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back to article Developer leaks Microsoft product plans for next two years

A Microsoft developer has taken the unusual step of publishing a partial Redmond roadmap for some of the company's most important software. Maarten Visser, CEO of Dutch cloud developer consultancy Meetroo, posted the plans, which were issued by Redmond at the end of last year, on his Twitter stream and they include launch dates …

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Alert

Much ado about nothing.

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Paris Hilton

HOORAH

MAN NOTHING MAKES ME HAPPIER THAN TO HEAR THAT MICROSOFT HAS PLANS TO MAKE MY COMPUTING EXPERIENCE EVEN BETTER

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Mushroom

Re: HOORAH

YOU MAY HAVE NOTICED THE KEY LABELLED 'CAPS LOCK' ON YOUR KEYBOARD.

It makes your text go all lower-case and readable, just like this!

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Re: HOORAH

Yeah... about your caps-lock key: it appears broken. This has already been pointed out to you in another post, politely and in an in a friendly manner.

Please fix it.

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FAIL

Re: HOORAH

@not_equal_to_null and Dave126

I think your sarcasm detectors are faulty. Please fix them.

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Stop

Re: HOORAH

Seriously, he's obviously a troll, who cares if he uses caps lock or not, it's not burning your eyes out is it? MORE IMPORTANT THINGS TO WORRY ABOUT REALLY. See what I did there?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: HOORAH

aarghh my eyes!! my eyes!!!

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Windows

Nokia will be well chuffed..

Thought I'd mention it in passing...

(Oh, @ Big Dumb Gay 555 - it's the key on the left that turns the CAPS LOCK off. M'kay?)

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Yawn

Originally wasn't IE 10 due last year? Microsoft's browser strategy is an epic fail and that, despite acknowledging their need to placate corporate IT, is driving people to adopt Firefox, Chrome and any phone OS that isn't Windows: IE 9 just doesn't cut the mustard.

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Re: Yawn

IE9 works well for me. I'm not sure what problem you're having with it exactly. It even - astonishingly - contains some good development tools much to my surprise. (Aside from all the usual for Javascript, breakpoints, editing CSS in situ et al, Being able to flip between IE9,IE8,IE7 modes for backwards compatability is an absolute blessing when doing web-work. Firefox is okay, but every third time I start it, it's "do you want to update? Can I update? Can I? Can I please?". Opera is excellent as it always has been.

Seriously, I find it hard to read your post without seeing it as anything other than pure bias and double-standards. Is IE9 perfect? Probably not. Is it good and comparable to any other browsers around? Yes, imho. "Epic fail". I do not think this phrase means what you think it means.

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Re: Yawn

Except that IE9's 'IE8' mode renders the same page differently to how a real IE8 renders it, meaning that it's a guide at best and unreliable at worst.

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Re: Yawn

IE9 works well for me. I'm not sure what problem you're having with it exactly

Please point me at the Linux version.

Long ago I tried to start IE for Solaris on a system with only 128MB of memory (256 was "more normal"). Whereas Mozilla started up in 20s on that system (and was usable), IE still had it paging furiously 2 hours later with nothing to show for it, at which point I put the poor system out of its misery.<br>

I never did get to see what it was like...

And I never feel I'm missing anything at all by using a Web Browser rather than IE (which is, as I'm sure you remember, an integral part of the Windows OS)

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High-speed updates...

like Firefox, can be a real pain in the neck.

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Re: High-speed updates...

I disagree completely. Each update is fairly minor and you don't notice it's been updated. The only way I could see it being and issue is if you have some really nasty plugin that's poorly made and breaks each time.

Otherwise the chrome / firefox way of updating is superior.

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Meh

Re: High-speed updates...

I would prefer it if FF checked if add-ons would break prior to updating so that I can cancel the procedure without loss of functionality (while accepting the mildly increased security risk).

I still prefer FF over IE, and I haven't had this issue in a while, but it is irksome to see the dialogue box "checking add-ons for compatibility" after the upgrade process has completed.

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Re: High-speed updates...

They may be nice for home users, but a pain for business. All of a sudden, I can no longer connect to a Cisco VPN. Thanks Mozilla, thought MS fail too - back to IE on XP.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: High-speed updates...

For those who haven't seen it, if you don't like the rapid-release model, you can use the Firefox ESR (Extended Support Release) which includes regular bug fixes and security patches etc but not the 'ui revolution of the week' changes.

http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/organizations/faq/ and follow the link at the bottom of the page.

Pointing to the FAQ so people can't say they weren't warned what they were getting, clear diagram at the top.

TLDR: Breakages once a year, not once a fortnight :P

Doesn't seem to be advertised much anywhere and was not obvious to find - they don't seem entirely keen on too many people using it, a clear message you get from reading the FAQ.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: High-speed updates...

Block the update server in your hosts file?

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WTF?

Re: High-speed updates...

I don't understand what the problem is with Firefox and updates. Firefox can be told to check add-ons prior to automatically updating, warn if an update is available without actually automatically updating, and simply not check for updates. That should cover most options.

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FAIL

I'm sure Nokia will be chuffed with the yearly software updates... No honestly...

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And the crowd goes mild. Well done Microsoft, thinking outside the box, hopefully if you can rejumble the horrible Ribbon interface you won't even need to "add" any new features.

IE10 is another surefire hit, with the news IE market share was up for one day they've clearly rushed it ahead.

Yawn. At least Google and Apple do stuff worth taking the piss out of.

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Yep, I had a perfectly serviceable word processor and DTP program on a 486 SX 25 or Mac LC III, either with 4MB RAM. Autosave was a nice touch on some Win2k system, when my swinging legs caught the power cable, but what have you done for me lately?

By 'lately', I mean the last decade.

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Joke

Developer leaks Microsoft product plans for next two years

And, oddly, no one cares...

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Anonymous Coward

Why did you use the Joke icon?

Seems like a simple statement of fact to me.

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Dear Microsoft...

... about your Ribbon Interface or whatever the f*&^ it is. As schoolboys we were taught that it was good practice to run the old old system concurrently with the new. Y'know, with a view to ironing out user issues and bugs.

You might have heard of this hot tempered geezer who took his company from what looked like a terminal decline to being worth more than Exxon, FFS. Guess what? Menus are mandatory on his system. Menus- those things your users have been using for 20 f*&^ing years. I'm sure you have a reason for making users choose between paying for a version of your software that is shit + your OS, and a good version + your competitor's OS. But please tell us what it is.

I appreciate that you have a webpage that tells me where to find a Ribbon command for a given menu selection- why the f*&^ you couldn't link it to the command in question in the f*&^ing UI is beyond me.

Yours faithfully

(faith so sorely tested over the years its beyond a joke)

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Facepalm

Re: Dear Microsoft...

Running two entirely separate interfaces for the entire Office suite would be (ignoring the development and testing pain it would cause), very confusing for users. How many times a day would I have to hear someone say: "My ribbon's gone. It's all turned into menus" when they accidentally switched to legacy mode and didn't know how to turn it back?

Honestly, for a demographic that is supposed to be good with trying out new things, there are some folks in the IT world who are seriously close-minded. I used Office for years before the ribbon came along. Knew most of the keyboard shortcuts and knew pretty much where to find all but the most obscure features. And I picked up the ribbon in no time and found it pretty effective. I can actually demonstrate that it is fewer clicks to get what you want for 90%+ of usage with the ribbon than it was with the menus. But some people seem to actively *want* the ribbon to cause them problems. I think some just like to feel aggrieved.

Seriously - the ribbon is not complex nor difficult. Anyone who finds it so, seriously needs to revise their opinion of how technically competent they are.

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Pint

Re: Dear Microsoft...

If I could up-vote you more - I would.

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Re: Dear Microsoft...

I could understand a ribbon interface (or similar) for tablets but for laptops and desktops I think I'll need to revise my opinion of how technically competent I am, as will many others. Perhaps if too many people need to revise their opinion of how technically competent they are, the problem's not with the users.

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Re: Dear Microsoft...

I remember receiving a document with an embedded picture in it that I wanted to amend. To edit the picture I (eventually) discovered that I needed to click "Insert" on the ribbon first. Not particularly intuitive.

My own personal thoughts are that the ribbon is an attempt to lock a new generation of users into their own software by force / legality. They do this by creating a new totally unintuitive interface that looks nothing like the "File - Edit - Vew - Etc." we've all become accustomed to and then copyright or patent it. Then because it's "Microsoft" the schools and colleges teach a whole new generation "the wrong way" to use Office. This new generation of kids can now no longer use the classic interface when released into the real world, and as such cannot use competing products, and will refuse to do so. Competing products are unable to incorporate "the wrong way" interface into their products, because MS have copyrighted / patented it. Yay, no threat to any of MSs revenues by competitors or Open Office.

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Re: Dear Microsoft...

"I remember receiving a document with an embedded picture in it that I wanted to amend. To edit the picture I (eventually) discovered that I needed to click "Insert" on the ribbon first. Not particularly intuitive."

Isn't there a "Picture" section of the ribbon that appears when you click on the picture? With the edit options in there?

I personally like the ribbon, it's made visible some features that I never knew existed. This outweighs the drawback of some things taking more clicks than they did before. Just my opinion

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Re: Dear Microsoft...

The ribbon isn't complex or difficult, but it's a disaster as a piece of UI design.

It adds nothing, hides essential features inside a Sargasso Sea of inconsistent idioms, wastes screen real estate, jars users with an unnecessary change, and generally fucks off everyone who's been used to working with menus for the last x decades - you know, the idiom has been a GUI standard since the 60s.

Even if some self-styled ultra-genius exceptions like yourself find the ribbon a marvel of productivity, the fact is that most people don't. Even those with years of Office experience who use it every day.

It's just Clippy in long trousers.

But that's MS for you - bravely innovating in directions no one cares about, to make software harder to use and less productive for the average punter.

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Re: Dear Microsoft...

Well, I find it rather hard to understand how the average technical user (such as I would think most people on El Reg. qualify as) can say they find it hard to work out the ribbon. As for laptops and desktops, I'm interested to know why the availability of an even more precise tool for clicking than fingers (the mouse or touchpad) suddenly makes the ribbon less suitable for these devices than on tablets. Sure, menus are more penalized on tablets than the ribbon is, but that doesn't mean that the reverse is true. Why would it? As pointed out, the majority of activity in Word, Excel, etc. takes the same or fewer clicks with the Ribbon. And it's not hard to guess where things are to be found. There are only seven default categories, none of which have sub-menus like the old system did. Unless people who profess to hate it so much can actually point out remotely common use-cases where the Ribbon makes things harder, not easier, then I don't see how it isn't just being annoyed because they don't like change.

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Re: Dear Microsoft...

"I remember receiving a document with an embedded picture in it that I wanted to amend. To edit the picture I (eventually) discovered that I needed to click "Insert" on the ribbon first. Not particularly intuitive."

That's a bit bizarre. If you open a document in Word and then click on the picture, a big purple tab appears at the top of the screen with Picture written on it. This contains all the options for editing the picture in one place.

"My own personal thoughts are that the ribbon is an attempt to lock a new generation of users into their own software by force / legality. They do this by creating a new totally unintuitive interface that looks nothing like the "File - Edit - Vew - Etc." we've all become accustomed to and then copyright or patent it"

An argument against progress if ever there was one. Also an expression that you dislike the Ribbon because you're not used to it rather than because of any actual flaw.

"This new generation of kids can now no longer use the classic interface when released into the real world, and as such cannot use competing products, and will refuse to do so. Competing products are unable to incorporate "the wrong way" interface into their products, because MS have copyrighted / patented it. Yay, no threat to any of MSs revenues by competitors or Open Office."

If "kids" are unable to use competing programs because they haven't been taught it at school, then I think that would be a pretty strong argument that the menu system was hard to remember and navigate for some people. (Not for me - I found it fairly easy, though I had to hunt around for the more obscure stuff). So I would hardly blame MS for wanting to replace it. Also, this "real world" you refer to, contains the Ribbon now. Are you arguing that kids should be protected from it so that they come to it unprepared?

And for someone arguing against the Ribbon, it seems rather contrary to take the stance that it's wrong because other people can't emulate it. Isn't that an argument that the Ribbon is advantageous?

Really, this is a tired argument. The Ribbon has been with us for years and I have seen more than enough non-technical users adapt to it and even welcome it in that time. Similarly I have seen plenty of technical people nod at it and say "Yep - this is cool." The only people I find against it are a weird demographic of technical users who loudly complain about it, but don't seem to actually demonstrate what is wrong with it (e.g. X takes more clicks), instead coming out with vague (read: unsupported) statements that it is unintuitive or - a new one on me - that it's wrong because other companies will be disadvantaged by not being able to do it themselves. Quite frankly, any person who thinks of themself as technical, and struggles with the Ribbon, should hang themselves in shame. And if they can understand it just fine, then what's with all the angst and ranting?

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Windows

Re: Dear Microsoft...

- Instead of menus filled with options with small icons as an aide memoire you have to remember icons of varying sizes sometimes aided by small bits of text. There can be large icons or two rows of smaller icons or three rows of even smaller icons. The result is instead of primarily remembering a vertical location within one of the menus you're remembering a horizontal and vertical position in a series of overlapping ribbons.

- Some icons or groups of icons open drop-down menus where further options are displayed, some open dialog boxes, and some leap into action there and then but unlike menus the differentiation between the tree types is not clear, especially in the case of those which open drop-down menus where getting there is basically trial and error.

- The functionality of groups or options don't split neatly into the seven-or-so ribbons, instead it depends on the category and icon group as often the relation between the icon groups is tenuous to say the least. Why should Protect Document be in Review and Macros be in View?

You can argue that this is simply because of not liking change but the point is that ribbons are much more irregular and it's not as obvious what the next step will be (action, drop-down, dialog...). While this doesn't matter so much with a touch interface because you look at where you're going to tap then tap it, it's annoying with a mouse as with the classic WIMP interface, if I know that my option is near the bottom of the File menu I don't even need to think about where to drag the mouse until it's nearing the bottom of the File menu and then it's a case of fine-tuning where I'm dragging it. With the ribbon interface I need to be looking at the screen and guiding the mouse to the right place with the rectangle right from the beginning.

Also, in common with Metro, mouse movements are much more sweeping for no particular gain.

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Re: Dear Microsoft...

"How many times a day would I have to hear someone say: "My ribbon's gone. It's all turned into menus"

Juding from the users I support, lots, followed by cheers of joy that the god awful ribbon has gone. :-)

Personally I don't like the ribbon, but I can just about get on with it for the little bits I do actually do in Word and Excel but some of the users I support really moan about it, guess it's because the actually do more in Office than I do.

Rob

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Re: Dear Microsoft...

The problem with it is this another of Microsoft's "Here's the way you do things now. You WILL like it. You can't change it". If you could customise it, like being able to move it to the side, where it would make more sense on a 16:9 screen, or reduce the size of the icons, or reduce the size of the ribbon itself then it would have fewer detractors.

It's not the only thing they insist on forcing upon people. Backspace aways moved you up a directory until recently. I've been forced to use Windows 7 for ages now and it's still annoying to have to use alt-up.

And there are annoyances which have always been in Windows, which they haven't fixed. Too many to list here.

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Meh

Re: Dear Microsoft...

Microsoft have a tricky situation here. They want to bring out something new. But take windows as an example, once a new version comes out, the first thing everyone does is spend a few hours making it look exactly like the previous version ( dont deny it!)

so you either:

a. let users chose which interface they use and they will, 99% of the time go with the old one, and all that dev effort was wasted.

or

b. force users onto the new one. MS currently take this route.

I dont know which is better. I personally like the ribbon. for most of what i do it makes life much easier than older versions of office, but thats just me. I might not be clever enough to realize that its crap.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Dear Microsoft...

It's not about trying new things. It's not about technical competence. It's about evolution. Some bird got in charge at Microsoft, whose entire job in historical times, was to hunt for berries of exactly the right colour because they were ripe. Men however, don't see the differences in colour, and little berry shaped drawings. Men have only 16 default colours. How many times have you heard some pointless conversation between your wife discussing some object (say a red one,) using stupid names like cerise, plum, burgundy etc. It's red.

This is why the cleaning product aisle at Tescos is just a haze of different colour bottles of stuff. I go blind in there. It's aimed at women.

So the Ribbon turned up, and all the male techies, who aren't allowed to criticise any of the stupid shit that women do, because you get sacked for that, didn't think it was worth their job to point out how wank it was. So everyone's going "Look at the King's new suit!"

But men see things differently, we don't do massively colour discriminating, wide peripheral vision.

So when it was changed from Menus, with words written in a language that we've used the whole of our lives, to little multicoloured scribbles, inevitably it was difficult for men to understand what the point of that was. Sure, women can see. So can gay men, who have the same brain wiring, but men can't. The more manly your brain is, the harder it is.

So to summarise. The marketing staff at Microsoft are useless girlies and the Ribbon is shit, because it was designed by some moron without the capacity to take in all people's native talents.

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Bronze badge

Re: Dear Microsoft...

Running two entirely separate interfaces for the entire Office suite would be (ignoring the development and testing pain it would cause), very confusing for users.#

Why would it be confusing to let the user chose which they wish to use?

"Hey, Microsoft is letting me use it the way I want too!"

OK - I see the confusion there now...

As for development costs - just separate the menu content from the menu-data display. Then the same set of menus could be displayed either way (and, shock, horror, in Metro) and any change you make in one would show up in the others.

So a simple separation of data and display. Only needs to be written once. Microsoft could do it and provide it as a standard API on their system. They could even decide to use it themselves (without resorting to using undocumented features and side effects for an added MS-only speedup).

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Re: Dear Microsoft...

> seriously needs to revise their opinion of how technically competent they are.

Most Windows and Office users aren't, and do not want to be, 'technically competent'. They just want to type up a memo or a report for what they are competent at, such as selling or bean counting, and have been given this jumped up typewriter thingie to do that on.

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Flame

Re: Dear Microsoft....cont'd

P.S. If you Ribbon interface is so fscking good, why have you been forced to have this web page that tells me where to find the Ribbon command for a given menu selection? Perhaps that should be an indicator that your latest of whizzy vs. usability didn't quite turn out the way you expected. Again.

Yours faithfully,

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Coat

@ Gordon 11 -- Re: Dear Microsoft.

As for development costs - just separate the menu content from the menu-data display. Then the same set of menus could be displayed either way (and, shock, horror, in Metro) and any change you make in one would show up in the others.

In other words, apply some basic software engineering principles to their shit...er...products?

Gee, what a concept! I guess there's a first time for everything.

But it wouldn't fly, tho. Micros~1 has long ago stopped being a technological company, and the marketing hacks that now run the asylum wouldn't know an engineering principle if it were thrust through their hearts.

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FAIL

Re: Dear Microsoft...

"Honestly, for a demographic that is supposed to be good with trying out new things, there are some folks in the IT world who are seriously close-minded. I used Office for years before the ribbon came along. Knew most of the keyboard shortcuts and knew pretty much where to find all but the most obscure features. And I picked up the ribbon in no time and found it pretty effective."

Well congratulations, you're almost as clever as the rest of US.

I tried the ribbon, learned how to use it, even learned a nifty trick or two on it. Then installed OpenOffice, then LibreOffice, then Thunderbird, then and uninstalled Office 2007.

See, I hate the ribbon and I do not have any problem trying new things.

Windows 8 is another ribbon-like turd, can I learn how to use it? yes, I can. Can I get used to it? Sure.

But I question: what's the fucking point of those UI changes?, I can not work any faster no matter how much you fiddle with the design of the GUI, and most of the time it gets in my way!

Last time I had to configure Outlook it was the 2010 version and I could not find the bloody options until I added an icon with the functionality to the window bar .

I'm pretty sure is dead easy and I just missed it on the ribbon because I do not like change (sure).

But can you tell me this:

How comes that spending 10 minutes looking for a bloody icon beats:

menu->settings->options

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Linux

Re: Dear Microsoft...

Agree 1000%

I call this ribbon/metro interface style VCR-like interface.

In the 80, a VCR had nearly a button for every single function, heck even there was a small door somewhere where you could find even more buttons.

It took months to learn how to use the beast, if you could figure what the instructions manual meant this is.

Buying another VCR meant having to re-learn the whole thing again to do essentially the same stuff I did with my old VCR which was to record porn overnight.

It went so bad as my dad buying another VCR of the same brand in the hope that he wouldn't have to re-learn the whole thing again, nope, each new one a new set of buttons, leds and switches.

That is what the ribbon is, and unfortunately monkey see, monkey do, ask the Gnome guys and their unholy mess (I mean Gnome 3) or the Canonical boys and their abortion (Sorry Unity)

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Devil

Re: Dear Microsoft...

It seems you did not do much in the past, the functionality has been there 20 years.

I had no problem finding stuff in the help that came with office even considering how bad it is.

I hope you never have to learn to use something like AutoCAD.

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Thumb Down

Re: Dear Microsoft...

Stop the "do not like change" song/straw man, if you think you can do more with the software (word 2003 vs 2007 for example) now with the ribbon than before, it is because you never bother to try, or you never needed the functionality in the first place.

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Linux

Re: Dear Microsoft...

My 7 year old said to me not long ago that she preferred to type in Writer than in word, and her answer was, that she could read the options.

My 4 year old loves to click everywhere in Windows 7, but hates to play with my Gnome 3 laptop, I hate it too btw, but I had to try new things, just in case I do not like change.

After all I guess that 15 years using computers do not qualify me to have some criteria about a decent GUI

How much for a kids argument.

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Stop

Re: Dear Microsoft...

"Seriously - the ribbon is not complex nor difficult. Anyone who finds it so, seriously needs to revise their opinion of how technically competent they are."

Technical competence does not mean that I want to learn a new interface with every few versions of a piece of software that I use often. In fact, the *more* I use it, the **LESS** I want to have to learn a new way of using it.

You want a real world example?

Imagine if the auto manufacturers decided to shake things up and make drastic changes to the way we drive a car. That interface has evolved over time and there is little variability in it.

Meanwhile, the car dashboard has more variability through time and across models/manufacturers. Keep that in mind the next time you're in an unfamiliar automobile and you're trying to make use of some functionality on the dashboard.

"Honestly, for a demographic that is supposed to be good with trying out new things, there are some folks in the IT world who are seriously close-minded."

Trying new things is one notion. Drastically changing the fundamentals of something familiar to us is quite another.

To continue the sematics exercise: it seems that this "trial" of the ribbon UI is telling us that it's a failure. What gets many people's goats is the fact that we're paying to be guinea pigs in what effectively is an experiment.

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Re: Dear Microsoft...

"if I know that my option is near the bottom of the File menu I don't even need to think about where to drag the mouse until it's nearing the bottom of the File menu and then it's a case of fine-tuning where I'm dragging it."

It is called muscle memory and it is one of the ways the brain optimizes repetitive patterns.

The ribbon/metro/unity/gnome 3 completely destroys that notion because things that at some point are in one position could move to another sporadically.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Dear Microsoft...

I agree. As a teenager back then, I was in awe of all those buttons. They seemed to me a promise of infinite possibility, even though I could of course never afford such a system. I guess someone at MS hired a teenager to lead their UI efforts. If so, and if that person is reading this: "Go home, and do your homework!".

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