ZDnet: Microsoft winds back Office ribbon


ZDnet today published an article regarding Beta tester feedback on the Microsoft Office 2007 UI. This immediately has been picked up by bloggers and other publishers (ofcouse). The whole story is taking things a bit out of context to say the least.

… Microsoft has modified its new interface for Office 2007 after complaints from beta testers that the ‘ribbon’ system took up too much space on screen.

Office 2007 has ditched the traditional drop-down menu approach of most Windows applications in favour of the ribbon, which displays functions in new categories such as Home, Insert and Mailing in a strip across the top of the screen.

Microsoft says the new interface makes it easier for users to access the wide range of features in applications such as Word, Excel and Access.

However, in the next technical refresh of the Office 2007 beta, users can set the ribbon to automatically minimise whenever it is not being used, effectively making the ribbon headings look like traditional menus. (Windows has long offered a similar auto-hide option for the taskbar.)

Microsoft Australia technical specialist John Hodgson said the change came about after complaints from some customers. “One of the feedbacks we got is that it takes up too much room,” he said during a presentation at Tech.Ed 06 in Sydney.

Despite the change, Microsoft remains committed to using the ribbon interface, although it isn’t included in all Office components. Visio, for example, has no ribbon options at all, and Outlook does not use the ribbon in all contexts. …

First of all feedback is great and this is why products are releaed in (public) beta’s and previews. However I do think that with such changes made to the UI as Microsoft has in the new Office it does take some getting used to; at least more than an hour of “let’s give it a try”.

Talking from personal experience I can say that after a couple of hours with the new Office you do get used to the menu providing you acurate and contextual / relevant menu choices depending the item you are creating / editing and honoustly I am not thinking of the “old” UI anymore as something I greatly miss. I am working now with Office 2007 since November of last year and have had my ups and downs but boy is this an overall improvement.

Already back in April, my colleahue Jensen Harris gave a complete run down of the size of the Ribbon in the new UI and how it compares to other versions of Office :

Jensen Harris : The Size Of Things