Windows optimize

Microsoft adamant we use the Ribbon interface in Vista and beyond

Greg Shultz analyzes the rumor that Microsoft is planning to add Ribbons to Windows Vista and the idea that Ribbons were supposed to have been there all along.

Rumors are running rampant on the Web that Microsoft is planning to ribbonize Windows Vista's built-in applications -- WordPad and Paint. According to the rumors, an interoperability pack for Windows Vista, supposedly called the Windows 7 Client Platform Update, will be released via Microsoft Downloads and Windows Update as a Recommended Update at the same time that Windows 7 ships in October. This optional update will transform the user interface in Vista's Paint and WordPad from the old drop-down menu system to the Ribbon UI found in Windows 7's Paint and WordPad.

If you have been using Windows for a while, you surely recognize this as an extremely odd play for Microsoft. When have they ever taken a new technology designed for new applications and put it in older applications? Unless, it was supposed to have been there all along? If Ribbons had appeared in WordPad and Paint before Office 2007, would the UI transition have been as tough?

In this edition of the Windows Vista and Windows 7 Report, I'll analyze the rumor that Microsoft is planning to add Ribbons to Windows Vista. As I do, I'll explore the idea that it could be possible that Ribbons were supposed to have been a part of the Windows operating system's built-in applications before they appeared in Office 2007.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a free TechRepublic download.

The cards are on the table

The Ribbon is the wave of the future, and Microsoft wants us to get used to it. As you can imagine, the goal of back-porting Ribbons into Windows Vista, even though it will be an optional update, is to essentially make it hard for you to avoid using the Ribbon. The reasoning behind this push is that Microsoft wants you to get used to the Ribbon as it will become more prevalent in upcoming Windows 7 applications.

In fact, according to an article in Computerworld, Mike Nash, a Corporate Vice President for Windows Product Management, has said that Microsoft is pushing for the Ribbon to be adopted in all Windows 7 applications from third-party developers as well as from Microsoft.

By putting the Ribbon in Windows 7's built-in applications and then back-porting the Ribbon into Windows Vista's built-in applications, Microsoft seems to be hoping that the more you use the Ribbon, the more comfortable with it you'll become, and thus, the easier it will be for you to move on to more advanced or more detailed Ribbons in major applications designed for Windows 7.

The Ribbon plan

Microsoft appears to have been planning to make the Ribbon a main navigational feature for all Microsoft applications, both stand-alone and those in the operating system, for some time now. For example, when Microsoft released a rebranded Windows Internet Explorer 7 in late 2006, the old drop-down menus were hidden and essentially replaced with a snazzy tabbed user interface that bears more than a passing resemblance to a Ribbon. With that in mind, take a look at Figure A. Of course, the tabbed user interface in Windows Internet Explorer 7 wasn't actually referred to as a Ribbon, but it was slowly nudging us in that direction.

Figure A

With the drop-down menus out of the focus and the new tabbed user interface, Internet Explorer 7 appears to be ribbonized.
Another example of a Ribbon-like interface can be found in Vista's Windows Explorer, shown in Figure B. Again, the old drop-down menus are hidden and replaced with a command bar that provides easy access to the most commonly needed commands or tasks. Windows Explorer's command bar is even contextual in nature -- the available commands change depending on the type of file that is selected.

Figure B

The command bar in Windows Explorer could also be considered a Ribbon.

When you think about these changes in Internet Explorer 7 and Windows Explorer, it becomes conceivable that Microsoft's real plan was for Ribbons to appear in Paint and WordPad all along. However, since the follow-up operating system fell so far behind schedule and went through so many feature reductions, Office 2007 came out with the Ribbon before it appeared in the operating system. As such, we have a situation where it is plausible that Microsoft had to inadvertently put the cart before the horse.

So, for the sake of argument, let's assume that Microsoft is trying to right that wrong and that the appearance of the Ribbons in Paint and WordPad was originally designed to follow up on the changes in Internet Explorer 7 and Windows Explorer and to help us make a more gradual transition to more detailed Ribbons in major applications such as Office 2007. In other words, since WordPad and Paint, as shown in Figure C, are such basic applications with a smaller set of features, learning to make the transition from menus to Ribbons should be easier.

Figure C

Since WordPad and Paint are such basic applications, learning to make the transition from menus to the Ribbons should be easier.

I'll be covering the Ribbons in Windows 7's WordPad and Paint in more detail in future articles.

What's your take?

Did you have a hard time getting used to the Ribbon-like interfaces in Internet Explorer 7 and Windows Explorer? Are you used to them now or do you still use the old menus? Are you willing to give Ribbons a chance in WordPad and Paint? As always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you.

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About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

218 comments
Dogcatcher
Dogcatcher

It may be that the best explanation for the move to the ribbon interface is that Microsoft is deliberately dumbing-down its products to make them more accessible to a less educated, less literate, less skilled, and maybe even less intelligent workforce. It is not clear why Microsoft would want to annoy a substantial segment of its installed base by removing the menu option.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

as to both the bickering over the value of the ribbon, and MS single-minded determination that it knows best is that individual learning styles and work styles are remarkably different. The ribbon is - and will stay - difficult for those whose learning and working styles are in discord with it. Psych 101 peeps, and MS.

michaelstn
michaelstn

the ribbon is a HORRIBLE waste of space. with the push for wide & short (ie, 16 x 9) aspect ratio screens, I HATE the ribbon wasting what little usable space I have left! m$soft websites, for example, use almost half the screen height for static "crap"....

n.champaigne
n.champaigne

More arbitrary changes? Ribbons are crap. Why is this happening? Developer jobs have been shipped into China and India! It is clear that the developers working for Microsoft are foreign to modern Europe and North America, and they think different. Perhaps they prefer pictographic language and are not comfortable with textual languages. Advice? Microsoft developers can take the ribbon concept and wrap it even tighter around their own necks. Perhaps Microsoft development should move back to North America. WHEN RADICAL OS CHANGES OCCURR CUSTOMERS LOSE TIME AND MONEY!

KenGross
KenGross

I have been using the ribbon interface in Office 2007 for over three years, and I like it a lot better than the older interface. Everyone I know who uses the ribbon interface seems to agree it increases their productivity. I think those who object to progress or Linux and Unix snobs should examine their personal motives for their negative views about this progressive change to Microsoft applications

n2iph
n2iph

Q1: Did you have a hard time getting used to the Ribbon-like interfaces in Internet Explorer 7 and Windows Explorer? A: Not a hard time but a dislike. My experience with the ribbon so far has been with Office 2007 and I do not like it at all. I do not like the way everything gets shuffled around. I dislike it so much I got an add-on to Office 2007 (Classic Menu from addintools.com) that restores (for the most part) the old menu bar we all grew up with since Windows 3x. I move between many computers at various places. It used to be that you instinctively knew where to find each feature or function when you used a MS application. But with the location of the buttons moving around on the screen it is difficult to remember, and I find the amount of movement at the top of the screen distracts me from my work in the app. Q2: Are you used to them now or do you still use the old menus? A: No, I have tried them but can not get used to them. I still prefer the old menu system. Q3: Are you willing to give Ribbons a chance in WordPad and Paint? A: I will never see the ribbons in WordPad or Paint as I never use those apps. Their feature set is so limited they are of little use to me.

firstaborean
firstaborean

So far, I've looked at the "ribbon" only in Office 2007, and I find it workable, but no advantage. Fortunately, there's an add-on that allows one to choose menus instead. The only thing that the "Ribbon" adds, as far as I can see it, is one more layer of cryptic images, whereas a good dose of English would make a major improvement. If my next version of Windows becomes too strange in its interface, I'll try to get back to something I already know how to use. Why get into another learning curve?

JimboInChi
JimboInChi

Once again. Microsoft dictates what we WILL do, not listening to what we WANT. Getting kind of sad.

Regulus
Regulus

This would appear to be a Microsoft attempt to make their products friendly to the non-tech user public, who may be their most important consumer. Much like the changes in Windows Explorer (not to be confused with Internet Explorer) in Vista & Windows 7 perhaps. Dealing with these new interfaces can be incredibly traumatic to an experienced IT guy. We'll just have to learn to start thinking like the general public.....:-((

wGrahamT
wGrahamT

As usual, Paul Thurrott has a nice overview of the Ribbon. One of the more interesting features he's highlighted for me is that you can minimize the Ribbon by double-clicking any tab, creating a minimalist interface. To access commands that are hidden when this happens, just click the tab once to temporarily show the hidden Ribbon. Although then you no longer have sideways scrolling through the Ribbon Tab sections with the mouse wheel. See here for explanations and screenshots... http://www.winsupersite.com/win7/ff_ribbon.asp The minimalist view looks both spartan and cool at the same time! And don't forget what I said in my previous post about using the Alt Key to get at advanced features in most Vista apps.

dcfryauff
dcfryauff

At work we use Office 2007 and I ABSOLUTELY HATE!!!! the new applications and especially the ribbons! What used to take me a couple clicks to do before with the drop downs now takes me many more clicks, (after I have figured where to find the command. Sounds like a really good reason not to switch to Windows 7 nor to allow upgrades to install automatically!

wGrahamT
wGrahamT

The whole point of the Ribbon interface is ease of learning - i.e. a UI concept of "discoverability". One of the key issues to solve was that many people were asking Microsoft for new functionality in each of the Office products that was already there; but was buried at the bottom of a hierarchy of Menu Bar, ..Menu Item, ....Dialogue Window, ......Tab click, ......(advanced feature) Button" click, ..........Dialogue Window, etc. Microsoft spent many hours in usability workshops with new and experienced Office users to design it and to decide which groupings of commands were the most logical for the most used functionality. And then to test them in usability workshops with test subject groups of different skill levels. One of the first lessons I was taught in user interface design was that even before we had windowing interfaces or personal computers there was a lot of research about graphical user interfaces, primarily for RADAR and aircraft flight paths, etc. The main conclusion of the research was that it didn't matter how "untidy" and complicated the interface and the way it interpreted or modelled reality was - once trained the operator was comfortable and efficient. The difficulty was the time spent on the learning curve. Rationalising and making the interface more "logical" could have dramatic effects on the time to learn it. But it made little or no difference to the comfort or efficiency of the operator - once trained. However, the operator who was skilled in the old interface, having developed a mental map of the way it was "supposed" to work - well they would just hate it, and have difficulty unlearning and re-learning the new mental map required. Office has evolved with all sorts of short cuts and customisability so that experienced and knowledgeable users can create their own mental map of what seems logical to them. Having worked with the individual products since I first learnt MS PowerPoint version 2 on a Mac in 1989 and then with Windows 3.1 and later came the huge stack of floppy disks (I think I recall 35 floppies, with different install programs for each product) that formed a bundle of products called Office 4.0. I have worked with every version of Office since, frequently moving between computers, some of which I controlled and some of which were my clients, so I decided early on not to customise the menus, but that was a personal choice. I am currently using Office 2007 on my home office desktop with Vista Home Premium as well as Office 2003 on my ancient Tablet PC with Windows 7 RC (but that's another story!). The concept of "discoverability" was always a major aim of GUI windowing interfaces; which kind of got lost in the complexity of products like Office - even highly experienced users were asking Microsoft for features that they already had ... if they could find them. For advanced users there are shortcuts in the new Vista and Office interfaces. There are some simple key "discoverability" concepts to aid experienced users to be more in control. For example:- * Use of the Alt Key - in many Vista interfaces pressing the Alt Key shows the advanced interface, and quite often this is how you get the Menu Bar with familiar drop-down menus like "File; Edit; View; Tools; Help" and these have the relevant "Alt +letter" key combination for quick keyboard access. First seen in Office 2007, the Ribbon changes things; and there are a number of new discoverability features to learn:- * To find some of the commands like "Print", you need to understand that the coloured circle is a clickable part of the interface to show a menu of actions - similar to the Start Button, which is now a circular graphic of the Windows Logo. * To see different parts of the Ribbon you can click on the Tabs - but this is slower than the alternative, which is to place the Mouse Pointer over the Ribbon and scroll the Ribbon using the Mouse Scroll Wheel. This quickly feels natural and you can see that it will work well with a touch screen interface - just like scrolling sideways through your Albums of Music or Photos on your mobile phone! * To get faster access without moving the mouse, then press the Alt Key and ToolTips appear over the Tab Buttons - these are letters which can be pressed to move to the relevant Ribbon section just as clicking on the Tab Buttons would. This is the same as pressing the "Alt +letter" key combination. When you get to the relevant Ribbon all of the command Buttons also show ToolTips for letters you can press to action the command. These shortcuts can go many levels deep for example; Alt N Z P takes you to the Insert Pages options where you can press V NP or B. * These shortcut key sequences should be the same as in Office 2003 - these pages show examples http://news.office-watch.com/t/n.aspx?articleid=550&zoneid=8 http://news.office-watch.com/t/n.aspx?a=662 So all of the old menu shortcuts work the same, even if the dialogues have changed or been rationalised elsewhere. * Another clarification is here https://help.we.mtu.edu/index.php/Office_2007_Keyboard_Shortcuts_Tutorial * Nice tutorial here http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2009/06/making-the-most-of-the-microsoft-office-2007-ribbon/ * And of course Google has scanned a book http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Hwwj-k3aXEcC&pg=RA1-PA415&lpg=RA1-PA415&dq=office+2007+ribbon+ALT+key&source=bl&ots=RvJkaVdAbO&sig=pg9ziohkZkz1ZEbSIUYMn-6pXoY&hl=en&ei=A5CXSoDNIpnSjAeWl7W0BQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=9#v=onepage&q=office%202007%20ribbon%20ALT%20key&f=false You can also turn the ribbon off if you wish. Apart from standardising on the new look and feel, one of the points behind fitting a Ribbon to Paint and WordPad might also have been just to demonstrate that it can be done. Since the introduction of Windows 95 (and it's published UI standards) and Office 95 many applications have standardised on the same sequence of Menus on the Toolbar and the same Icons for commands like Open, Print, Save etc.. A reason for this is that it makes them an easier to learn application because an Office user can just add any of the added features of the new product into their mental map of how to drive an application, and the rest is the same or similar and therefore easy to drive. I know that when I was responsible for running a commercial development with a GUI back when Windows 95 was being BETA tested, I certainly made every effort to use Windows 95 and Office 95 icons and menu structures wherever it made sense. We'd better all get used to the Ribbon interface, it's part of the standard toolkit for developers, and I can see that as we move forward with touch interfaces it is going to be the way all applications will probably be driven towards. As noted elsewhere the Ribbon Interface isn't an original Microsoft idea, like many of their GUI standards they are just following best practice even if it upsets existing users, they have "improved" the UI many times in the past as their research on usability has shown easier ways to use the interfaces on the PC. Also noted elsewhere is that Mono project and Open Office are following this trend and is going to offer a Ribbon interface too. See:- http://digg.com/linux_unix/Mono_developer_brings_the_Ribbon_interface_as_in_Office_2007_to_Linux http://stevewiilliams.wordpress.com/2009/08/06/openoffice/ http://www.geek.com/articles/news/openoffice-experiments-with-a-ribbon-interface-20090812/ http://wiki.services.openoffice.org/wiki/Renaissance:Prototyping Finally, if you want to customise the Office 2007 then a developer can do so - see this tutorial webcast from December 2006 http://whitepapers.zdnet.com/abstract.aspx?docid=282965 And to add Ribbon interface to your own application, then here's some documentation http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd371193(VS.85).aspx

Allan.F.Wall
Allan.F.Wall

Ribbons waste screen real estate and menus normally have keyboard shortcuts already assigned which is far quicker than having to move the mouse (especially when using voice control).

piet
piet

Who cares what they do with Wordpad and Paint? Does anybody use these fossilised bits of garbage? Did anybody ever use them?

SubgeniusD
SubgeniusD

How does one subscribe to a comment thread (receive new post alerts) without necessarily adding a comment? I do participate when I have something to add but sometimes would like to just follow interesting threads for the useful info they often provide.

Lazarus439
Lazarus439

As of about 52 posts, there have been links to two "menu restorer". Thanks for that! The programs mentioned both seem to get the same job done, but one is $29.99 a copy (albeit with volume discounts); the other is about $14 plus about $1 per user. Does anyone know of any comparative reviews of this type of product that would help one select one over another or address why there' such a disparity in price? Thanks!

Bruce Epper
Bruce Epper

You need to rememder that MS does not design their interfaces for power users. Instead, they are trying to put as much eye-candy on the screen as possible in order to attract those who care more about how something looks than how it performs.

Dogcatcher
Dogcatcher

Microsoft's love for its ribbon interface is peculiar. Business-oriented programs, such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are generically referred to as "productivity applications". The title is apt because they help employees get more done in less time. It therefore seems peculiar to make the programs less useful by forcing all users to cope with an interface that diminishes the productivity of many. The ribbon interface also wastes a lot of screen real estate. If Microsoft's engineers truly believe the ribbon interface is superior, well then go ahead and offer it, but let the user select which interface he/she wants to use to get the work done. Microsft has some pretty bright people on its staff, so maybe it is correct as to what is the superior interface. But we know that even the best and brightest can be wrong, sometimes very wrong. Surely the lack of enthusiasm for Vista, Office 2007, and IE8 has some Microsoft program managers questioning their assumptions as to what the world wants. The computing world of 2009 is vastly different from what it was even ten years ago. The huge installed base brings with it an intertia that resists any change not clearly beneficial.

john.ballantyne
john.ballantyne

Microsux has demonstrated once again that they have no regard for the users who have invested time and effort in learning the older products. The ribbon sucks. It provides nothing really new. It only rearranges. Once again they have "stirred the pot" on their user interface. Everything is in a new location. It's as if someone came into your office, and rearranged everything - the furniture, the books on your bookshelf, and they did it without your consent or without consulting with you about it. What's more, they do it every few years, and will do it again. There is little incentive for learning their "new way" when you know they are not committed to keeping the new way once an even newer way occurs to them. I used to like Word, and have only gradually come to accept Excel. Now I am looking for something else.

TonytheTiger
TonytheTiger

that the tail is wagging the dog? Is this a consumer-driven society or isn't it? We need to start asserting ourselves.

Dogcatcher
Dogcatcher

If the ribbon interface works well for you, great. But please keep the discussion courteous and do not impugn the motives of those who do not like the ribbon. As with the Mac vs PC, and Linux vs Windows debates, the other fellow is not wrong, nor does he/she have mental problems, merely because of a preference that differs from yours.

johndoe4024
johndoe4024

Who must not know many folks. "Everyone I know who uses the ribbon interface seems to agree it increases their productivity." If one defines productivity as being able to see lots of pretty colors maybe. Most folks define it by how many steps it takes to accomplish a task. With this definition, the Ribbon loses!

KenGross
KenGross

Every business has the right to alter their products. Why should your software vendor be different. Why not just migrate to Open Office if you don't like it? In any case, stop whining.

PoppaTab
PoppaTab

A trend just like the commercials that tell the commom folk to ask their doctor for the newest medications. How many staffers have you heard asking for the latest and greatest? MS seems to have taken that bull by it's horns.

lschwang
lschwang

I'm a software trainer at my company. We roled out Office 07 in Feb. Our users still hate the Ribbon. It's not that they can't learn it, it's that it takes many more clicks for them to get where they're going. I'm in the process of researching third party programs that make the old pulldown menus avaialble. If more companies do that, MS won't have gained anything. (I'll also just say here that the compatibility mode is horrendous and MUST be fixed. That can't happen soon enough.)

Peter Sanders
Peter Sanders

Hi Any chance of one or two examples of these many more clicks? I have found the ribbon quite good. Peter

rocktrng
rocktrng

I also hate the ribbon. It may have been intuitive to some developer ... but I find it not just counter-intuitive, but couter-productive as well. Where I used to be able to use a keyboard shortcut ... or know exactly which menu to use to access what I wanted to do ... now I have to search through all the ribbons to finally find what I want. If they're insistent on ribbons, they should at least give us an option to turn on menus.

PoppaTab
PoppaTab

Let's not forget we are catering to the newest class of discovery which is the newest users fresh out of their school of choice. I personally don't want to see a young graduate who is a new member of a team that refers to Office 2003. Mostly because that is not the newest tools offered for learning. It would be terribly inept for an IT staff to not know anything of the past and equally inept to not have learned the newest tech out there. Most staffing situations comprise "old salts" and "kids" working together. We would have a terrible environment if our teams could not teach the team members how to cope with old and new.

tnahas
tnahas

I just wanted to say thanks for this fantastic and informative post!

LouCed
LouCed

great post, an article in itself. Will send to many people, espicially for the links.

PoppaTab
PoppaTab

An owner of the company will only use word because it is supplied by MS on a computer. He transfers his thoughts to that and then sends it to be prettied up by assistants. He does not want to go through any of that bothersome training or adopt any of the new "crap" being pushed out. I can still read it, but the technology there seems to be lagging. Some have said we would all be using sandscrpit and abbacus if he had his way. How does this apply to the thread? Old ways work too, of course. Old ways sometimes leave things lacking. The ribbon can be done away with and you can retain all the best loved "old ways". Sprint managed to use the 286 computer to manage inventory and business at that time; so did everyone else. Innovation of productivity has led us to myriad of solutions without changing MS very much. Even propritary solutions that give you exactly what a particular user needs had and has it's day at the expense of retraining teams. The ribbon is a shot at the one size fits all theme in office productivity. Of course it will not fit every user's needs or wants. How could it possibly do that? We all want something that just works and that is not going to be what MS and every other for profit enterprize will offer; there is not enough ROI for that. I believe the ribbon is not such a good concept for customized operation. Deploy what you make in your work environment to get the job done. Let your individuals play with latest and greatest applications that fit most needs in the non-professional environment. How often do you hear that any particular change will render a "professional" looking end product?

LouCed
LouCed

Paint - About a billion times a day when I was a helpdesk tech. Still use it for quick image edits.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

At the bottom of the post, on the line under the member information, look for the "Subscribe to this Thread" link at the right. It's just under the Previous/Next links and to the right of the "Print/View all posts" link.

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

Ubitmenu is free for personal use (and works with the upcoming Office 2010 according to the web site). I've searched for others (though not recently) and haven't seen a completely free one.

LouCed
LouCed

remember, these are also the "pretty bright people on its staff" that gave us the talking paperclip, and Bob.

jeremypwatson
jeremypwatson

I have been using Office 2007 for two years and still struggle with that wretched ribbon. It's far too slow and it is very hard to refind some items that only get use occasionaly. The other day I had to work in an Office 2003 machine, and oh what bliss and speed and I hadn't even edited the toolbars the way I want them.

johndoe4024
johndoe4024

'The huge installed base brings with it an inertia that resists any change not clearly beneficial.' Inertia, unfortunately, is only of use until MS suspends support and forces corporations to move to the next round.

Computer Dave
Computer Dave

It seems pretty simple to me: don't buy Office '07. We've got about 50 seats here, all using Office '03 in Win XP. Come to think of it, Office and IE are about the only MS apps we use. Maybe in another few years we'll be like those hold-out companies who are today still using Novell, WordPerfect, and GroupWise. :D ~Dave

QA_In_Vegas
QA_In_Vegas

Just because someone LIKES something that's new, doesn't make them a shill or someone with a small circle of friends. I've gotten used to it (despite my initial trepidation) and I don't know that its increased my productivity, but I adapted to it and I do feel its often a bit easier to access than drop downs or even keyboard shortcuts. What would REALLY make it "sing" would be being able to customize it like we could icons of past versions. I don't want to customize the quick access toolbar, its just too small! TINY icons! Let me customize the ribbon and now we're talkin'. But back to the initial reason for my post...why is there this pseudo-snobbery. Tech is about new things and moving forward. If the ribbon TRULY is such a bad idea, work with it, figure out why, let's let MS know in productive channels, create some add-ons to it that DO make it work for you, and stop all the snotty, snobby whining! It got old fast.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

The ribbon is a major change to the user interface. To me it's the equivalent of changing the relative positions of steering wheel, gas, and brake. {GRATUITOUS INSULT} (I would have added clutch, but if you're like the vast majority of American drivers, you have no idea what to do with that third pedal.) {/GRATUITOUS INSULT}

wGrahamT
wGrahamT

If you've learnt the keyboard shortcuts in Word 2003, then just use them in Office 2007 as before. One of my favourite ones - which I learnt in 1995 with Word 6.0 is the sequence which inserts a new page break Alt+i B Return Still works perfectly! And there are even more you can learn in Office 2007.

ichinutz
ichinutz

I hate the ribbon and won't use it because it takes away a lot of the easy direct access I am used to. Once again MS are intoducing something I don't want or need!!!!!

wGrahamT
wGrahamT

Thanks LouCed. I've also posted a link to Paul Thurrot?.s excellent article on the Ribbon and the Office Fluent UI http://www.winsupersite.com/win7/ff_ribbon.asp - and personally the minimalist view without the Ribbon was a nice surprise for me. I have implemented user interfaces from the days when it was question and answer on a telex/typewriter; through early Visual Display Units (so-called "green screens" or CUI "Character-based User Interfaces"); through Windowing systems like Gem and X-Windows where you rolled you own and made your own standard widgets yourself; through to Windows 95. And one key thing I learnt was that if the user had never had an interface to his data or system before, they thought that whatever you did was wonderful. However if you were implementing changes to the layout of an interface they had already learned - even changing some fields from bold text to plain text - they would reject it on first sight... simply because it was different... they would automatically say it was worse and harder to use than the previous version - you had to patiently persuade them to "try it for a couple of days", and then "magically" they did come to appreciate it... until next time you wanted to implement a change to the layout! So I do understand why people who have invested time and effort in learning short-cuts or customising the menus and toolbars get upset. However for the non-expert user, which is probably most users of Office and certainly any new customers, then the Ribbon allows them to access more of the product's power than they would have been able to stumble across with the previous menu interfaces. It will also support touch screens better. Also having used all versions of Office since version 4.0 I have seen the office command structure change before, always leading to bad words under my breath and to a new earning curve. I also used Word Processor software before there were GUI versions; for example WordPerfect on VMS with green screen character terminals and an extended ADSII keyboard.... those were the days when for any powerful package like a Word Processor you would be supplied with a cardboard or plastic overlay for the keyboard and function keys so that the learner could access the commands without leafing through the user guide booklet. For some manufacturer?s products in the early days of UNIX office systems, there were even specialised keyboards with the shortcuts added to the relevant key tops. If you move between machines and use other people's PCs, then it's a BAD IDEA to customise the menus, since you will forget where everything is on a default set up. It's a tiny bit like only driving a car with an automatic gearbox, and then going back to a gearstick... can be frustrating to start. I understand that if you sit down at only one machine day in day out and have a task to do which requires you to work as fast as you can, yet turn out work using all of the power of the Word Processor or Spreadsheet. Then customising your tools is a GOOD IDEA. It's just going to be frustrating if you want to borrow somebody else?s toolset because it won't work the same way - especially if they?ve customised theirs as well! It's quite amazing that the extent of the customisation in Office that Microsoft created for you allows you to do the equivalent of taking your automobile, moving your steering wheel to the other side and putting the accelerator to the left of the brake pedal (just like it was in some early automobiles before standardisation). You wouldn't be able to let anyone else use it until they'd learnt how and had hours of practice. A couple of reason that Microsoft created all of the customisation features in Office are that firstly it allows you to embed interfaces to third-party or in-house developed macros and programs like Avery Labels = it makes the Office system programmable. And secondly it allows the user to "dig up" the buried features that they want to use most and put them in plain sight "above the ground" so to speak. The trouble with this is that "one man's meat is another man's poison" so what you like best, somebody else will hate. This is why Microsoft spends tens of thousands of hours in laboratory conditions doing usability testing with people with different levels of expertise. And have done so for many software releases. Office 97 was a blockbuster release and it introduced hierarchical menus and the ultra-customisable interface and started to become hard to learn because of its complexity - it was accused of bloat. The Office project's blog discussed how hard it was to come up with the prototypes for Office 2007 Ribbon, and interfaces. There?s there's a good presentation of the Story of the Ribbon here http://blogs.msdn.com/jensenh/archive/2008/03/12/the-story-of-the-ribbon.aspx Also the Office Teams reasoning for why the Office 2007 interface is the way it is - is here... http://blogs.msdn.com/jensenh/archive/tags/Why+the+New+UI_3F00_/default.aspx ... there's 8 parts to this - Part 2 is interesting if you have forgotten just what the Office Interface used to look like in previous version releases ? all the way back to Word 1.0 for Windows in 1989.

SubgeniusD
SubgeniusD

That was too obvious I guess - doh!

Lazarus439
Lazarus439

The commercial pricing is awfully good, too: about $13-$14 for the base license plus about $1 per user. (They price in Euros, so it depends on the exchange rate). There's another product, AddInMenu, that is way more expensive - I just can't figure out why one is so cheap/one is so expensive. This sort of thing always makes me wonder what I'm overlooking!

kmdennis
kmdennis

Here you are another user who finds that office2003 works better for you than that bulky ribbon and Office engine sucking up memory! This gbently guy seems so arrogant! I found these statements in some of his posts and commented: >>Try putting 20 people who have never used a PC in front of Excel 2003 and Excel 2007

shryko
shryko

I personally abhor the ribbon interface's mandatory nature, as I use the customized toolbars... and even if they left only an option to get the old interface, I'd be happy... so.. I'm just not buying *any* microsoft stuff. If we all vote with our wallets, they'll listen or else they'll go bankrupt...

BlueCollarCritic
BlueCollarCritic

"..Tech is about new things and moving forward. If the ribbon TRULY is such a bad idea, work with it, figure out why, let's let MS know in productive channels, create some add-ons to it that DO make it work for you, and stop all the snotty, snobby whining! It got old fast. " ~ qa_in_Vegas Just out of curiosity, did you take this same approach with VISTA, embracing it as the next dominant Windows OS, countering any netagive Vsiat posts or did you avoid/skip Vista for the same reason as many and are just being hippocritical with the whole moving forward/on comment? I also have to say that you must not have read all of the posts because in more then just a few there references to 3rd party addons that let one get rid of the ribbon in favor of the old style interface. The posts against the Ribbon are more about how its been pushed onto everyone with a screw you if you don;t like it attitude. Just because there is a sizeable group of users who like the Ribbon (unlike those who liked Vista) that doesn't mean that by default it is better. If the small number of pro-Vista users had possted in mass to the forums and acted like thr Pro-Ribbon group has towards those who are not in favor of the neext gen product, would that then change Vista from being junk to being treasure simply by the preception that more like it then actually do?

colin.hempsey
colin.hempsey

True that the Edsel did that, it was Fords biggest failure too. It also had self adjusting brakes and automatic lubrication. The problem wasn't that it didn't work but that the market was too set in their ways. Funny that these Edsel only features are now what you would expect to see on sports cars and luxury cars these days.

pseudopygrapha
pseudopygrapha

Does anyone remember when Ford introduced the Edsel? They put a push-button automatic transmission interface in the center of the steering column - where most drivers expected to find the horn. Fortunately, Ford did not have a virtual monopoly in the automobile market. The Edsel was Ford's biggest failure. In the current computer market, most users have limited or no choices. The software decisions have been made by others. Those others are heavily influenced by Micro$oft.

dogknees
dogknees

I was responding to a statement that clearly stated that they believe the ribbon to be less efficient. To me that has nothing to do with prior usage and can only be determined by the sort of testing I described. We all "prefer" the things we know. All that means is that we have to be aware of our own preferences and make a concerted effort to get past them. That's all I'm trying to get across here. It is my opinion that "who moved my cheese" is a lame excuse for not learning a now product. When, almost without fail, after some usage, the new method of working will be more efficient. Most people agree in hindsight that this is true. Look at those who hated XP at launch and now say they'll never give it up. It's the classic case. What I'd like people to do is bypass the "it's new, I don't like it" stage and get to the stage of having thoroughly learned the new way of working before they comment. Rather than cluttering up forums with the same rubbish every time something new comes along. It's boring and pointless.

LouCed
LouCed

Major corps keep buying, forcing the rest to upgrade. V2003 not available for purchase for new installs. Businesses that have actual requirements of NO open source software to be used. Not a lot of options.

john3347
john3347

Product manufacturers and service providers do not HEAR our voices, they only FEEL their own pocketbooks. If we don't like a product, don't buy it!