Microsoft to change the Ribbon in Office 2007

by Volker Weber

CRN reports:

When Microsoft unveils an update to the beta of its Office 2007 later this summer, it will modify parts of the user interface that have attracted criticism, the product's UI lead program manager said this week.

The Ribbon, a new top-of-the-window feature in most of the suite's applications -- including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint -- takes up too much space, say many beta users and reviewers . In response, the next Office 2007 update, a so-called Technical Refresh (TR), will include changes to the Ribbon.

I think the Ribbon is one of the most interesting updates to the user interface of feature-rich applications. I hope that Microsoft is able to establish a new reference model here.

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BTW: There is one thing I find highly amusing. The 3.5" floppy disk has established itself as the icon for "save document", although modern computers no longer even have a floppy drive.


Shortcut keystrokes displaying when you press the alt key, where have we seen that before?

I personally believe the ribbon will be a big step forward, sure it isn't the first to do it, it is very similar to the eSuite menus which had basically the same feature but at the bottom of the screen. It's also very like the Lotus properties box, but fixed in location, in that's it's dynamic and changes based upon what you're doing and working with etc. It's also live just as the properties box is, this has huge beenfits for users learning new features. A great example of this was the balanced column option in Word Pro, it existed for years in Ami Pro, but end users never understood what it did. When the property box arrived, they clicked it and immediately saw what it did. People will have similar experiences with the ribbon I believe.

Carl Tyler, 2006-07-27

Having used the ribbon since I installed the Office 2007 beta... I have to admit that I have mixed feeling about it. I liked that they were trying to improve the UI.. but I wasn't so sure that the ribbon (in it's current implementation) was the way to go. For new Office users, it may work fine, but I constantly found myself hunting down a given menu option that's location was more apparent in previous releases.

My recommendation would be, if I had their ear, that they look more to something in the middle, something between the current ribbon and the old menu system.

Ideally, you'd want to have a "show me the old 'menu' style" option - which would promote faster adoption and allow people to more easily move to a new UI... but then again how many people are going to proactively turn the new, often confusing, UI on if they're getting by with their older-yet-more-favored UI.

Hell, how many of us still live in their Workspace?

Chris Toohey, 2006-07-28

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