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back to article Metro's mother to replace defenestrated Windows boss Sinofsky

Microsoft's decision to fill the small void left by departing Windows boss Steven Sinofsky with Julie Larson-Green and Tami Reller is a boost for the empowerment of women at US tech companies. Larson-Green is Microsoft's first female Windows development chief, in the wake of Tuesday's shock departure of Windows and Windows Live …

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I predict anguish

Numerous posts from people complaining about how hard the Ribbon is to use yet somehow consider themselves more technically adept than the legions of ordinary people who manage to use it fine. Here we go...

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Anonymous Coward

Nearly true

Yes. Frustration at the fact that things move around and that the 'find' thingies are way over on the RH side.

Yes. Frustration at the amount of vertical real estate it takes up on a corporate 1366x768 laptop.

Breathes sigh of relief and starts Office 2003 and only uses Ribbon Encumbered versions for final formatting.

Good enough for you?

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Happy

Re: I predict anguish

Why would there be any anguish

Office 2003 is fantastic and can read DOCX documents perfectly with the addon

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Windows

@H4rm0ny

Agreed, although for me it does matter where its being used. In Office I really like it. Sometimes I keep it visible (Word, Excel), in other places I simply don't want to lose so much room (Outlook, OneNote).

In other programs however (when trying Explorer in Win8 for example) I didn't particularly like the Ribbon. But as you said: hide it and its gone. Out of your face.

Within Office 2010 I like it... You can either use keyboard shortcuts, "Ribbon shortcuts" (press alt once and you see what I mean) or simply use the Ribbon.

I can fully understand that people who were completely familiar with the menu (and its structure) can have some issues finding the options they need. But for me (not so familiar with the menu and its structure) the Ribbon structure made a lot of sense. There's logic being used: I want to insert something in my Word document? I click the 'Insert' tab and there it is: from inserting empty or premade pages to inserting pictures, illustrations, graphics or headers, footers or symbols. Creating an contents section? Its not something you insert; but something you make: a reference. So click on the 'Reference' tab and presto: from inserting contents or indexes right to footnotes, endnotes (also references!) right down to marking items or adding cross references.

And the option to customize the Ribbon is also a very welcome one. After using MS Office for approx. 3/4 of this year now I have plenty of options I use the most. Some end up in the "quick tool bar" and for the more "complex" (and often used) options I simply made my own Ribbon section. Now I hardly have to switch between "Start" or my own section.

Sure its not perfect; I also have had moments when I was searching for one specific option which I couldn't find. But is that really something only happening with the Ribbon ? I doubt it....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I predict anguish

Yes. If all I did all day was write word documents, and kept them all in one folder, then I'm sure I'd get used to the stupid little boxes, even though they're tiny, and resemble the Tescos cleaning products aisle.

Alas I don't. I use it once in a blue moon, so instead of a new set of hieroglyphics, and things hiding behind things that don't even resemble a button. I'd really just like something written in my mother tongue.

And if all I used my tablet for was harmless work, then I'm sure I wouldn't mind the contents of folders appearing in boxes. Instead, you wander around wondering if at any second, some porn's going to appear on a folder shortcut, willy nilly.

It's crap, she's useless, and she should be sacked.

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Trollface

Re: I predict anguish

>how hard the Ribbon is to use

If you think its hard to use you should see how bloody nasty it is to work with the Ribbon in code in windows apps with VC++ and MFC. Microsoft instead of making their own well documented well tested Ribbon control instead at the last minute bought one off a 3rd party, BGSoft, and it sucks. Not only is it poorly documented but its poorly written as well (only positive is you do get the source code at least). Oh well at least M$ is finally seeing the light and moving back to C++ and away from the joke that was .Net.

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Linux

How hard the Ribbon is to use?

> Numerous posts from people complaining about how hard the Ribbon is to use

It's not hard, it's different, can't be reconfigured without editing some XML file and is less efficient than the old method, it's like a GUI designed by Teletubbies ...

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Linux

Things move around ..

> Frustration at the fact that things move around ..

Yea, for something that was 'designed', I know of no user-interface that benefits by the control widgets moving about. In fact it takes longer as your eyes have to continually scan the Ribbon to see where the last widget you used has moved to, instead of instinctively moving the mouse to that out-of-vision area where it last appeared.

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Re: @H4rm0ny

OMG it has a minimize button! Thanks Shel!!

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Open Arms

Much as I hate to see Sinofsky go, Larson-Green is a fine replacement. The ribbon is a triumph. OK - it took some getting used to (about 8 hours of use), but once learned it is phenomenally better than the outdated menus in 2003. Same for Metro - I have a surface and an iPad and the Windows 8 UI wins hands down.

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FAIL

Re: Open Arms

I did a 4 year honours degree in Civil Engineering where I was forced to use the ribbon, and hadn't mastered it by the end. Office 2003 at home, thank god.

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Pint

Re: Open Arms

From watching other people (as well as myself) it depends largely on whether your tasks match up with MS's idea of what tasks should be.

Mine never did, so I was always bouncing between at least three ribbons, switching between them on almost every operation. I therefore hated them (thus icon).

Other people only ever used one ribbon at a time, and thought they were fine. Hey ho.

I see above that the Office ribbon is now molestable into doing the task set I might need - that seems like a sensible thing. Next time I'm forced to sit in front of Office I shall spend my first half hour doing that.

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FAIL

Re: Open Arms

...but that's just you because all you do is jack around on a tablet and in Office, without doing anything meaningful - but the rest of us use *computers*, y'know and do *work* on them (I know, I know, it's way too un-cool for such a 'cool' person like you.)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Open Arms

You ACTUALLY joined today to post this dribble ?

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Silver badge

"Yes. Frustration at the fact that things move around and that the 'find' thingies are way over on the RH side."

Functionally no different to the find thingies being on the left-hand side however. Also, who doesn't use Ctrl+F yet considers themselves technically competent?

"Yes. Frustration at the amount of vertical real estate it takes up on a corporate 1366x768 laptop"

Set the Ribbon to "hidden". In this mode, you still have the tab menu headings so it's no more clicks than it would be to click on a menu heading and then have the drop-down menu appear. Yes you don't have the three rows of short-cut icons already available but then they took up the the same amount of vertical real estate as the Ribbon anyway. What's that? You could customize how many rows there were and what was on them? Actually you can do that with the Ribbon too.

"Breathes sigh of relief and starts Office 2003 and only uses Ribbon Encumbered versions for final formatting."

Don't forget the Werther's originals. ;)

"Good enough for you?"

Actually, I was expecting more ranting. Pleasantly surprised. Perhaps people have finally started accepting it. Next step, the Win8 Start Screen. ;)

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Accepted....

It was accepted a long time ago. Any techies with half a brain could navigate to things (or use a damn google search). Its years I wasted still showing people how find shit. It was a waste of my time. I not even sure your average user knows what the basic copy/paste commands are anymore, let alone bold, italic, and underline.

If all your doing is basic word items, I still suggest LibreOffice.

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Re: Accepted....

. I not even sure your average user knows what the basic copy/paste commands are anymore, let alone bold, italic, and underline

All of which are basically in exactly the same place they've always been, with the same icons and the same keyboard shortcuts. Not even a good troll.

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@h4rm0ny

What's that? You could customize how many rows there were and what was on them? Actually you can do that with the Ribbon too.

Actually that isn't true. I could reduce the number of rows to zero and have all the toolbar icons in columns on the sides of the screen. Mostly the only real complaint about the ribbon is that it's fixed across the top. I will say that Autodesk has done a superb job of implementing a ribbon as you can undock it from the top and drag it to be docked vertically along either edge or let it float which I find very handy when I have a second monitor. I would actually be very content if I could leave the ribbon open vertically along the edge and get back some vertical real estate.

Perhaps I should write MS a letter requesting the option of a vertical ribbon. Yes, and I think I'll format it to print out in landscape.

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Re: @h4rm0ny

I had forgotten that you could put the controls at the side in earlier versions.That is true.

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Anonymous Coward

Quote

Functionally no different to the find thingies being on the left-hand side however. Also, who doesn't use Ctrl+F yet considers themselves technically competent?

How about the 10% of the population who are frigging LEFT HANDED and use the mouse in that hand?

Doh!

These KB shortcuts are all fine and dandy for those who use a mouse/other pointy device with their right hand.

For the rest of us, it is far less hassle to use the mouse all the time.

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"How about the 10% of the population who are frigging LEFT HANDED and use the mouse in that hand?"

It seems odd to me that you are trying to use a mouse and keyboard shortcuts at the same time. I normally use keyboard shortcuts in order to avoid having to take my hands away from the keyboard.

I also frequently use a mouse left-handed (not at the moment as it's hard to find a left-handed trackball, however).

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Ribotro

"The fact she was behind the Ribbon and the Windows 8 Metro interface will not fill some folk with confidence"

What could possibly go wrong?

Whether or not the Ribbon and Not-Metro are technical triumphs of disruptive UI design, the reality is that a good majority of users hate them passionately.

That's not unusual for MS products (I'll just ignore the downvotes, because it's true, isn't it?) but when MS still had a de facto monopoly with Office and Windows, customer satisfaction didn't matter so much.

Now Windows is competing directly with Apple and Google in MoPho and TabletLand the monopoly isn't there any more.

So this is not a good time to be pissing off customers by trying to be 'creative.'

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Re: Ribotro

Ribbon and "metrosexual" are triumphs of insane design, where space-wasting pictures replace clean text-based interfaces. Both are a bad attempt to copy Apple's picture-heavy UI without quite getting it.

I've been using Office 2010 with the ribbon for a couple of years now and when I switch over to LibreOffice with the menu, it is a breath of fresh air. LO doesn't do everything right so I still end up needing MS Office, but I'm tempted to buy the third-party menu restorer.

The Win8 "make my PC look like a tablet" UI is absurd too. Happily there are several Start Menu add-ons available from third parties, so it may be possible to make it all go away. But somebody who thinks that this is progress is certainly leading MS in the wrong direction.

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Re: Ribotro

"Whether or not the Ribbon and Not-Metro are technical triumphs of disruptive UI design, the reality is that a good majority of users hate them passionately."

I doubt that a "good majority" of Office users actually feel particularly strongly one way or the other. The only place I see people get truly worked up about the Windows UIs is here and I would not judge El Reg forum commentators as a good barometer for popular opinion.

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Re: Ribotro

I'm in total agreement with you about Ribbon - I have to use MS Office with Ribbon for a customer and even after more than a year I am not comfortable with it and I have used MS Word on and off for over 20 years - Word 2 which mixed toolbars and menus was the best I've worked with.

I think Metro has some great ideas which if used sparingly would be part of a great UI but basing everything around it? The tiles are great for pairing back and summarising information. This would be great in a notification centre but plastering the screen with them is counterproductive.

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Re: Ribotro

I can live with ribbon in Office....never been a fan. What's more irritating for me is that Firefox and Opera have gone the same way, adding at least 1 extra click onto every. single. fucking. thing. that I do.

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Windows

Re: Ribotro

"I doubt that a "good majority" of Office users actually feel particularly strongly [about the ribbon] one way or the other. "

A few months back my old man was complaining vehemently about being given "new Windows" and how much he hates it.

I figured he must have been complaining about being shifted from XP to 7 (or god forbid Vista) but I eventually figured out that by "new Windows" he meant "new Office" and it was the ribbon he was railing against.

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Happy

Re:The only place I see people get truly worked up about the Windows UIs is here

Odd. Around three-quarters of my customers hate the ribbon. They're a mixture of ages, normal private individuals, in the main. Simple test: ask a Word 2003 / LibreOffice fan to do a Save As operation in Word 2007 / 2010 (yes, *I* know how to do it) and they give up after being utterly unable to find a File menu. It's all very well saying "just hold down Alt F in the usual way" or whatever, but most average users never knew the Alt method for accessing menus anyhow, so would be highly unlikely to stumble on this handy fix MS were good enough to retro-fit into the newer Office builds.

For the record I have several hundred customers, mostly private individuals I visit in their homes as part of my freelance consultancy biz. I think it's as good a cross-section of "ordinary" mortals as any other.

Curse Swiftkey's auto-spacing after commas, dang it!

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Re: Re:The only place I see people get truly worked up about the Windows UIs is here

I ought to add that I quite like the ribbon these days...

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protecting Ballmers sorry job

Hard to see this as anything more than a Ballmer pre-emptive strike. At one stroke he removes the most likely replacement for his job, but cements in place the Metro direction Windows has lurched in on his orders. Simultaneously protected his job and perpetuated the mistake that's going to kill MS.

Not that Sinofsky would have done anything to revert back to sanity, it really is just about Ballmer clutching desperately to his job.

Sinofsky may have shipped Win8 roughly on time, he didn't ship a finished version. With the excessive public testing this had I'm struggling to understand how rough it feels and how many annoying bugs it has. Watching it install 64 bit drivers that crash Win8 on 4Gb machines didn't even surprise me when it happened - if I could find working 2010 dated drivers WTF did MS include 2007 broken ones for?

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The beginning of the end of Microsoft as a technology company

Replacing technically capable managers with sales, marketing and user analysts is common in mainstream businesses.

Most CIOs come from sales backgrounds.

But when you do it to a technology company you begin the end of that technology company as a technology company.

Witness Apple. Under Jobs it did wildly succeed economically as a minimalist inspired artistic company, relying on other companies to provide the technology and pretty much only owning patents on visually artistic aspects of its products.

But Apple is an exception. Generally technology firms fail when they depart from the technology industry.

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As it goes..

I've had the Ribbon foisted on me with work and I really have tried but it still takes more mouse clicks than a traditional menu to do anything I want to do?

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Anonymous Coward

I went down to Comet.

No wonder they're going under. They're selling windows 8 machines. I'm not buying one.

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WTF?

shipped win7 on time

Wow that's some achievement considering the numerous changes between vista and win7. I mean at least 4 new wallpaper pictures. He's a modern day genius.

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Pint

File... Options... Select GUI...

It's really obvious that there should be one constant anchor that never disappears (except during media playback and similar, of course), and behind that is the option to select any of dozens of different GUI choices.

The stupidest mistake on Earth is Microsoft failing to realize that Windows 8 could have shipped with a half-dozen GUI options, from Windows 7 look-alike to Windows 8 Metro-for-morons to whatever else people might want.

Balmer needs to study the word "transition". Daft idiots.

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Silver badge

"Julie Larson-Green and Tami Reller is a boost for the empowerment of women at US tech companies."

Surely the more important factor is whether the appointment of these women will be a boost for their employers?

Or maybe we are looking at the begining of Carly Fiorina cycle of the sisterhood doing it for themselves to the detriment of the company that employs them?

Speaking of HP, how is that other paragon of virtue Meg Whitman going these days?

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"Or maybe we are looking at the begining of Carly Fiorina cycle of the sisterhood doing it for themselves to the detriment of the company that employs them?"

Oh give it a rest. Women make up less than 25% of senior management positions in the West and you see a female take-over in the appointment of one! And you make an argument that suggests more women will be to the detriment of the company. You think that people are selected because they are women. Insulting and offensive. Anyone who has made it that high in a company clearly has a lot of skills. If there were a bias in selection based on gender in place of ability, the fact that the majority of senior management are male suggests such a bias would be in favor of males, does it not?

Seriously, what idiot focuses on someone's gender rather than their career history and abilities?

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Seriously, what idiot focuses on someone's gender rather than their career history and abilities?

Harriet Harman?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Seriously, what idiot focuses on someone's gender rather than their career history & abilities?

So there are incompetent female managers and there are sexist female managers. Your point is ...?

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Anonymous Coward

...Windows 8 and its successor, Windows Next

Will Windows Next then be followed by Windows OS X?

It would seem that they are really determined in copying Apple!

<--- pretend that the joke icon hides behind the mask.

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Re: ...Windows 8 and its successor, Windows Next

I was wondering more when Jasper Fforde's lawyers would be getting on the phone.

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Anonymous Coward

The road ahead for Larson-Green is forked

Sorry, I completely misread the last word there. I thought for a moment you were predicting the future.

I need new glasses.

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How MS could've done ribbons without losing Toolbars

MS could've done ribbons while keeping toolbar users happy - design at www.nickhealey.com (with interactive wireframe to play with) - can I have her job? ;-)

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FAIL

Oh dear.......

....if she was responsible for Notro AND the Ribbon, it is all going to be downhill.

I give her 6 months during which the sales of Windows 8 do not meet Salesman Ballmer's expectations and she is given the boot.

If Microsoft had given users SWITCHABLE options: Ribbon or Drop-down, Metro tiles or REAL Windows, then users would accept it. Enterprise customers don't want it - the training costs are horrendous when you have fundamental changes like these.

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