen on the ribbon at first. Like most old users, I didn't care for relearning the structure. But, I gave it a whirl, and I like it just fine now. It does seem to have been a huge adjustment for people, but honestly, I can remember folks being enraged with the changes in 2003.

dhays
dhays

That is the worst part, I have trouble even with the "pictures" in cars. What ever happend to the words? I sometimes have trouble figuring which is the temperature and the oil guages, the battery, cruise control, etc. I don't read pictures, I read words. That is what the problem with the ribbon is, it is not words!

ed
ed

There is nothing intuitive about any of the interfaces. If your intuition would get you through, we wouldn't have to teach people to use the products. A prime example is the "intuitive" interface of the Mac. A PC user develops expectations and if the hints and signals aren't there, she/he can only advance through trial and error. That's been shown and commented on in the columns and blogs multiple times. My objection to the allegedly intuitive ribbon interface is that it requires me to take my hands off the keyboard while I'm trying to type a document. Whether or not it's intuitive, it also isn't more efficient than having the keyboard shortcuts readily at hand and encouraging them.

SirWizard
SirWizard

Your door metaphor misses a key issue. Microsoft has not only removed the handle on the door, but has also bricked over the door. You are perhaps no longer confused by the absence of the door and have gotten used to climbing in through the window every day, but it is more than a matter of consistency that makes the ribbon a problematic interface to many users.

zimmerwoman
zimmerwoman

There is really no reason for name-calling. Perhaps Microsoft saw that a majority of people, in which you are found, respond better to these strictly graphical user interfaces. Those of us complaining are in the other part of the population and it is not for us the changes were made. The changes were, in large part, a switch GUIs that are placed on tabs in a way I find counter-intuitive. Also, some of the essential tasks are buried in the icons and ribbons in ways that I find crazy-making. IMNTBHO, GUIs are generally for those who are afraid of the keyboard and want to take their hands off of it for any reason possible to get to their comfort zone; the mouse. those of us who type very quickly and hate to leave the keyboard prefer menus. It's pretty much that simple. To be fair, I also didn't like the menu revamp MS did going to Office 97 from whatever preceeded it. I got through it, but only because I could set an option to show transition help that displayed on-screen. I don't remember how that worked, but I remember it being very helpful. I got the most of my Excel transition help from MrExcel.com. For Word, I had to wander in the desert until I found the promised land. In other words, I had to search many sites and watch many videos before I found good information. It can't be had for the searching on the Microsoft office site. It never returned meaningful answers to any of my search terms, even if they were simply the previous menu commands.

SirWizard
SirWizard

I didn't downgrade to Office 2007/10 because the interface would cripple me compared to what I can do with the Office 2003 interface. I jump right on to change that improves my productivity or ease of use. I love things that are new if they help me. But I, and many others, despise change that only makes life more difficult. What does your equivalent of my Word 2003 toolbar button to access Tab settings (single-click access at any time) look like? Oh, wait, you don't have that on your ribbon and can't put it there. Maybe can place an anonymous button on your Not-as-slow Access Toolbar. My tab button requires no explanation to anyone using my interface. The function of my button is obvious because it also includes the word "Tab" in its graphic. I have more than 200 commands available with single-click access in Word 2003, and those commands take up a mere 5% or my screen real estate. So my problem with the ribbon isn't that it is new or different, but that it interferes with my efficient and clear use of the software.

SirWizard
SirWizard

Yes, you need to say more. I wouldn't be surprised if this message gets an admin delete, but: The Ribbon sucks excrement from a dead horse's rectum. It's a shame. If I could have Office 2010 with my customized and customizable toolbars and menu instead of the real-estate wasting, confusing, inconsistent UI, non-customizable ribbon, I'd upgrade from Office 2003. But I see no reason to downgrade my highly functional Office 2003 toolbars to ribbon 2010.

ssharkins
ssharkins

Disagree with the points all you like -- that's good stuff really. I encourage it. MS doesn't pay me squat. MS doesn't know who I am, doesn't care what I think, but I do appreciate your boost to my ego -- it's nice to think that someone thinks I'm important enough to impress MS.

SirWizard
SirWizard

I quote Duff Kurland, a founder of Autodesk who virtually singlehandedly wrote all the manuals through at least Release 10. The Release 12 AutoCAD Customization Manual presents his insights on page 98. Don't overuse icons attempting to encode abstract concepts into cryptic symbols. It doesn't work; ask any archaeologist.

kmkrreeves1
kmkrreeves1

In all honesty I'm not microsofts biggest fan either but the ribbon does take a while to get use to but once you do it gets convenient. and you said it (or at least implied) that you didn't like the space it took up double clicking the ribbon hides it giving you the full screen. I do understand that you had gotten use to the way you customized 2003 but its not that complicated to use the ribbon

zimmerwoman
zimmerwoman

You do have a way with words, Mr. Wizard. I'll stay tuned in to you.

kmkrreeves1
kmkrreeves1

I still can't find the green dots but other people have mentioned them to so I guess your not crazy. And I don't understand what more you could want besides a printer for the print button, but anyway continue to hate it I'm done.

zimmerwoman
zimmerwoman

the toolbar is customizable TO A POINT. There are many commands that use the same icon and where you could paint them differntly in Office 2003, in 2007 and 2010, what they give is what you get. Nothing more, nothing less. I am with Sir Wizard on this one.

SirWizard
SirWizard

Yes, I realize that I can place commands onto the less-slow access toolbar, but I cannot edit the graphics on its buttons, so it doesn't fit my definition of a customizable interface. How does one logically arrange by function even a few dozen identical green dots? I don't think I can extend that toolbar onto multiple lines or turn off a particular portion that I might only use occasionally.

SirWizard
SirWizard

It's not so much an issue of locating commands, though everything is designed to fry the carpal tunnel in my wrist from the incessant multiple clicks required to perform nearly any command in Office 2007/2010. My job involves using Word all day long, peppered with Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint. At home it's about even between Word and Excel. All are Office 2003 except Outlook 2007 at work, with which I'm stuck for company standardization. So I've had plenty of opportunity to give it a chance. I've also supported other users stuck entirely in Office 2007/2010. I actually know where to find some of the absurdly mis-located commands that were obvious to find within a logically arranged text-based menu structure. And I've fixed their documents when the functionality they need no longer exists anywhere within the ribbon interface or is specifically hindered by it. It's like losing a hand and being told to get used to a new shiny chromed iron hook instead. And I can put it in my pocket if I think it gets in the way of useful hand-work. That last sentence refers to your notion that hiding the GUI somehow makes the application easier to use. True, it takes less screen real estate while it's not there, but it's also unavailable while it's not there. I use my GUI constantly. Perhaps removing the GUI entirely is a solution for those who just type trivial unformatted missives that might as well be in Notepad. I'm constantly doing all of the following: edit dozens of styles, paste unformatted text, swap quoted text for italics, create cross-references, perform a word count, increase hanging indents to the next tab stop, condense text by a tenth of a point, print only the current page, reset numbered lists to start again, reset the view to many predefined arrangements and sizes, and much more. Of special importance is that I can perform each of these or each of a hundred other tasks with a single (that is, one!) mouse click. I simply click one of the several hundred icon on my toolbars, which use up only a third of the ribbon's screen real estate.

kmkrreeves1
kmkrreeves1

and you do realize the the quick access toolbar by the office button is customizable and can be placed above or below the ribbon

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