back to article Windows 8 ribbon entangles Microsoft

Microsoft is tangled up in ribbons again. This time its plan to expand the Office 2007 look-and-feel in Windows 8 is putting its Windows group president on the defensive. The company has confirmed reports dating from earlier this year that it is revamping the Explorer interface in Windows 8 to feature a ribbon UI. Only, as …


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  1. Piro Silver badge

    Hold on with the slagging off

    Because I actually like what I see so far. Explorer looks fat, but you could always hide the ribbon until you hit alt, presumably.

    The quick-access toolbar looks great, and since it assigns a keybind to each item, explorer has never been better for power users, by the looks of it.

    1. smalga

      bl00dy hell..

      I didn't realise the File menu was still there in Windows 7 until you mentioned pressing alt! (Not that noticed it was missing..)

      But I do detest the ribbon in Office - if you could choose between ribbon and File menu, I would definitely choose the latter..

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        But that's just it..

        You can go for the File menu look!

        As Piro mentioned; once you hide the ribbon you'll be left with a regular pulldown "menu look" and no icons visible, just as if you we're looking at a pulldown menu. The main difference will be when pressing a keyboard combo: instead of a pulldown menu a section with icons will be visible. And once you're done they'll disappear again.

        I don't see the problem here to be honest. Especially since we should never forget who the main target is here: the end users and not so much the 'power users'.

        Personally I think this may very well open up the Explorer for a whole larger share of people.

      2. sab0tage

        What's wrong with the ribbon?

        Don't people like easy to find, logically organised menus these days? It took me 5 minutes to figure out (and love) the Ribbon, at long last I could forget having to move my mouse like an epileptic through a maze of menu trees.

        I do believe that anyone who doesn't think the Ribbon is easier to use has some sort of brain damage and probably can't tie their own shoe laces.

        1. TheItCat

          Re: "Don't people like easy to find, logically organised menus these days?"

          Yes, we do. Why else would we hate the ribbon so much?

          Where's the facepalm icon?

        2. Brendan Sullivan

          @sab0tage Re: What's wrong with the ribbon?

          The question is what constitutes a "logically organized" menu. For people who have been using Windows for close to 20 years the File menu is fairly logical (File operations under 'File", help items under 'Help', etc) while the Ribbon interface rearranges everything into a more contextual or task specific menu system which requires people to cast aside years or decades of experience and learn the menu structure from scratch (which becomes even more difficult when the Ribbon becomes 'adaptive' and starts arranging itself based on your interactions with it). Also consider that the File Menu interface is either shared with or similar to the menu interface used by many other OS interfaces (I have seen versions of AT&T Unix from the early 80's with similarly structured UIs); for people who have to move between multiple OSs and interfaces (I generally deal with at least 5 different OS/Windowing systems in a normal day) having at least some similarity between them is extremely important.

          If a ribbon interface is your first UI experience then you might well find it easy to pick up but for people with 10, 20 or even 30 years of GUI use behind them it is extremely disruptive.

    2. Ammaross Danan

      Ribbons and statistics

      Since the "most used" commands are likely Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V and the Delete key, I'm sure that will skew the weights for how often New Folder is selected from the context menu or Send To -> USB drive. I know that I WON'T use a fancy button on a ribbon for cut and paste, just because it's the "most used" commands or hotkeys. Newbies might love the visible button, and I know it will be a great feature to add to (listen Microsoft!) the touch GUI (yes, imagine that: a GUI designed for touch, as opposed to the "regular" GUI for keyboard+mouse). But we know MS doesn't listen to anything but TechNet subscribers....

  2. Neil 23


    Hopefully, someone will do what they did for Office and develop a ribbon add-on that emulates the menu structure, so we can go back to doing things the easy way.

    1. tempemeaty

      Perhaps an evern better solution.... not to keep propping up the beast but to go with the Open Source solutions once and for all?

      1. chr0m4t1c


        If Vista didn't drive users away completely, I doubt a slightly annoying ribbon will.

      2. Stevie


        Naw, not to judge by my OpenOffice experience. The product is much better than it was three years ago (which to be honest wasn't saying much for them of us wot know the difference between an office suite and a word processor/basic spreadsheet lashup) but it still has odd problems.

        I'm currently developing a large workbook app in OOCalc and have come across all of the following: Arbitrary and undocumented nesting issues with bracketed function calls (the ones that take arguments) requiring inelegant and otherwise unnecessary "staging" of parts of a nested function in another cell, memory management issues requiring the book be closed and reopened to ensure proper recalculation, slow process when certain on-disk size is reached (512 K seems to be the current magic number) and a macro recorder that destabilizes the whole affair by using it.

        Also: Workbook Macros need to be invokable by hotkeys to be really useful, but that feature is yet to be added to OpenOfficeCalc.

        That said, it is a good little product for those that don't need an Office Suite with legs, and orders of magnitude better than it was three years ago.

        And to get back on topic: BOOHISS to the ribbon. A less intuitive interface I have yet to meet.

  3. Andrew Baines Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    I like the ribbon

    There - I've said it. Anyway, anything is better than the 'press the alt-key to see options appear' that we have in IE now.

    1. The BigYin

      Calling all Regitards


    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up


      The ribbon is almost entirely responsible for getting me onto MS Office, after years of preferring OpenOffice.

      1. gerryg

        Are you real?

        I don't know how much you paid for MS Office, however, I'm curious to know how a ribbon adds so much value to a product that you're prepared to pay for it over an (apparentty) otherwise adequate office suite

        And of course if you were _really_ troling you would have said something like "LibreOffice worth what you pay for it" and lobbed in something about freetards

        So I do believe you, honestly, do tell

        1. Andrew Baines Silver badge

          Yes, I'm, real!

          I get Office as part of my Action Pack subscription, along with SBS & Visual Studio - bargain.

          If someone could come up with a decent alternative to all the software MS give me for £300 pa, I'd consider switching, but right now, it looks a bargain.

          1. Robert E A Harvey

            funny sort of bargain

            You pay £300 a year to rent software and consider it a bargain?

            Can I interest you in this bottle of universal medicine for only 975 pounds? It even tastes like lemonade.

        2. ThomH


          I prefer Office to OpenOffice/LibreOffice because the ribbon allows me to navigate by shape. The traditional approach to toolbars long ago became a large grid of tiny icons that you have to inspect one by one. The pull-down-but-with-graphics approach of the Ribbon is much easier because the different sizing and positioning of buttons lets you approach the problem spatially, so that much more of it is innate rather than conscious.

          In versions of Office long gone, I'd spent about 20 minutes after install just disabling toolbars and pointless toolbar icons to get to a state where navigation wasn't a chore. The old pull downs that hide unused features are actually a problem rather than a solution since every time you use one of the features you otherwise ignore for maybe 95% of the time the positioning of items is changed. So your navigation is off again.

          And the standard rules of requiring user customisation apply: 90% aren't going to bother, you're going to be hampered every time you use anybody else's machine and you're going to spend a ridiculous amount of time syncing your various machines.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        One fewer user to support in OpenOffice/LibreOffice...

  4. <user />
    Thumb Up


    The Ribbon isn't THAT bad, lets be fair, once you get used to it. We are just so used to menus it makes it a little bit difficult to adapt.

    I still struggle to find things in Office Ribbon despite having used Office 2007 + since release but I am not sure I would go back to the old menu system.

    1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

      You're right

      The ribbon isn't all that bad......

      If you have a big monitor, though shit if you are using the on-call laptop with the 14" screen

      If you want to use the options that MicroShit have decided you are going to use, though shit if you want to customise the ribbon the way you could the old tool bars.

      Just to keep you guessing, "insert table" function is on the "insert" button/tab, however the "table properties" dialog is on the "layout" button/tab, and the formatting of tables (border, fill etc) are on the "Design" button/tab.

      It's all over the place, with the old tool bars all the formatting options were on the formatting menu and all the table options were on the table menu.

      The ribbon isn't all that bad...... It's total shit.

      Still when you are devoid of ideas, there’s nothing like f**king up the interface to pretend you’ve made changes.

      Fail, MicroShits,1, massive

    2. veti Silver badge

      Let's be fair?

      The ribbon *is* THAT bad, however bad THAT is.

      Quick: if you have a Word .docx file with figures stored in linked files, how do you get them saved in the .docx itself so that someone else can open it and see them? Which ribbon is that command on? (In case you don't have Word open right now, the ribbon names are:

      Home / Insert / Page Layout / References / Mailings / Review / View )

      If you answered any of the above, you're wrong.

      Now suppose you want to insert a section break, so that you can vary the header/footer content between two parts of your document. Where's that command?

      Or you've typed '' into your document, and Word has oh-so-unhelpfully turned it blue and underlined it. You select it, but where's the "Remove Hyperlink" option?

      Best of all: if you want to find out which version of Word you're using, so that you can actually get help on any of this crap? That used to be "Help/About", but try typing "About" into the "Help" box today and see where it gets you. Now you have to click that gaily patterned roudn thing that doesn't even look like a button, much less a menu, click on "Resources" and look at a whole list of buttons inviting you to try exciting operations that, if you're fool enough to try them, will suck up literally hours of your time to zero positive effect. ("Diagnostics"? Jobs save us. "Is Microsoft Office having problems?" - how the hell would I know, that depends what it's trying to do, I know *I'm" having problems, but to project those onto Office would be to assume that Office is supposed to help me, which is an assumption I currently see zero evidence for.)

      I've been using Word 2007 on a daily basis for the past four years, and I've wasted more time looking at those blasted ribbons for functions that, as often as not, aren't even there, than I have actually using any of them.

    3. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Exactly. You still struggle after 3+ years of using it almost every day?

      By any stretch of the imagination, that's clearly an abject failure.

      How long do *you* think it should take to learn where the features you want to use are?

      Personally, the bit that drives me potty is the "Hide all the documents you're working with when you try to save one of them".

      Sorry, but under what circumstances can that ever be a good idea?

  5. ByeLaw101
    Thumb Down


    For me the Ribbon takes up too much space on screen, and it does clutter things up.

    If MS is interested in advance UI, why don't they give people a choice instead of forcing this on them? I've been using the Ribbon interface in Office for years now and I still don't like it!

    Maybe I'm just getting old and stuck in my ways?

    1. Wize

      Ever since XP came out...

      ...every machine I've used I've turned off the extra 'features' that fill up the screen. It looks like Win95 but I don't waste screen space on chunky borders or big task bars that I don't need.

      They should let us make the same choice in Office.

    2. sab0tage

      Are you blind?

      Click the down arrow near the help button (it's the question mark in the blue circle) and it will magically disappear and take up less space than the menu did in Office 2003.

  6. Sampler

    User interface and Human Interface Devices

    The ribbon approach may be annoying waste of screen real-estate when you have a keyboard but isn't one of the stated implemenations of Win8 tablets? Smaller touch interface devices may benefit from a larger chunky, finger friendly ribbon bar.

    As long as you can switch it off I don't see the problem ;)

    1. cloudgazer

      conclusive proof

      that attempting to make Apps UIs work equally well with both input paradigms makes for equally bad experiences with both.

  7. banjomike

    Ribbon, yuk

    If you want to see a ribbon, and you don't have Office, then go to Start - All Programs - Accessories - Paint. Very un-useful.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I think Excel Viewer wins

      for the most pointless implementation of the Teh Ribbonz. The thing has virtually zero functionality: I do not require a huge set of buttons to remind me of this.

  8. Cameron Colley

    The ribbon doesn't go far enough.

    They should make the ribbon 10 times larger in every application, so that every possible command available can be shown on the screen at the same time. Then they can present one line of the document or file structure just above the status bar at the bottom of the app.

    Either that or just force all users to wear an undersized fucking letter box every time they use their PC.

    1. Marky W

      Amen to that

      Microsoft bod 1: Say, it seems as though everybody is moving to a widescreen display.

      Microsoft bod 2: Hmmm, it seems you're correct. I know, lets put a big ribbon at the top of all our applications.

      MSB1: Erm, I'm not sure you understood what I said.

      MSB2: It'll work especially well in Word, because of the aspect ratio of common paper sizes.

      MSB1: Riiiight. Wouldn't it be better to put the ribbon at the side of the screen?

      MSB2: No.

      MSB1: How about as an option? That should be relatively easy to do, surely, and would help our core customer base hugely. We did it in the past, remember?

      MSB2 (with hands over ears): La, la, la, la, la.

      MSB1 (quietly): I really must update my CV.

      1. Malcolm 1

        They thought of that

        Did you read the linked post? They moved the file properties to the side so even with the ribbon visible you get more vertical space than you did before. Hide the ribbon and you get a load more.

        1. Piro Silver badge


          Yes, but everyone sensible disabled the bloated preview pane at the bottom, enabled the classic status bar, then installed Classic Shell to give you back all the numbers you used to have in XP.

          1. Cameron Colley


            I think you mean "...everyone sensible whose policy doesn't forbid the installation of anything not approved and tested by a dozen committees ...". That said, I agree with the thrust of your post.

        2. foo_bar_baz

          @Malcolm 1

          The best feature of ribbons is you can get rid of them. Nice.

  9. Anonymous Coward


    "Only, as bloggers and commenters responding to the news on Microsoft's Building Windows 8 blog have noted, the company is giving people more of what they don't want."

    That's nothing new - they've been doing that since they started!

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Power Users ?

    In other words people who have used Windows?

    The ribbon idea is a joke.

    If they leave it in you should have the option to turn it off.

    But they wont/

  11. Dan Melluish

    I quite like the ribbon!

    I've come to quite like the ribbon in Office 2010 - I didn't like it at first but i've come round to it....of course I had a period where it took me ages to do anything in Word while I figured out where everything was.

    I suppose that is the biggest issue MS will face - what about all those corporate users? Training your staff is a *big* issue and might be enough to put some buyers off. Then again, if they are already using Office 2010 and Windows Vista/7 then it isn't going to be such a big change for them......i don't know.

  12. Wibble

    Can we have two interfaces?

    Why not ship it with two interfaces: numpty and classic.

    Of course this will be too easy.

  13. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Editability is key

    The ribbon, like any toolbar is fine so long as you can customise it and remove lots of things you don't use.

    This was the main problem with the original ribbon in Office 2007, it was fixed and not editable.

    1. Lunatik


      ...changing the menu bars in Office prior to 2007 was a simple case of right-clicking and playing about with the options, dropping in icons etc.

      In 2007+ (so they tell me) you need to get busy with the XMLs to achieve the same thing - hardly user friendly.

      Although in a great many ways 7 is a huge leap on from XP (c'mon folks, drop it like you dropped IE6 - let go!), some of the UI in Windows has been getting more wizard-y and proscribed in nature of late, this is just the next logical step.


  14. HMB

    Getting pushy with Touch Support?

    Is this not something being done for touch support that for consistency's sake is being pushed on all of us?

    I love the ribbon interface, but looking at the screenshot just made me pull a face like I'd eaten a lemon. One of the things I loved about Windows 7 was the useless guff that just added clutter in Windows XP's explorer was gone and the new look was good!

  15. Fuzz

    Non issue

    The only option I use on a menu bar in explorer is folder properties, I do everything else using shortcuts or right clicks.

    The office ribbon bar is a huge issue because people are so used to the old way.

    I can only see a ribbon bar being useful in explorer, however I would like a way to hide it so it's not using up my precious vertical pixels that hardware manufacturers seem intent on slowly removing.

    1. Wize

      I have avoided wide screen monitors for that reason.

      If I wanted to look through a letterbox, I'd become a pervert round at my neighbour's house.

      1. NomNomNom


        staring at all their filthy unopened mail you pervert!

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Looking through a letterbox

        The 16:9 aspect ratio used in widescreen displays is a close approximation of the ratio of the human field of vision (i.e. 180° horizontal and 100° vertical). For this reason, widescreen displays are perfectly natural, and using a 4:3 or 5:4 display means you're actually wasting the useful space at either side of your screen. The common "wisdom" that widescreen makes you lose space vertically is only true if you switch to a screen that has a shorter vertical dimension or a lower vertical resolution.

        Of course, the extra space isn't needed when you're looking at an A4 document in portrait orientation, so it could make a lot of sense to put the navigation elements and toolbars at the sides when working in a widescreen environment. With the current proliferation of widescreen displays, it seems Microsoft is missing a trick here.

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          @AC 13:04 - That's been pointed many, many times.

          Since before the release of Office 2007. Yet Office 2010 forces the ribbon at the top.

          I honestly think that the Office team simply went stark raving mad a few years ago, and it appears that unfortunately the insanity has spread. Shame, Windows 7 is actually pretty good.

    2. banjomike

      what folder properties button

      In Windows 7 the Explorer menu bar does not have a folder properties button any more. Microsoft and their tidy-up and simplify brigade have removed it. The ribbon "allows" it to be returned but at the expense of a lot more screen space.

      1. Paul Shirley

        they love hiding options they don't want you to use

        "Microsoft and their tidy-up and simplify brigade have removed it"

        As an XP holdout I didn't know that.

        What I do know is:

        1: I use drag&drop and double clicking for 99% of interaction, Explorer isn't an app you do much in beyond launching the real apps and a bit of file shuffling

        2: my context menu is full of the 3rd party tools I actually use, instead of some widget with just what Microsoft thinks I need quick access to

        All but the default windoze file menu is disabled. I'd kill that but the idiots decided to discourage the split window folder|file view by not giving it a shortcut and making it too easy to lose that view. So wasted space.

        Microsoft persist in believing Windows is the app, not just the shell that holds the real apps.

    3. Shaun 1


      It does come with the option to hide it

      "If you collapse the ribbon (double-click the tab, or click the Minimize arrow on the right side of the ribbon), you get even more vertical real estate with our new approach."

      1. banjomike

        more real estate but NO toolbar

        you can get slightly more screen space than with the old toolbar but at the expense of not having ANY toolbar at all.

        1. Piro Silver badge


          With the ribbon, there is also a quick access toolbar in the title bar of the explorer window.

          You can't get much more space efficient than that.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    So true!

    "Translation: With the Windows 8 beta now just weeks away, thanks for the comments, but don't expect anything to change."

    I can't stand ribbons at the best of times but the thought of it being applied to something as commonly opened, supposedly lightweight as a filesystem management UI is making me ill enough that I'm seriously considering a shell replacement for the first time ever in Windows. I just hope there will be some good ones out there.

    Perhaps the ribbon is rescinded if you change the Windows system theme? Wonder if there will be a Windows 7 or even XP theme.

    1. Handle M'Baughbags

      Shell replacements

      There are plenty good ones, or at least ones that once you've used you'll not want to go back :) I use DOpus 9 and hate having to use Explorer even if I don't make full use of all the features of DOpus.

      1. Shades

        Directory Opus is still going??

        I remember using that on my Amiga years ago (*cough* still do in WinUAE, real hardware is tucked away in the loft *cough*). Just checked out the Directory Opus website and they're even using the same icon!

  17. Paul_Murphy

    You know what would be nice?

    Choices.. that would be nice; change ribbon location, show icons/ text or both, hide ribbon, revert to menu commands, open ribbon in another window.

    You know - choices.

    I also wonder how disabled users feel about the ribbon - is it likely to be more, or less, usable? Not that I care really since I use OpenOffice wherever I can (everything aside from my corporate desktop).


    1. Glyn 2


      If we must keep the absmal ribbon, let's have the option to put the ribbon vertically on the side. Wide screens are great if you're looking at things in landscape view but as damned near all sites and documents are portrait, let's not waste valuable screen space with 2 inches of crap options I don't need.

      1. Yet Another Commentard


        Is it only me who noticed that I can rotate the phsical screen through 90 degrees (okay, that is hard with a laptop) and then tell windows it's been rotated. Hey presto - a roughly A4 sized monitor. Lots of top and bottom pixels.

        1. Marky W

          @ YAC

          I get the same effect by lying down on my desk and leaving my monitor as it is. I've had to sellotape my keyboard to the cubicle divider but it means I can catch a crafty 40 winks without attracting undue attention.

          Still working on the mouse problem: something cobbled together from a metal tray and fridge magnets should do the trick

    2. Dan Watson

      Special Needs

      Interesting you asked about disabled people. I work in a Special High School, dealing with children with Special Educational Needs from physical disabilities to Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia among others.

      We are using Office 2003, until October where we will be upgrading to 2010. While teaching 2003 I've noticed that SEN children struggle to get around the menus, those who have trouble reading and those who have trouble with shapes or numbers can't find their way around, whilst those with Autism and ADHD don't have the patience. Those with low IQ or who have poorly developed mental ability find the process of getting to the margin settings, for example, too long or forget what they are doing half way through.

      The ribbon is a massively helpful tool that reduces the time it takes to teach simple Word skills because the icons are right there in front of them. Trials with 2010 have found the perfectly abled teachers are the ones who have the most difficulty - because it's different, whereas the children have adapted really well.

      So there is a good use for the ribbon, and I can see the merit for having an option, but given the choice most teachers would choose to stay with 2003 menus - through nothing more than bone-idleness, than take the time to learn the ribbon, despite it's obvious benefits to education.

      1. Kurgan
        Thumb Up

        So ribbon is OK for disabled people...

        So what you are saying is that the ribbon interface is OK for people with cognitive problems, and is annoying for "normal" people. This post says it all about what Microsoft thinks about its customers.

        1. dssf

          talk about.... d. u. d.

          I thought it ironic, and -- no slight to disabled or SEN, and others -- found it interesting that it appears ms is trying to "dumb us down"...

          But, I still remember the days when Word Perfect had Jumbola Icons, and IIRC, we could choose 3 sizes, but as features increased or expanded, the icons shrank so more could fit on-screen.

          Too bad that - other than for graphics, CAD, and certain other things - the mouse is what most people reach for. It is mind-boggling and ReALLY frustrating for me when I am helping my ESL friends who type reasonably well, but reach for the mouse to select and edit or move or delete blocks of text. I find myself reaching for their laptop and pushing their hand off the mouse and lecturing them about when I was in High School (1980-1984), in Journalism, typing in WordStar (IIRC) and having NO such thing as a mouse available to me. I learned to touch type ~ 1978, and typing in the military with no mouse (ah, the Teletype... maybe THAT should be forced on anyone in school learning to type).

          It was a real blessing to learn to type prior to mainstream computer and mouse arrival. I think anyone leaning to type and is not suffering physical disabilities should be awarded a typing competency certificate ONLY after doing so with NO MOUSE involved.

          1. Anonymous Coward


            I upvoted your post without using the mouse.

        2. Richard Plinston

          Microsoft's customers

          > what Microsoft thinks about its customers

          Microsoft looks after its customers.

          You are not one of Microsoft's customers.

          Dell, Walmart, HP, etc are Microsoft's Customers.

          What its customers want is the need for users (such as you) to buy new hardware, new software, upgrades, upmarkets, bigger, newer.

          For example: new file formats that make old versions obsolete, new shiney things that need more processor power, new GUI tricks that need faster GPUs and bigger monitors.

          And most importantly new, or at least different, features so it doesn't just look like the old XP that you have been hanging onto, after all what would be the point of buying anything if it was just the same as what you already have.

  18. Cybergit

    Am I the only one who likes the ribbon interface

    I really like the ribbon interface - all of the commands I constantly use right there at the top of the screen, in my field of view. The ribbon made Office 2010 far more useful than Office XP. Yes it took a few minutes to find some features but once that was sorted, I was away.

    It always amazes me when IT people bitch about change, progress and new ways of working. Isn't that what users are supposed to bitch about - we(IT bods and bodets) are supposed to be the champions of change.

    Get over it! Move on! Quit whinging!

    1. Glyn 2


      No you're not the only one, this doesn't make you right though

      The ribbon is non-customisable, unintuitive and takes up a lot of screen space unlike the old menu system.

      There may be a better way of doing the ribbon is not an improvement over the old toolbar. Change in and of itself is not the point. Let's change for the better or keep what we've got that worked.

    2. Chemist

      "we(IT bods and bodets) are supposed to be the champions of change."

      I think you're supposed to be champions of IMPROVEMENT not change

    3. JimC

      > We are supposed to be the Champions of Change?

      Are we? I always figured we were primarily there to enable the poor users to get on with what they need/want to do without having to become experts on the damn technology which is all too often as much an obstruction as an enabler. And the more time and money we have to spend on perennial upgrades, training and all the rest of it then the less time and money we have to help the users by customising/tuning the technology so that it closer meets their needs...

    4. Dagg

      Not for me!

      >I really like the ribbon interface - all of the commands I constantly use right there at the top of the screen, in my field of view.

      As a power user all the commands that I want have been hidden away and it takes me two or three clicks to do the same as I use to do with one. The ribbon is for noddy or disabled users. I'm staying with my old XP office!

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    How about building UI's that realise that most people are using widescreen monitors (not always by choice). In office we are displaying a portrait document on a 16:9 screen. Stop gobbling up the vertical and start using the edges.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Turn it round

      Windows does make it fairly easy to turn your monitor through 90 degrees, if your hardware will cope. Then on a 9:16 screen, you need something to fill the vertical space, because A4 isn't 9:16, so the ribbon makes eminently good sense there.

      Editing documents on a portrait-format screen is rather good.

      1. Paul Shirley

        portrait mode great for smaller monitors

        @Andrew Martin:"Editing documents on a portrait-format screen is rather good."

        I imagine it is, unfortunately I get horrible neck and eye ache trying to use my 23" monitor in portrait, it's just too tall!

    2. Peter Simpson 1

      Or rotate that monitor 90 degrees

      as several in my office have done.

  20. corrodedmonkee


    Worst comparison in history. Sure, pick the documents folder with the stupid heading extra, and how many power uses have that bar that large on the bottom (even then it's too big, at it's smallest setting). Win 7 can easily display 26 in that space, though they could get even more if they removed the complete waste of space that is the Organise, Share with bar. Horrible, horrible comparison.

    It's obvious the Windows 7 one is more streamlined. Ribbon is not always the answer Microsoft.

    Despite these Ribbon changes the usage will stay the same, people stay with what they know. The copy and paste on the right click is something engrained in every application MS make. Let alone ctrl+c and ctrl+v which are completely ubiquitous in almost every application ever written.

    Though, I'd just be happy with the location path bar and the file list... but I suspect I'm not alone in that wish, nor the typical user. Though I do kind of wish MS would make an expert user mode, and the nubbins mode for everyone else.

    I mean, you could advocate Ubuntu here but they did just seamlessly blend in the most horrific parts of OSX in by default.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      I've just tried to make my Windows 7 Explorer match that screenshot, and it won't.

      On "Large", the silly icon is bigger than the one in their screenshot, and on "Medium" it's smaller.

      The "Small" size is the default one.

      I have 24 files visible when in the same location at the same window size using the default "Small" icon size.

      If I'm in a 'normal' folder instead of a special one I can see 26-and-a-bit files.

      And what's with the shitty antialiasing in the Windows 7 screenshot?

  21. The BigYin

    Come to the dark side

    We can have menus (if you want)

    Or ribbons (if you want)

    Widgets (if you want)

    And multiple desktops (if you want)

    And multiple panels (if you want)

    And "active desktops" (if you want)

    And....well, you get the idea.

    Of course, you should only switch if your software is cross-platform or a viable alternative exists. This is not always the case unfortunately.

    1. Jean-Luc

      @dark side

      And Gnome3

      And KDE 4x

      And Unity

      1. The BigYin



        1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge


          Wont be room on the bonfire with all those Gnome 3 lovers/creators on there

      2. AJ MacLeod

        Gnome3 / KDE4 / Unity

        The above are indeed all abominations and infuriating in their efforts to make exactly the same mistakes as the closed-source world.

        Having just rebuilt my own machine on new disks I did suffer Gnome 2 for a week or so (the semantic desktop garbage in KDE 4 finally drove me away from KDE after using it since the pre-1.0 days) but E17 is definitely my choice for the forseeable future. The Everything launcher is great, I've no need of a "start" style menu or ribbon as part of my desktop at all.

        As usual, the open source world provides you with real choice...

        1. Ohb1knewbie

          KDE4 FTW

          Admittedly I'm a bit of linux noob and am not really sure what you mean by “semantic desktop garbage in KDE 4”. Google leads to something called Nepomuk which does seem to run by default on my Kubuntu 10.04 installs on my desktop and laptop but without the tray icon I've seen on some other distros I've played with. Is this the reason searching from within the Dolphin file manager is such a failure?

          I do know that I often hear bitching about the new menu structure in KDE 4.x, which is baffling considering that with widgets unlocked the Kickoff context menu allows changing back to the classic menu structure.

          All in all I have no serious beefs with KDE, but I still dual boot with XP. I've played with the Vista/7 interface and am really dreading the day when I have no choice but to upgrade. Why does MS insist that their end users are by default morons? Linux is great for personal use but the reality is that if you work in a corp enviro you're forced to use whatever MS sells.

        2. Jean-Luc

          @AJ & choices

          (geez guys don't burn me at the stake on this)

          I have worked a long time with Python. Now Python is quite weak in at least one domain: GUIs.

          Now, why is that?

          For years, Python laissez-faire attitude to 3rd party took no special effort to standardize GUIs. None was perfect, and Python is easy, so everyone rolled their own. tkinter/pythoncard/boa/pythonwin/wxpython. Etc... Drove new users bats, even as proud Pythonistas trumpeted choice. wxpython is one of the better ones, mostly because the other competitor's devs lost interest.

          Thankfully, Guido eventually semi-annointed Django as the primus inter pares of web devs. As a result, efforts tend to concentrate on making it better. And, we, as a language, have a coherent web story to tell newbies. Without asking them to evaluate tons of different toolkits in the name of choice.

          Of course, that has zero relevance to what you said. Sorry, a French moment on my part.

      3. Richard Plinston


        > And Gnome3

        > And KDE 4x

        > And Unity

        Yes, but there is choice: XFCE, LXDE, Trinity (KDE3) or several others.

  22. Chris Miller

    Does anyone posting actually use these products?

    Right-click on the menu line, select 'hide ribbon'. There, that wasn't too painful was it? And an actual *gain* in screen real estate.

    The ribbon represents a significant improvement in UI. You can right-click on any operation and place it into a 'quick-access toolbar' at the top of the screen. Of course, you have to *tell* your users about the changes. Far too many organisations just roll out the next release without any thought given to training ("everyone knows how to use Word/Excel"), with the result that most people are wasting half their screen space. Typical 'penny-wise, pound foolish' attitude of modern management.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm pretty confident

      that nobody here is using Windows 8

    2. Piro Silver badge

      Oh no, organisations do..

      But as an afterthought, giving IT a ridiculous burden.

      "Here, tell this woman for the 50th time how to copy a file"..

    3. Glyn 2


      I hope you weren't using the black colour scheme as black icons on a black background...

  23. amanfromearth

    Redmond != Cupertino

    It's Microsoft design. Get used to it.

    Not that big of a deal

  24. MontyMole


    why are all those people all moaning about the ribbon interface? It can be bidden & I bet most of those posting on the Windows blog don't even use the current toolbar on explorer. Most of them probably use the keyboard shortcuts so won't make an difference to them.

    Where the ribbon will be reall useful if for all those occasional users, rather than having a crypic toolbar of icons, they will have some text which will help them to workout what they need to use.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ALT-F for FAIL

      Your right I had to replace it somehow. That meant migrating to other office suites in some places, and 3rd party soft in others.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Folders icon. (Stuck on XP at work).

  25. BlueGreen

    You know it's a fail when M-x dired starts to look attractive in 2011

    per title.

    1. Aaron Em

      dired? srsly?

      Comparing ribbon UIs and dired is like comparing herpes and testicular cancer.

      And I'm saying that as an Emacs user! (Specifically, one who's savvy enough to have figured out that most of Emacs's vaunted complexity comes in the very beginning. Fortunately, in working out how to turn off the ninety-five percent of a typical Emacs distribution which is made of fail and agony, you learn enough to configure the remaining five percent into a damn good editor.)

  26. LJRich

    A new interface to learn?

    Hmmmm, well, seeing as I have a new interface to learn anyway I might as well see what else is on the market. Oh hello Linux, Mac!

  27. CD001

    In an...

    In an age where web browsers are taking up less and less on-screen real estate (to use a meerkating term) - to the point where you do everything with mouse gestures, context-sensitive menus and a single bookmarks button or bar (toggled via a keyboard shortcut perhaps)...

    ... why are Microsoft taking the retrograde step of bloating out the UI? Just give me (the option to use) mouse gestures in (Windows) Explorer - that would be a step forward - I don't need zogging great icons cluttering up my monitor to perform common Ctrl + X|C|V|A operations.

  28. ad47uk
    Thumb Down

    another reason to stay with windows 7

    i hate the ribbon, total useless waste of space, why change something that works fine? If Ms stick this ribbon system into windows 8 then it will be a good reason to stay clear and stay with windows 7.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    MS, Meet Ubuntu. Ubuntu, meet MS

    You have more in common than you may think.

    Why not together and develop bad user interfaces together?

    1. serviceWithASmile
      Thumb Down

      from what I can tell

      most of the bad points people are putting forward regarding W8 is the idea that none of this faff can be turned off, or that it rearranges things so that you have to relearn where the same tools are.

      when the unity interface was added to ubuntu, that happened - but you can turn it off or use a completely different window manager or uninstall it or use a different build or use a different distro or use xfce or kde or you can learn it or you can hack it yourself to fix everything you think is wrong with it.

      there is a clear winner here in my eyes, comparing them is like comparing seaweed to chickens and debating their various uses as foodstuffs.

      they do the same job but everything else about them is completely different.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        That's why I'm staying with the Penguin!

  30. ph0b0s

    Auto hide

    I am not a fan of the ribbon, and don't like Microsoft's attitude of not caring what 'power users' think, but if you can hide the ribbon as can be done in all other stuff that uses it, what is the problem?

    If you don't like it hide it then you have the win 7 interface again. The comments about having it take up space infer that people have not used the ribbon before.

    I wish Microsoft had done something more innovate though....

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      "Hiding" the ribbon doesn't work either.

      I currently use Office 2010, and I've tried both hiding and not hiding the ribbon.

      In the Outlook 'main bit', hiding the ribbon works because I can put everything I use into the top-edge toolbar.

      However, it's an abject failure everywhere else.

      Why? - Once you need any command on the ribbon, it covers up a notable part of your document. Even if that top part of the document is where the caret lies.

      Ergo, even when hidden, it *still* manages to annoy the user and waste space.

      The fundamental problem appears to be that Microsoft think that their UI graphics are more important than the work the user is doing.

      That's so stupid that I find it hard to believe, but as the alternative interpretation is that they are actually insane...

  31. Bassey

    I've never understood the debate

    I've never understood the debate over the ribbon. It is there for people who don't know the app. If you know the app you use keyboard shortcuts. If there are functions for which there isn't a keyboard shortcut, create one or place that command on the home ribbon. I can understand the argument that it takes up too much space (though I'd argue that is as much a problem with stupid monitor manufacturers making everything wide screen and so reducing verticle resolution - but that is another debate) but advanced users will never use the ribbon as is. They will bypass it for the 90% of things they do using shortcuts and they will customise it for the rest.

    It isn't there for us. It is there for the new users so they don't have to wade through 5 or 6 sub-menus to find a command - or, more likely, use a program for five years without ever discovering 95% of what it can do BECAUSE it is hidden in so many sub-menus.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      As a right-clicker

      I am used to handling a lot of formatting in Office through selecting the bit of text and right click.

      However I have found that the functionality of the right click changed in versions of Office with the ribbon and its hard to find things I'm sure were there somewhere in the programme version before.

      (example - perhaps it's just me, but using Publisher the other day I could not find how to change paragraph spacing for a block of text I'd selected)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Not necessarily you...

        As soon as you select a text in a text box an extra ('special') ribbon appears which provides options which are specific for the section you're working on. In this case you're looking for the tab "tools for text boxes". There you'll find an icon in the section "font type" (or I think, I use a localized version); its the second section on the ribbon.

        There is an icon with two arrows in it. "change the space between characters".

        And for the record: I hardly use Publisher myself. Merely started it to check what you were gaining at.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Wasn't me

          The icon with two arrows only does horizontal spacing,

          To get to change the spacing between lines, I had to add the icon/command via customising the ribbon.

          After I found the command by going through the help.

    2. Jean-Luc

      @I've never understood

      (disclaimer, this is only from using Office 2007 ribbon, not 2010. And not Win8)

      My hate list:

      - Click on something and the ribbon changes panes on you. So, the command you want to use may or may not be available, but you first have to go hunting for it in the panes. Basic UI rules: don't hide things on users randomly. That's why one person on this thread states "I like the ribbon, but I am still finding my way around it after 4 years". No irony.

      - Office Keyboard Shortcuts? Never heard of them, except for the common _system_wide_ cut & paste, bold/italic, etc... Let me elaborate: I hope to God I don't become an Excel power user. I mean, there are plenty of people whose job is justifiably doing very clever things with Excel. But there are way more people IT who spend all their days in Office adding little obvious value. So, no, don't give me that keyboard shortcut crap, let me get my casual Office use done in a reasonable fashion. Don't ask a coder to become an Office expert. Even one who can cook up Office macros if needed.

      - Office 2007 ribbon can't be customized easily. I tried.

      - I use at least one 3rd party plugin whose command set has been relegated to Outer Mongolia in order to leave the glory of Office Tracking more fully apparent.

      - It would have been easy to give us the option to keep the menus. There is one plugin that gets 80% of the way there, restores all the commands in a menu structure. Unfortunately, it not being part of the glorious Ballmer Brigade, it also gets to sit in Outer Mongolia in the screen real estate. But it shows it could be done.

      - In order to simplify things, Ballmer decided that we shouldn't know the full directory name of a document. Too confusing. That title bar is so much better with just the name. Screw the fact that my system has dozens of identically named DOC files. Again, a plugin restores that, but why not make it an option? We're seeing that as well in Win 7 Explorer, with the Library-based path aliasing.

      - If you add long time idiotic Redmond Explorer decisions like hiding file extensions, insisting on using icons rather than detailed views, hiding system files, etc I can only shudder in anticipation that Win8 Explorer will enshrine those dumb decisions by not letting you modify them.

      - Toolbar icons + menus easily trumped ribbon, IMHO, in terms of instant access & consistent access to less-used items.

      Face it, Windows doesn't need that much cosmetic change. The power users don't want it. I want better security, an end to always running vendor-specific updaters (looking at you, Java & Adobe), no-reboot-patches and a decent command line. But it's not for us to decide.

      Casual users want consistency and security.

      But actually making Windows 8 better is too hard so we get the ribbon.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ok, me old user will go find the me old way

      and drop the new if the new is for new users only. Fair enough? I finally stopped using Office and went to OpenOffice when Office went to ribbons. Guess will have to do the same for the OS too.

  32. clean_state

    Long live the ribbon

    I like the ribbon in Office as well. Of course, retarded secretaries howled because they had to learn their Office again. They were already howling when their IBM typewriter was being decommissioned in favor of a computer. For new users however, the ribbon is way better than crawling through text menus.

    Congrats to Microsoft for having the guts to upset their existing users and do something disrupting, innovative, and simply better.

    And also shame on all the commenters asking for "choice" in UIs. I am fed up with UIs that give you 10 bad choices. You spend an hour trying all 10 options, only to realize they are all crap and that they are there because the UI designer was not able to make one decent UI. 10 turds is not a replacement for one good product.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      And what was wrong with toolbars?

      Toolbars. They basically are ribbons, minus the massive overuse of space and a tab bar that confuses everyone who uses it.

      But lets ignore the fact you could pretty much stick every icon in Word into the same space the Home Ribbon takes up. I mean, why use one click when you can have two.

      1. Stacy
        Thumb Down

        Actually, they are not

        The ribbon is +/- three rows of tool bars (which most people I know have on their screen). So it takes up no more space. If you hide the toolbar you actually have more space than with the toolbars.

        But then people just love to hate MS. If they don't change they are dinosaurs, and if they do then they get slated because people have to learn something new.

        It took me a while to get used to them, but I love the ribbons. If you really want your tool bars then get office on a Mac - then you get both :)

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    Use Directory Opus as your explorer replacement. It knocks the socks off of Explorer.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Improved Keyboard Shortcuts

    Read the original post, there's over a hundred new keyboard shortcuts added to Explorer.

    Sounds like an improvement to me, especially since double clicking the ribbon in Office hides it.

    I'd expect the same in Windows 8.

    1. IanPotter

      RE: Improved Keyboard Shortcuts

      100+ additional shortcuts? Do you get a space cadet keyboard to go with that?

      "Function foo? Certainly, that's shift+alt+cntrl+super+meta+coke bottle... No use your nose man!"

  35. Vitani


    I notice that there's a few screen shots of their old file managers: DOS, Win3.1, XP & 7, but where is Win95/98? Missing because it's the best version they ever made perhaps? Don't want to compare the latest bloatware to something small and functional?

    Hmm ...

  36. Red Bren
    Paris Hilton

    A sinister question

    What is this "right-click" people are going on about?

    <- Paris, because she probably uses both hands

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What's in a name?

      I too am in the correct minority, but I still call left-click right-click.

  37. James Pickett


    If the ribbon is so good, howcome Apple haven't adopted/borrowed/stolen it? I'm not a fanboi, or even a regular user, but they do know about usability.

    1. Vortex

      I'll be back.

      15 years ago I moved from Apple to W95. Despite being a fully paid up anorak I have experienced immeasurable hassle and frustration ever since

      I recently purchased my daughter a high end iMac (a necessity in her "world") and it has been an absolute revelation. My current Windows machine will be my last. Twice the price, but 0.25 x the aggravation works for me.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        Yes, thankgod for the beauteous, unchanging and profoundly intuitive Aqua UI from Lion... umm Snow Leopard... ah, Jaguar?

        Meanwhile, back at the barn window- a pox upon the ribbon, it's designers and adherents, all their progeny and any willing associates until universal heat death quells the promise.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I don't mind the ribbon in Office 2010

    It did put me off upgrading from Office 2000 (yes I know).

    However, I have come to like it.

    That, and I upgraded to O10 for $10 via a bulk licensing deal thru work.

  39. Anonymous Coward

    Is Solitaire getting a ribbon?

    "Windows 8 is about reimagining Windows, so we took on the challenge to improve the most widely used desktop tool (except maybe for Solitaire) in Windows."

    Who are they getting their data from?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Telemetry, allegedly

      Sounds very scientific, doesn't it?

      1. Jean-Luc
        Thumb Up


        Even if it was truly user observation, you could have self un-selection bias which could make for unrepresentative populations.

        i.e. If you have a clue about Windows, you opt out of any calls home to Redmond.

        Leaving the blind to lead the Ballmer.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'Icons in the ribbon ... will cover 84 per cent of the actions'

    ... and 25% of the screen. Icons showing randomly selected pixel-art of archaic real world items. Icons that may or may not connect in the user's mind with their desired task, depending on cultural associations that the 'designers' assume are universal. Icons of mysteriously varying sizes to reflect an assessment of importance that will not match the user's. Bear in mind though that the ribbon will help nurture the Windows support and training industry - hence the IT Dept's enthusiasm for rolling out upgrades at the expense of business productivity. For that reason, I think the nursery colour scheme of recent MS software is deliberate, and designed to increase the user's sense of helplessness and dependency. After all, there's nothing IT hates more than a power user.

    1. Glyn 2


      You forgot magically appearing buttons and button labels.

      Not to mention the clipboard panel being first on the list, which most people never, ever use as they use the shortcuts that the ribbon lovers want us to use.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Icons, like the save icon showing a floppy disk.

      There are kids at schools doing IT lessons with MS Office who have never ever seen or used a floppy disk!

      Hyperlink / External Data from Web icons being a world with or without a chain link.

      Again, there are young people who have never really called it the World Wide Web, and don't remember old IE icons.

      There are some old diagramming conventions, such as gold cylinders meaning DB connections.

      I was always puzzled why the small icon of Outlook was a clock. An envelope would be more appropriate, as is behind the clock on the large icon.

      Not sure if I like the real estate of a full-size ribbon, although I'd never noticed the real estate that the status bar in 7 uses!



    Maybe pouring molten silver in the eyes of Windows user's children is unreasonable punishment, as is slitting them open and watching them die with their entrails falling out. A simple bullet to the head ought to suffice.

  42. John Rose

    Re Open Office

    I've always suspected that MS's real reason for the Ribbon's introduction into Office was to dissuade newbie users of MS Office from switching to Open Office which uses a similar menu structure to the old MS Office. Obviously, this gives a good chance of maintaining their future revenue from MS Office.

  43. Anonymous Coward

    M$ is going backwards in progress....

    Frankly the idea of the Office suite is to be productive, right? I fail to see that this new UI is assisting in making that easier or not. I believe three principles come into effect here:

    1. Don't [Swear] up a working code

    2. K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid).

    3. Don't reinvent the wheel.

    I see Microsoft refuses to listen to either of these principles.... This is the reason I still use Windows Vista and XP with Office 2003, I can't get any work done with that god dang ribbon UI.

  44. Anonymous Coward

    I think trying could be believing

    Quite frankly I don't understand all the negativity regarding the ribbon interface. Actually I think I understand some of it though; I cannot help wonder if some of you are so used to your current workflow that you are basically worried that you need to learn something new again. Understandable, but I don't think it's going to be that bad.

    I was a sysadmin during the period of the very earlier versions of Word. Never really dove into it (wasn't my department so to speak) but it has always amazed me how many toolbars most people who were heavily using Word kept on their screen. At one time I asked a receptionist about it and it turned out that bar A had 3 icons she regularly clicked, bar B 4 and bar C 1 and bar D 1. So she kept half her screen filled up with toolbars because she wanted quick access to a few items on them. Then I started looking at Word myself a bit better, learned that you could create custom toolbars and so one problem (screen space) quickly went away.

    The reason I'm saying all this is because I think times haven't changed that much.

    People who have been using Word from the earlier versions know that in order to do "X" you need to make a certain toolbar visible and then press icon "Y". OR you find that option in the menu. But what about the people who /don't/ know this fact yet ?

    Just because people use Word quite heavily does not imply they know all about it. No offense to those who do of course, but in most cases people know how to use certain options. And having to find such options in a menu OR having to start with trying to find the suitable toolbar to show up is a lot harder than using the current Ribbon interface. In my opinion that is.

    What I also think many people are ignoring here is that it doesn't /have/ to fill up your screen. Just click the "fold" button and you're clear of icons and only see the sections appearing as if it were a pulldown menu.

    But I still think that having a lot of icons appear is a lot more accessible than having a large list of menu options appear. Especially if those menubars would risk becoming too large to fit on the screen.

    I can't help wonder: are ribbon naysayers actually using Office 2010 or are they still on 2003 yet not looking forward to this interface? And why is that? Because you don't like the way it looks; or because you're afraid it'll be totally different and know that you cannot count on any help from your company with the transition what so ever?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      now really.

      If you're talking about me, I /did/ have to use Office 2010 for a month +. I could not stand it and thus downgraded. Microsoft doesn't perform much in terms of actually teaching its users how to use it's UI. I don't care how it looks I just want the damn thing to be straightforward. It's not.

      Heck I don't care if it's pink for crying out loud.

      This was never about if [power] users cared what it looks like, M$ wants to 'help' in productivity and

      they're not actually making any legitimate improvements. You get the same crap in Office 2003 that you do in the latest Office without the crazy toolbars.

      I'm sure most of the readers here would agree that they're use to the same toolbar concept that has been working flawlessly since oh around, 1990, aka 21 years. Why mess that up now...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Toolbar concept

        But isn't the ribbon basically one big toolbar with the main difference that its contents change ?

        And even if you don't like the whole idea of using separate "tabs" to switch between you can always customize the ribbon by displaying all you want on the first (or a custom made) tab thus fully (IMO) emulating the old "several toolbars on the screen" approach.

        Besides; its also arguable that the ribbon takes up /less/ space (talking in the Office context here). In Office 2003 you'd always get toolbars to pop up the very moment you did something out of the ordinary. Adding a chart somewhere in Word and wham... The "Chart" toolbar would appear. And looking under "Edit -> Toolbars" wouldn't show you the chart toolbar there either. If you wanted the same functionality somewhere else you'd need to set that up yourself.

        Within that context I'd say the major change here is that everything has been forced into one single section on your screen.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          IT Angle

          Also, since when did beauty = productivity?

          I don't understand the need for this toolbar. I know Microsoft has the crazy intention to make computing 'beautiful'. (Read: "Beauty Of The Web w/ IE9:). However this contradicts the point of all this in my honest opinion. Who the hell is gonna care if software looks good or not? A GUI is acceptable to make the software easier to use, rather than use 50 odd switches for an obscure command line application but asides from that, let's get down to business.

          A. Why the hell is it called a 'computer' if it wasn't for computation?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Let me help you ...

      "Quite frankly I don't understand all the negativity regarding the ribbon interface."

      1. It takes up too much screen space with no benefit

      2. People (like me) who have used Office products for > 20 years don't like it. We appear to be in a majority.

      What's hard to understand?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The cause is hard to understand


        1) It takes up too much space.

        Hide it and your space is reduced to only a menubar. Then the functionality is IMO no different than that of a regular pulldown menu. The big exception is that its not going up/down after you click a section but left/right, that and the use of icons instead of menu items.

        Item 2 is of course strictly personal, but I've been working 20+ years as a sysadmin and its my experience that in many cases users who approach a product with "I don't like it" will most likely never like it whereas users who are willing to give it an honest try usually discover many new advantages.

        That is the beauty (IMO) with commercial software. Time will tell. If you don't like it don't upgrade (granted; this isn't always by choice). Take Vista; /many/ people didn't like it and stuck to XP and we all know what happened next.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Oh, and ...

          3. The nature of the ribbon interface obscures the relationship between parts of the application that naturally should belong together but in a different hierarchy.

          Its BAD UI design. This isn't Luddism -- I've been involved in human/application interaction for a long time and I've seen a lot of horrific ugly messes, but I've never seen a more effective way of wasting the end-users time than this one.

          Its also typical Microsoft. Two years from now it'll have become another thing they will throw away and re-invent so why should I waste my time bothering about it now?

          Beyond a joke and I resent it.

    3. Glyn 2


      Why is it that anyone disliking a new technique/technology/method is a luddite?

      "Actually I think I understand some of it though; I cannot help wonder if some of you are so used to your current workflow that you are basically worried that you need to learn something new again. Understandable, but I don't think it's going to be that bad."

      That is just an insulting, pointless statement. New things have come through over the years with alarming regularity and have been adopted by people into their natural working methods. It's not about learning new things it's about the fundamental flaw in the idea.

      Here's a new idea, why not use a diamond tipped stylus to improve the accuracy on your touchscreen phone? Because while the basic idea (a more precise pointer) is desirable, the execution is flawed.

      It's new, so why aren't you using one? If "it's new" and/or "it's what we're doing now, get on with it you luddite" are both valid arguments I expect diamond tipped stylus (stlyii, stylee) to be on all your phones by the end of the week.

    4. Anonymous Coward

      this is part of what IT is supposed to be about

      re: "Then I started looking at Word myself a bit better, learned that you could create custom toolbars and so one problem (screen space) quickly went away."

      That's the most helpful thing I've seen in this article's comments. Thanks.

  45. Zippy the Pinhead

    Not not just go back to the classic menu?

    I mean really how flippin hard is it to click on Start? Vista started this crap but at least it had the classic menu hidden as a option and you could switch back to it. Under W7 I had to install a replacement start menu because the crap new menu.

  46. CmdrX3

    Look on the bright side.

    At least we get the fucking delete button back at the top of our explorer window.

  47. JB


    ...we invented the ribbon, and we're damn well going to implement it, OK!

  48. NomNomNom


    Another reason to stay with windows 2000

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Another reason to stay with windows 3.1

      1. Anonymous Coward


        Why upgrade to Windows.

  49. Anonymous Coward

    Its called giving users what they want ...

    Its simple: Allow users to have either trad menus OR a ribbon. A boolean toggle.

    If that's too complex an issue for MS Marketing to get their heads round, then they really are truly doomed.

    Now go away and act like a grown up.


  50. Anonymous Coward

    met with skepticism by a set of power-users

    WTF surely "a set of power users" = EVERYONE in the world that wasn't involved with the design? Bad enough talking a user thru hitting alt to bring up a hidden menu bar.

  51. kjrunner

    movable, dockable toolbars

    Am I the only one that detests the ribbon (only used Office 2007) because I can't simply take a menu/ribbon item and move it into my workspace as a floating toolbar, or dock it elsewhere and always have it displayed? I use this primarily in powerpoint where (1st case) I need to use connector lines between objects: drag connector line menu out as floating toolbar in workspace, quickly pick connector lines and objects then close toolbar, or (2nd case) dock the align object toolbar and dock it out of the way (bottom or side, depending on monitor) so I can always quickly select objects and align them (and with a quick glance see if they will align to the slide or each other). I have found in no case an extremely convenient way to replicate this function. This is why I hate the ribbon, it took up a bunch of my screenspace and reduced the convenient ways to use the interface.

  52. MonkeyBot


    "What happened in practice, however, was that the ribbon caused confusion and damaged productivity as people were forced to re-learn their way around Office."

    Anyone who was seriously confused by the ribbon is unlikely to be doing anything productive anyway.

  53. Paul Powell

    The ribbon is mostly a good thing

    Most people in business have not the slightest idea how to use 99% of the functions in MS Office. This wastes a hell of a lot of time and effort. With the ribbon I've noticed that my users are finding some of the more interesting functions.

    If I had given them the option they would initially have stuck with the menus and continued to not use 99% of the functionality. Now they use about 5% - well, you can't have it all can you!

    1. Dagg

      have two versions

      Office for idiots and Office for power users!

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Icons in the ribbon under the Explorer's "home" tab will cover 840 per cent more screen real estate."

    No charge

  55. Eduard Coli


    Why can't M$ make both menus available?

    Something like default to the ribbon and make a menu option available in update.

    Perhaps M$ assumes their user pool like to be told what to do.

  56. Inachu

    This is proper theory crafting indeed!

    Long ago I remember someone stating Microsoft would be making their Office suite into an operating system and this is their goal.

    If Microsoft is going to do this then they should do it with brains and style.


    Make Microsoft WINDOWS XBOX OS fully usaable with mouse and keyboard.(FOR GAMERS)

    Make MS Windows RETRO for newbies who just want the basic basics of Windows.

    Make MS WINDOWS for power users with no GUI at all.

    Of course make all the above 64 bit

    Zicke, zacke Zicke, zacke hoy!!! hoy!!! hoy!!!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Things we used to have...


      - Early versions of Office apps, such as Excel, used to come bundled with a runtime version of Windows 1.0. 30 years too early?

      The Apple Lisa also had similar, Lisa Office gave it a mac-style UI.

      As did the Amstrad PCW. :)

      Make Microsoft WINDOWS XBOX OS fully usaable with mouse and keyboard.(FOR GAMERS)

      - You can plug a keyboard into the existing Xbox. Dreamcast, which used CE for some games / apps also had a keyboard

      Make MS Windows RETRO for newbies who just want the basic basics of Windows.

      - I remember the days when I had the upgrade pack of Win95. I could run it alongside win3.1. If I wanted speed, win3.1. If I need 95, it was there too.

      Make MS WINDOWS for power users with no GUI at all.

      - Like we used to have with DOS? :)

  57. Anonymous Coward

    Dear Microsoft


    Sincerly, pretty much everyone who isn't a MS fanboy or fangirl.

    And Microsoft's reply:

    Well, you just have to get used to it. Five years isn't enough time to prove that a UI is bad.


  58. Bango Skank

    How about leaving the ribbons, rosettes, and deckchairs

    ... and fix the damned software!

    Enough already with the furious pace of shifting functions around and trailing gossamer and spangles all over, and get some of the basic functions fixed.

    The GUI is bad but we have now figured out once again where all the bits are and what they mean, so leave well alone and focus attention on making them work better and with fewer of those pesky "oh dear" banners that mean the app is busy crashing and wants to seek help from a mothership that never seems to be awake.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Eg: How about letting me open two files in Excel with the same name?

      Surely I'm rather likely to want to compare two files in different folders with the same name.

      -After all, if they have the same filename they're probably related to each other in some way.

      Please unbreak "View side-by-side". That used to work beautifully, now the 'default setting' for "View side-by-side" is "View one above the other", and it takes a *lot* of messing about to make it actually side-by-side, and it never remembers that arrangement.

      Finally, I'd really like it if I could have a Copy/Paste that actually works. I'd quite like to be able to do something in between Copy/Cut and the actual Paste event.

  59. anaru

    Go to tucows dot com...

    Remember that? It's full of shareware file managers from the nineties. Go and download one if that's what you really want, and have fun running it on your 17" 4:3 monitors.

    If you cant find one that does exactly what you want, fire up Borland Turbo C (none of this silly newfangled plus plus rubbish, right?) and write your own.

    Maybe one of the nurses will make you a hot cocoa for a bit of a sugar spike for when you really hit the zone...

  60. BernieC

    Not again

    I really cannot add anything to the discussion because all the things I loath about the ribbon interface have already been said and in a much more erudite fashion.

    I would just like to say that this means I'll probably have to stick with Windows 7 for the same amount of time I had to stick with Windows XP while Microsoft battles with the misfortunes of foisting yet another OS disaster on the public.

    Will they ever learn?

  61. json

    Oh something finally from Microsoft...

    ..after months of no news (aside from the Win to Mobile thinggy and Balmers rants), this?

  62. Jack 23

    Alas it will only get worse

    The reason the ribbon will stay is:

    The productivity of workers using Office, on a scale of dribbling moron to enlightened superbeing, goes up exponentially if you're using the traditional menus and something like logarithmically if using the accursed ribbon. Most people have a skill level topping out somewhere around the cross of those too productivity curves, so using the ribbon will increase productivity in any organisation that isn't full to the brim with enlightened superbeings.

    There is little reason why the menu structure cannot be retained for enlightened superbeings though, because as enlightened superbeings, they probably know enough that any extra support costs incurred by running two interfaces to the same system will be nullified by the fact that the enlightened superbeing knows considerably more than user support, who generally know a little about a lot and a lot about nothing.

    1. amanfromearth


      "goes up exponentially if you're using the traditional menus and something like logarithmically"

      I think you mean linearly somewhere in there.

  63. tatteralan

    The ribbon

    Earlier this year, I moved from Office 2003 to Office 2010. My initial reaction to the Office 2010 ribbon interface was that it was unlovely. Several weeks later I had to concede that it was not only unlovely but unloveable as well and I regressed to Office 2003. It's great to be home.

  64. Jerry Masterson

    Bad marketing

    When you make a major change to a product that requires the user to relearn it, you lose any advantage you had over your competitors.

    If you have to relearn Office you might as well consider OpenOffice, etc. too. A major change in Windows? consider a Mac or Linux as well. Vista was a great example. Make big changes to usability, for better or worse, and have people look at alternatives. Many of those flocked to the Mac and they ain't coming back. If M$ had cleaned up XP a little that wouldn't have happened.

    Few people want change. Most just want to get the job done. We live in a world of forced upgrades. Your ten year old XP machine died and you want a replacement? Its Win7 or nothing. Which means your old, perfectly fine software will probably need replacement. Which means retraining. All of which adds up to extra cost that pisses customers off. Many are wising up and shopping elsewhere.

    Ironically, the Mac version of Office (2011) can have the ribbon turned off and all the old buttons restored.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      @Jerry Masterson:

      "Which means your old, perfectly fine software will probably need replacement. Which means retraining. All of which adds up to extra cost that pisses customers off. Many are wising up and shopping elsewhere."

      I can run my Office 2003 on my Windows 7 box.

      Heck, I can even run Office 97 and, if I wanted, Office 4.3 in an XP mode.

      But if I were to buy a new mac to replace my G4 Tiger or Intel Leopard machine, Office 2004 wont run on it.


      I also wish they would fix the fact that opening 2 spreadsheets in Excel opens them in the same instance! I want seperate windows for seperate documents, especially across multiple screens!

  65. Drakkenson

    Alternative file manager

    I know this is not strictlyrelevant to the discussion, but...

    There is a very good file manager and it is free, too.

    Multi-pane, menu/shortcut control, file preview option if you want it...

  66. mark 63 Silver badge

    my users dont know what explorer is!

    They refer to files that are "in excel" or "in word" , and do all their file management in the "open file" dialog box.

    I dont know wht we pay for windows when we could dump a linux desktop down - there would be no loss of productivity because they know fuck all anyway.

    I guess these Ribbons are for 'normal' home users not corporate drones

  67. George 24

    Yes but

    Please, consider that the current version of office is 2010, not 2007. The ribbon in office 2007 was so bad it was significantly and for the better in the later version. So if you have to have a ribbon, base it on 2010. With screens getting wider, the realestate is on the horizontal plan. Putting fat ribbons at the top does not make sense anymore.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It never made sense.

      Except for some users of Excel and Access, almost everything you do in Office applications is in portrait.

      So no matter what shape your screen is, putting more stuff top or bottom is a strange idea.

      Even more so now that computer monitors are almost exclusively 16:9 instead of the 16:10 aspect they were for a while.

      (I still miss the pixels I lost when I went to a "Full HD" laptop screen. 1080 < 1900!)

  68. P. Lee

    Upvoting Marky W!


    Dopey laptop security means my Win7 work laptop looks absolutely stunning... in an RDP session on my 24" pre-widescreen imac.

    We hates the widescreen when we view our precious A4 documents, yesssss.

  69. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Guilding the turd

    with or without the ribbon turning your computer into a typewriter whether open source or not is fucking laughable.

    Like using a light sabre to sharpen flints for your hand scythe while sitting on a combine harvester.

  70. Anonymous Coward

    My mother

    has about an inch of screen left after the ribbon and her large text occupies the screen in outlook, excel, or word. fail!

  71. Anonymous Coward

    New Coke

    Why is it with "Ribben" I get this Day Ja View thing going on.

    Coke: everyone loves new taste of "New Coke". In surveys people do profer "New Coke" over Coke-Cola.

    Microsoft: everyone loves new interface of "Ribbon". In surveys people do profer "Ribben" over Explorer.

    Learn from others mistakes otherwise ...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      You can get away with a single copy of old Office to get the menu back.

      With New Coke, well, how much space does 300 2-liter bottles take, and how long will they last? The answer was, A LOT, and, until Coca-Cola Classic was released.

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Thank goodness

    Thank goodness they're bringing back the "up one level" toolbar icon!

  73. Anonymous Coward

    Open Office

    Microsoft once again fails to realise that users want what users want and not what Microsoft want.

  74. This post has been deleted by its author

  75. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    throw out the ribbon or throw out the OS

    I finally gave up on Office and went to OpenOffice when Office switched to ribbons UI, just was not worth the hassle to relearn everything - I want to work, not learn UI. Looks like the same for windows too?

    1. I want to work, I want my pixels to be about my work, not about UI

    2. I do not want to spend time learning UIs, I want to work

    3. can't msft just accept that people actually work on their cpts, and not just go ga-ga over some UI?

  76. Tidosho

    Gonna be issues on tablets!

    If Windows 8 is going to be used on fondleslabs (layman's term tablet), as much as I feel, the ribbon may be useful due to the big button style, but bad due to the clutter and screen space. We need a solution between ease of use and tidiness, I don't feel the ribbon is it.

  77. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    The True Story

    The actual Microsoft Windows 8 'design' article is not at all about ribbons and other stuffs. It mainly says that now IT ( or data processing ) in more or less 50% CutNpaste. Remaining 'creativity' belongs to IDE. So please do not Invent!

  78. rav
    Thumb Down

    Ribbon???? MS Please dump it!!!

    I hate the Ribbon Interface.

  79. Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft's data on how Windows 7 has been used has found that...

    You mean "Analyzing data on Windows 7 usage, Microsoft has found that..." ?

    (honest question, English is not my native language...)

  80. James Pickett


    "retarded secretaries"

    So how fast can you type?

  81. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    support got that bit harder

    Woinder if these guys have ever tried to support someone with limited knowledge that just bought a PC without the aid of remote assistance by phone.

    No? thought not.

    At least I have the reassurance of being able to call up the drop down menus in 7 if the user is struggling with the interface.

    Yank morons.

  82. BlueCollarCritic

    The New Micro$mooth Origami Interface (Its about Perception, not Usablity)

    A lighthearted spoof/look at a seriously annoying issue… The new Micro$mooth Origami Interface replacing the user favorite Toolbar/Menubar:

    TO: All Micro$mooth Employees

    RE: New Micro$mooth Origami Interface

    Its critical in this age of austerity and budget crunches that we at Micro$mooth give our users a reason for paying to upgrade Winders and what better way than to give the Good Old Menu/Toolbar interface a make-over! The new Winders interface will feature our revolutionary Origami interface. The OI as we call it, takes the most commonly used user actions (amongst our narrow testing group) and features them prominently (in Extra Large Font Type) in a super-sized Splash Screen that is sure to grab their attention by dominating no less than 1/8th of the users screen. It will be impossible for users to miss this revolutionary change.

    It’s difficult, darn right near impossible in many cases, to convince management to pay for that next Winders Upgrade if the changes are not visible. Even if fixes and improvements are what the users are asking (even begging for in some case) it’s what we do superficially, that which is visible and easily seen, that we can change and help (visually) drive the perception of a major overhaul in the Winders OS thereby justifying the need to pay for that upgrade. The new Origami Interface is paving the way for these upgrades and our executive bonuses.

    While there were extensive issues and many user complaints from all markets and user segments when we implemented the Origami interface in our 2007 Office upgrade we are positive that just as they did then the Marketing and Legal department, working together, will help us make the Winders 8 Origami Rollout a perceived success through the downplay, re-direct and all around squashing of all user complaints and providing the various periodicals and news outlets with charts and statistics showing a wide acceptance by all to the Origami.

    In closing I’d like to remind all that it is key that you help us sell the world or Origami and we can’t do that if our own employees refuse to use the Origami interface themselves. However we also realize that the Origami lowers production far too much to simply ignore. To resolve this matter we are releasing an internal only version of Winders 8 that will feature an option to swap between the traditional Menu/Toolbar and the new Origami interface. While visitors are in the building all will be expected to switch to the Origami interface and do your work as best as you can.

    Thank you for being a part of the team hear at Micro$mooth


    Shill Fates

    President And CEO of Micro$mooth Hard Software

    NOTE: This material is for internal Micro$mooth use and should not be distributed externally.

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