back to article Microsoft wraps Windows 8 in Ribbon UI?

Microsoft could be taking a chance by making Windows 8 look more like Office 2007, if some leaked screenshots are the real deal. The alleged screenshots of Microsoft's successor to Windows 7 reveal an unfinished Ribbon UI - based on a concept Microsoft first introduced with Office 2007 in November 2006. The UI could replace …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Please, in the name of humanity, don't do this.

    For those of us who use computers professionally, the ribbon is a disaster.

    1. Criminny Rickets

      No Squared

      Even for those that don't use computers professionally, the ribbon is a disaster.

    2. Paul_Murphy

      I agree.

      Can you imagine the telephone conversation:

      'Just click the the third icon down - it looks like a crow*.. just hover the mouse over it.. yes that's the one'

      And if the ribbon is context sensitive they will keep changing around as well, and I bet there won't be an option to turn off the icons and just have text buttons.

      Could _this_ be the end of windows?


      *I don't care what the icons actually look like - and I don't intend to have to learn them either.

    3. alis

      Absolutely hate "the ribbon"

      Please no. Even if you don't want to use WIndows you pretty much have to - so is there a petition we can sign? Anything to stop this.

    4. Bassey

      Re; No

      "For those of us who use computers professionally, the ribbon is a disaster."

      Nice of you to speak on my behalf - except that it isn't true. Surely those of us who use computers "professionally" use keyboard shortcuts for most stuff so don't give a crap if something is in menus or not. If there is something I'm not familiar enough with to know its keyboard shortcut, the ribbon makes it easier to hunt for than several layers of nested menus.

      Anyway, Windows 7 has gone most of the way towards Ribbons. All the apps use it (photo gallery, the video editor, DVD authoring, write pad etc). It makes sense for the rest of the OS to go the same way.

      Honestly, there is no group in the world worse than IT for "We don't like change".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The author has asserted his right not to use a title

        "Anyway, Windows 7 has gone most of the way towards Ribbons. All the apps use it (photo gallery, the video editor, DVD authoring, write pad etc). It makes sense for the rest of the OS to go the same way."

        All the built in apps use it. You know, the ones that get replaced by a more professional version by those who use them a professionally. The ones everybody hates because of their beribboned badness.

        Anyway it's the one that you don't use all the time that suffer most from a new UI because you can't remeber all the keyboard short cuts.

        1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

          1. Andy 18
            Gates Horns


            Aha - the tried and tested "if you don't like it you must be old and scared of change" gambit. I counter that with the "You are too young to know any better" defence and raise you a "Shiny toys for little boys" taunt.

            Personally I find the ribbon UI has all the bad points of that damned paperclip as far as guessing (badly) what I might be trying to do while also taking vast amounts of screen space for no useful reason.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              minimise the ribbon

              Every ribbon (should) have implemented a minimise function (right click on the ribbon, then select minimise), so it only takes up "vast" amounts of screen space if you want it to.

              Of course if you are too old and scared to read about how new stuff works then you wouldn't know this

              1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

            2. Christian R. Conrad
              Thumb Up

              Andy 1, A C 0

              BTW, Andy, did you know that kids nowadays apparently are incapable of comprehending black-and-white films and television? It appears their brains and eyes just can't absorb any information out of monochrome media, somewhat like frogs that only can percieve a fly if it's moving.

              Personally, I'm not surprised if a generation weaned on ever louder TV commercials (and MTV, "reality TV", etc -- all doing their best to copy the commercials) actually _need_ the garish ribbon crap to find their way around.

              Another thing that actually surprises me a little (though I suppose it shouldn't, given how par for the course it is for stupidity to emanate out of Redmond) is how in a world where screen proportions are getting ever wider in relation to height -- i.e, ever lower in relation to width -- and where everybody is still writing mainly portrait-oriented documents, software makers like Microsoft _insist_ on squandering screen height by putting their damned "ribbons" (and/or eleventy-twenty toolbars) horizontally _above_ your content, squashing it into ever more of a letterbox-slit view, while simultaneously squandering acres of empty-as-a-desert screen real-estate to either side. WTF's up wid dat, mon?

          2. CD001


            The problem with the ribbon bar is that it's constrained by the width of the screen in a way that dropdowns aren't - dropdowns can have multiple scrollable sub-menus so you're never really constrained and it's much easier to scroll up and down (with the rolly-wheel) than it is left and right - it's a vertical menu structure.

            Ribbons are a horizontal menu structure - open Word and constrain the width and you'll notice the ribbon effectively turns into just a dual layer of dropdowns. Ribbons work best when you've got a LOT of horizontal screen; they make more sense as monitors have been moving to widescreen format - on an older 4:3 monitor, not so much.

            Still, both formats can suffer from "where the hell did they put that" syndrome. In Word's ribbon interface it just seems that Macros have been munged into "View" - they don't really belong there but that's where they were before in older versions of Word (IIRC).

            As for web browsers minimising their impact on the amount of screen usage - if you've not used Opera before - try and find where they've buried Dragonfly (seriously, "Developer Tools" should be a top level menu item)... that's how to confuse vertical menus - FF4 ain't much better.

          3. Fluffykins Silver badge

            I comment thus, in an exciting new format:

            change accepting of incapable be must you then it like don't you if Obviously, format. new a in comment a provide I'd thought just I

            1. Shadowmanx2009
              Thumb Up


              I Like!

        2. Ammaross Danan

          @AC 10:12

          "All the built in apps use it. You know, the ones that get replaced by a more professional version by those who use them a professionally."

          Yes, and Windows Explorer has quite the number of "more professional" versions that can replace it too. Will we? Not likely.

  2. JarekG
    Thumb Down

    I hate Ribbon UI

    I hate Ribbon UI in office, so I guess Windows 7 will be my last OS from Microsoft.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Win 3.1

      I remember all the people who hated the 95 interface when that was released. Pretty much all of them switched it off and used the old, far less functional, 3.11 interface. It was the same with the XP interface and the Vista/7 interface.

      What is it about people who work in IT being so resistent to change? It's always spun as the old way is better, when more often than not it's a case of not wanting to learn something new. Which is odd, considering the speed at which IT moves.

      1. Helldesk Dogsbody

        That would be the point

        "considering the speed at which IT moves" - that would be precisely the point. There's enough change that you simply HAVE to learn to keep up that changing anything unnecessarily becomes an annoyance. Add on top of that the typical technophobic user response and you end up picking up a similar approach.

        I don't like the ribbon interface as it seems unnecessary to me and I dread changes to the Windows interface as you can guarantee my phone will go millisseconds after a new system is put in with a user wailing "WAH! I can't find anything!" before it's even finished booting.

      2. JEDIDIAH

        Are you kidding?

        Win 95 was universally hailed as an improvement over Windows 3.1 in pretty much every way including the desktop shell. In fact, there were 3rd party add-ons for Windows 3.1 to make it more like what would eventually be Windows 95.

        Although there's no good reason that legacy UIs can't remain available for those that actually like them. This sort of nonsense isn't about making the product better but artificially creating some reason for new sales.

        The word processor is an OLD problems.

        Artificial bother is what IT people complain about. Bother is something that you should choose yourself to engage in because it adds some value for you, not just because the relevant monopolist needs to milk it's cash cow.

      3. JarekG

        "What is it about people who work in IT being so resistent to change"

        Maybe they just want to do their job instead of learning new crap every year?

        Call me stupid, but once I set my desktop the way I want, it makes my job much more enjoyable.

        I don't want to spent the next few months learning how to make my new desktop look like the old one (you know the one that I like).

        I try that with office and I hated it to the point that I downgraded it.


        Yes I do have windows classic look on all my windows editions.

    2. CD001

      Ribbon UI

      makes more sense on a 1920 x 1080 monitor

  3. hendersj

    First link is dead

    That was fast....they "destroyed the server"? Really?

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Thank you Ray Ozzie

    "Windows 8 file synching and sharing with the web will be baked in, with icons for "sync" and "share" on display in the shots. Why are they there? It's unclear."

    Not too unclear to me - he might not have executed very well (so goes the version of his demise at Microsoft that rang the truest to me) but it doesn't really seem much of a mystery to me... just look at Groove if it even exists anymore... when you see "share and sync" at Microsoft you can be sure Ray's fingerprints are still there. Thank you Ray, we miss you!

    Regarding Ribbon, since I don't have anything nice to say... GRRRRR

  5. blodwyn
    Thumb Down

    Same pig, different lipstick

    Nuff said

  6. Anonymous Coward

    i like it

    say what you want, but the old shortcuts still work with the ribbon ui and the ribbon ui looks great. i prefer it, things are more logically grouped, even though rarely used things are hard to find. wouldn't mind to have it on w8

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: say what you want, but...

      "the old shortcuts still work with the ribbon ui and the ribbon ui looks great."

      Er, great, except that those keyboard shortcuts don't appear in the new UI at all and MS aren't selling the old version of Office anymore.

      Obviously if they were then I *would* buy 2 copies of Office only to chuck one of them in the bin after I'd memorised it... Who wouldn't?

      1. Magnus_Pym

        In the olden days

        Boxed CP/M or DOS software came with 'reminder cards'. Credit card sized printed sheets with a note of all the useful function keys and shortcut combo's used by the software. Perhaps Office should come with some of these in the box.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Mixed views

    When the ribbon first came out I hated it. With a vengeance. I've been a power user of MS Office since I moved from WP6.2 in the late 90s. I was always the person who used obscure features of the package and who people in the office came to for help. The ribbon just seemed like something that hides stuff that you knew where it was before.

    I still think the ribbon has its flaws, but I'm no longer a hater. I was recently working on a document which contains loads of mathematical formulas. I had been working on the document in a pre-ribbon version of the software and I'll be honest it was a bit of a nightmare. I started using Office 2010 and it was really really easy to use it. The ribbon does have a place, but you definitely need to think a bit differently in order to use it.

    Oddly enough, the shrink wrapped software that I used to be the lead architect for started using something like a ribbon interface in 2003/4 (before I joined the firm). I insisted on moving away from that interface because our users hated it. I don't think our ribbon was as well designed as the MS ribbons have become, but still it is a sobering lesson.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mixed views

      They redid the formula editor for Office 2k7 and it's much better but that has very little to do with the ribbon. Could have basically been the same with a new pane at the side or a nicer toolbar.

  8. Watashi
    Thumb Up

    Yay ribbons!

    Hmmm. When I have to use a computer with Office 2003 installed on it, I feel like I've stepped back in time about fifteen years. Office 2010 compared to Office 2003 is kinda like the difference between Windows 7 and Windows 95. I've been using a Windows shell replacement for years because Explorer is so woefully under-powered. Adding a shed-load of extra functions may dismay the easily confused, but for those of us who have the ability to learn new tools it's going to be great. Why the hell didn't MS do this sooner!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      I agree

      Just because somebody gets used to bad design, eg: Office 2003, it doesn't become good design. I think some people resent the loss of their 'investment' in learning to use crap tools when something better comes along, eg: "Flint were good enough for yer dad and yer grandad. We don't want none of this fancy bronze in our village. What'll happen to our traditional skills? It's madness!"

  9. Anonymous Coward

    its bathwater, throw it out

    I thought this ribbon crap would start to go away with Ray Ozzie gone.

    As a long time user, I already find the Windows Explorer in Win7 to be inferior to the previous version (yes I meant to include the Vista version).

    Maybe the could produce two UIs, one for the loyal user base and a different one for the people that MS seems to think would prefer a different OS.

  10. Allicorn

    Title schmitle

    The ribbon is an abomination.

    Give us Clippy instead, please, anything but that!

  11. mr-tom

    Polishing the turd

    Proverbs 26:11

    As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool repeats his folly

    1. hplasm Silver badge

      You can't polish a turd-

      But you can wrap a ribbon around it!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I thought it was "s drunk returns to the bottle?"

  12. IR


    Microsoft purchased Canesta? Did they have a yeast infectio?

  13. JP19


    Looks like Win 8 is going to be another ME/Vista.

    I only just stumbled across ClassicShell to replace the f**k awful Win 7 start menu and fix some of Explorer's horridness.

  14. Jason Hall

    new to learn?

    "The only problem is that the Ribbon UI has upset a lot of users and partners since its introduction, because it changed the familiar Office interface and gave them something new to learn."

    No. The ribbon interface didn't upset people because it gave them something new to learn - it upset people becuase it was very badly implemented and is very annoying to use.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Thumb Down


      The thing that annoys me about the ribbon is that it seems like every time I want something it's on different bloody tab. That means an extra mouse click that I didn't use to have. I used to configure the tool bar so it had everything I wanted. I got it down to a single row of buttons. That put everything within a single mouse move/click.

      I *think* that might be possible again with Win 2k10 based on a play a year ago but sadly my company has yet to roll it out so I haven't had time for a decent investigation.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    They look like crap in most of those pictures, but if you minimize them, then ribbons act just like menus, except with big icons. Certainly looks like overkill for a program that's not supposed to take up much screen space. But does make sense for touchscreens. Especially considering a lot of those functions are "hidden" on the right click menu.

    It's nice to see the "Move to Folder" tool finally getting some love.

    I just hope they fix the tree so that it will scroll horizontally again.

    Current link is:

  16. Goffee

    How many metaphors?

    So, they want a desktop interface , a tablet touch interface, some ribbony thing and to add all the stuff that got left of Windows 7 - big ask...


  17. Jolyon Smith

    Knee Jerk = RIBBON !? NOOOOOoooooooooooo........ but...

    The Ribbon UI per se is not "bad" - for crying out loud, it's just a toolbar by another name, with some additional context sensitive adjustments and sophisticated grouping.

    However, there are good and bad implementations of the Ribbon UI.... even within Office, the Word ribbon is pretty good, with some caveats, the Excel ribbon is frustrating, with even more caveats, and the PowerPoint ribbon just plain sucks. Outlook uses the ribbon only in some areas, and largely does a pretty good job with it.

    So the question is, how well will the ribbon implementation be in Windows 8 ?

    + it appears to be the incorporating of ribbon on Windows [File] Explorer specifically, rather than some hard core, intrinsically enforced ribbon across the *entire* UI.

    Calm down folks....

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: not "bad" - for crying out loud

      "The Ribbon UI per se is not "bad" - for crying out loud, it's just a toolbar by another name, with some additional context sensitive adjustments and sophisticated grouping."

      Toolbar = waste of space. If I need to navigate a UI, then hovering over each graphic and waiting for the tooltip to tell me what it looks like is at least one order of magnitude slower than reading text.

      Context sensitive adjustments = it's moved since the last time you hunted it down, so start again, hovering over the graphics and waiting for the tooltips.

      Sorry, but as a piece of interface design, the toolbar can only really be understood as a deliberate attempt at pessimisation.

  18. Pen-y-gors Silver badge
    Gates Horns

    Just say NO to Ribbon UIs

    >It was first introduced by Microsoft to make it easier to find features buried in the depths of long menus of Office.

    ... and to make it impossible to find features previously easily accesible from straightforwrd, simple, logical menus

    Recently got a copy of Office 2010 - productivity seriously reduced. Time to switch back to OOo

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    even risker

    MS staying status quo is even riskier. Even though I'm sure there will be some unhappy people the most unhappy would be MS when Windows 9 came about and they finally realized though large market share loss that no one wants an antiquated UI. People who hate the idea (without even seeing it in action no less) are likely scared of change in general. Ms needs to shake things up in the next go around as people's primary devices will move to tablets and touch display laptop and desktops.

    1. Fluffykins Silver badge

      Antiquated UI or shiny new UI?

      I don't give a shit. I just want somehting I can use effectively.

      And Office 2k7 isn't

    2. Anonymous Coward


      Yeah, the ribbon's the way to go for professional computer users. That's why it's all over the Linux world. Learn to use your goddamned software and you won't need fluff like this.

  20. thecakeis(not)alie

    Well, that decided that.

    That’s a lovely little nail in the coffin. As if the licensing costs/obscene complexity, vendor lock-in, horrific lack of interoperability and terrible lag on basic features weren’t enough, now they want to foist that monstrosity of a UI on the core operating system?

    Straight to hell. No passing go, no picking up your 200 chits.

    100% of the software budget for the next 5 years will now officially be devoted to bribing my two recalcitrant software vendors to port to Java. (The other three have already done so!) Immediately afterwards, I will be binning the entire stack of Microsoft software, top to bottom. Looks like Windows 7/Server 2008 R2-gen will be my last go at the Microsoft stack.

    Red Hat, I’m all yours! Let’s do this Enterprise IT thang, shall we?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    "Same pig, different lipstick"

    And that pig'll fly the day Microsoft makes some serious innovation, instead of rehashing the same old Windows 95 UI.

    1. The Alpha Klutz

      "rehashing the same old Windows 95 UI."

      At least someone put some careful thought and consideration into making the Windows 95 UI a genuine improvement over 3.1

      And it worked dammit. Nobody was complaining that they "liked Windows 3.1 better". Because that's what an improvement is, changing something to make it BETTER. Not just changing it to make it different.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns


    Guess we had better put some work into getting ReactOS production ready.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    I haven't liked a Windows UI

    ...since 95 came out. No really, I hate the Start Menu paradigm, always have. The Ribbon was an abomination that should never have seen light of day in Office, and should be buried back deep in a cave somewhere instead of being slapped onto Windows. I'll keep my OpenOffice and Linux, thankyouverymuch, and feck this Microsoft crap. If this doesn't completely kill Windows on the desktop (Vista very nearly succeeded in this effort) then I will have completely lost my faith in humanity.

    Yeah, the penguin. Suck it.

  24. Spanners Silver badge

    Introduced by Microsoft to make it easier?

    No. The ribbon was introduced as a product differentiator. What from? Why Open Office...

    Open Office, looks like a word processor/spreadsheet/etc. Nobody can copy the patented MS Office Ribbon so they remain unique. At least, that was the idea.

    It is a bit like the g**awful slot that Intel introduced for the pentiumII way back when. The idea was to have an uncopiable form factor. Instead they ended up with CPUs that wouldn't fit well or even fell out when you stood the PC on its side. Intel CPUs seem to have returned to the pin-socket style. Hopefully Microsoft will drop this stunningly stupid idea too.

  25. Gary F

    Why do we need Windows 8 anyway?

    Windows 7 is okay, just keep fixing the bugs and release minor new features in service packs, as per SP1. What could they possibly put in Win8 that would make people upgrade (again)? Certainly NOT a ribbon.

    I actually prefer Windows Explorer in XP than in Vistra or Win7.

    1. Paul_Murphy

      You're missing the point

      It's not what a new OS will do for you - it's the money it will bring in to Microsoft.

      Each generation of OS is designed to die and use of it discouraged - the only exception on the Microsoft side was XP, when the tablet format came out and it became obvious that they couldn't run Vista, Microsoft generously/ worriedly extended it's lifespan.


  26. Mr Anonymous

    normal operations resumed

    windows, cpu cycles got cheaper so they wasted megahertz. memory got cheaper so they wasted megabytes. hard disks got massive so they wasted gigabytes. now screens are bigger they're wasting pixels. if it looks like a pile of shite and it smells like a pile of shite, it is a pile of shite.

    1. borkbork

      agree with all, except the screens

      The average vertical pixel height is shrinking, especially on laptops. Before all this widescreen madness, an average display had 1024 vertical lines. Now we're lucky to get 768. If MS are determined to foist the ribbon on people, perhaps they could allow the option to move it to the left of screen rather than the top. Better that than peeking at the visible sliver of your documents between the ribbon at the top of screen and the (also widening) taskbar at the bottom.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge


        "The average vertical pixel height is shrinking, especially on laptops. "

        I'd be amazed if "laptops" ever featured in the design discussions that led to the ribbon. It is *clearly* designed for screens that are measured in yards.

        Microsoft just don't *do* small screens. They looked like startled rabbits when the first netbooks appeared and only survived by giving XP a third life (the second being the Longhorn Reset). They've yet to produce a usable phone/device OS.

  27. Fluffykins Silver badge

    FFS! The Office 2k7 ribbon is painful enough!!!

    After the sheer pain that was - and is, even many months down the line - the Office 2k7 ribbon then please, please tell me this is all a horrible dream.

    If MS really, really thinks the Ribbon UI is really desirable, then why not offer it as a downloadable add-on for people who like to think they are geeks and who don't give a shit about productivity.

    If the ribbon is so good, the servers will be swamped with people downloading it.

    Just like Yahoo toolbars are readily downloaded by all and sundry.

    If I want half my screen covered in useless crap, I'll just get a wad of postit notes and use them.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh jesus...

    The Office ribbon leaves me completely frustrated. I end up on Google searching for where the fuck something is, taking minutes to do something that was previously quick and intuitive. It causes a glitch in my thought processes and reduces my productivity. I sincerely hope that the concept does not find its way into Windows itself. If it does, expect Google to make a big play for the "it just works" angle on Chrome OS.

    1. G_C


      Totally agree...

      The work I produce is the full focus of my attention... that is where I need to concentrate,,, this is where my deadlines are... this is where I am measured...

      I don't want to be distracted by having to figure out tools that up until then I didn't even have to think about and therefore reduced to PC illiteracy...

      They need to stop trying to reinvent the wheel!

    2. Aramando
      Thumb Down


      It's been 4 years since Office 2K7 came out and I STILL find that I have to stop and consciously think how to get to features that I would have instinctively known which menu to look in before. How long am I supposed to keep trying to readjust for?!

  29. John 179

    I'm Sad

    I used to LOVE Office. Then they put in the ribbon UI and I was so frustrated, I was forced to switch to OpenOffice just so I could get my work done in a reasonable amount of time.

    If Windows forces us (I don't mind the option, but I do mind being forces) to use the Ribbon UI, I'm pretty sure I'll be switching OS's. Not sure what I'd switch to but there are plenty to choose from.

  30. theSensibleGeek

    What's the big deal?

    I'm not sure why folks are making a big deal about ribbons. It's basically the same thing as the old dropdown menus except you don't have to go through those silly nested menus, and the last "menu" you clicked on stays active after you click it, which is nice for doing things repeatedly.

    While yes, I had to learn where they had put stuff, the usage pattern really isn't all that different.

    Folks that have smoke coming out their ears seem to just be anti-learn something new.

    The same backlash happened when MS went from the 3.1 interface to the 95 interface, and again when they changed the default start button look at feel in XP. And yet, all those changes have ultimately proved (in my own usage) to be positive changes.

    So suck it up, tech weenies, and embrace the madness!

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      You want to know why I hate the ribbon?

      Look at this:

      So, where's my bloody document?

      When I want to save/print/do other file-type stuff to my document, Micosoft have unilaterally decided that their user interface is MORE IMPORTANT than my work. You know, the work I'm paid to do, the work I' m measured by, the work that my computer and this program is supposed to assist me with.

      Instead, Microsoft deliberately hide my work from me at the moment my work is most vulnerable - I didn't save it yet, or I want to print it. I now *have* to go via Print Preview just in case I've got the wrong one of the many open documents active.

      On top of that, I no longer have any idea where some features are. The ones that I don't use all that often, that used to be sat in a menu somewhere but greyed out much of the time.

      And finally, I've lost a massive amount of screen real estate. All laptops and most monitors are widescreen these days.

      The Ribbon either collapses so I really have *no* clue where anything is - and then hides part of my document when I want to do something to it - or is huge and means I can't see much of my document.

      I've noticed that a lot of people are now using widescreen monitors in Portrait to get around this - that doesn't work for laptops though, does it?

    2. Geoffrey Swenson

      False Equivalence

      It has nothing to do with learning something new. The ribbon interface is simply not very functional. Menus take up less space, and can be browsed in entirety by a power user in about fifteen seconds. The way the ribbon forces you to click into dropdowns that hide functions makes this discovery process take at least several minutes of tedious clicking, and it is only aggravated by the thoroughly nonsensical structure of the ribbon bar.

      I have had jobs to produce professionally-formatted technical documents with lots of tables and graphics using Word, so you are completely wrong if you think I don't know what I'm talking about.

      The ribbon is an abomination. You have to get used to it, and it never, ever makes the work more efficient.

  31. ColonelClaw
    Thumb Down

    The Ribbon is for dribbling village idiots

    There's two reasons why I hate the Ribbon:

    It takes me longer to find what I want to do, which kind of defeats the point of having it.

    It consumes vast quantities of precious vertical screen space leaving me staring at a letterbox-sized workspace. Now that we all have widescreen aspect monitors, why aren't main UI componants placed on the sides?

  32. Joe Cincotta
    Thumb Down

    I need ribbons in my UI like I need a second sphincter on my ass

    Seriously, Microsoft has lost its way. They are being smashed by Apple, Ubuntu and - well - pretty much everyone for better UI. Ribbon is icing on the cake. Seriously, I will just go back to using Geos on my Commodore 128. It's a nicer experience.

  33. Geoffrey Swenson

    Why not throw the whole thing out and start over?

    I wouldn't say that Winword was ever quick and intuitive, but the ribbon interface only makes it worse. For just one example, table functions are split into at least two completely unrelated categories.

    Furthermore, you can no longer quickly drag the mouse across a menu to find some feature you need. You actually have to click into each item, then drag down arrows, and so on, all of which wastes great gobs of time. By the time I actually find the function I'm looking for, I've lost the mental context to quickly complete the task.

    On top of the menu problems, right click actions for selecting table cells paragraphs and text are all broken. It takes several attempts to click in exactly the right way to get an appropriate context menu to come up. All of this makes a program that never was exactly a joy to use so much worse than it was before.

    The only thing that saves M$ is that Open Office is so riddled with killer bugs that it is practically unusable. Maybe it is time to look at Word Perfect again.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    yes but

    firstly, this isnt even alpha release status, its a mile stone, we have no idea what is going to come out of all of this, but one thing i will say with ribbon is that you can effectively remove it giving you more of an IE9 feel throughout windows, this i would welcome, of course you can do this on teh old style drop downs as well but the ribbon is much more customizable, so for what its worth, the ribbon idea actually might work out quite well IF it makes it easy for users to fiddle more an more with the UI, and doesnt force us in to have to use it their way.

    As for the ribbon on office, its grown on me, but because i dont use it day in day out it does take me longer to do the "out side of the box" functions, simply because i have to find it, but as for every day functions its much easier when you get teh hang of it

    What i think is more intresting is the obvious links to WP7 and xbox, i said this a while back, if MS can keep common themes across its software OS range it will make it much more appeling to every day joes out there. Im really likeing where windows is heading as long as they dont nurf advanced options in the process, i like having full control thanks and as much as i like the new style UIs i want to keep the power user stuff within reach! Virtual folders are great, but i still want access to the parent locations thanks!

  35. AndrueC Silver badge

    There may be hope

    A year or so ago I got the chance to try Office 2k10 for an internal development project. It appeared that - unlike 2k7 - the ribbon was configurable enough to allow you to effectively reduce it to a single panel. I think I actually got something that was close to the original Office 95 in terms of convenience.

    So as long as Win8 offers that level of configuration we might be able to change the UI back to something like Win7. Or maybe even XP.

  36. Adam T

    The worst is yet to come

    Putting it on the desktop is bad enough, but once it's in the framework then will developers start putting it into their own applications, and the pain will just get worse.

    Don't think it'll happen? Autodesk added a Ribbon to 3DS Max a couple years ago, and you just have to look at their forums to see what users think of it. Fucking awful, eats screen estate, it slows down redraws, it actually means *more* clicks not less to get where you want - and customisable just means you're lost as soon as you sit at a computer that you don't own.

    Apple going out of their way to simplify OS X, Microsoft going out of their way to over-complicate Windows.

    Perhaps in the future, everyone will just use a Terminal window. That is, if they haven't forgotten how to use a keyboard.

  37. Sartori

    Bit early to condemn it don't you think?

    Stunned at how quick people are to leap in and shout about how crap it looks and that's it I'm never buying another windows!!!

    Consider just how early the UI development stage is at, and how this is likely to go through radical changes before release anyway. If you think about it, it's easy to see what they have done, making everything bigger which had to be done for touchscreens and then some rough ideas based on what they already know how to do (ribbon interface) and sent it off to selected partners like HP etc to get feedback before developing further. Based on the responses from the big partners this will no doubt change a lot over time. What they have done so far makes perfect sense, it's an easy and obvious starting point but that doesn't mean it will look anything like that upon release.

  38. stucs201

    Oh great, another backwards step

    I'm not actually surprised. They already messed up the start menu to have an unclear representation cramed in the corner, instead of using the space available like the previous cascading menu did. Can't see why except to fit it on to the titchy screens of tablets. This looks to be more of the same.

    The ribbon is a reasonable alternative to the toolbar, but its a lousy replacement for a menu. And it takes up too much space, even on a large display (especially annoying on a two monitor setup, old-school toolbars could be moved to the second display to provide maximum working area).

    A Fischer price UI might well be needed for tablets, but some of us still have proper computers and need a proper UI.

  39. Anonymous Coward


    That is all.

  40. /\/\j17

    Give Me Back My Sodding Screen Real Estate!

    Oh for the love of God, why?

    Why does every UI designer these days seem to think taking over more and more of the screen with UI lint is a good thing?

  41. Anonymous Coward

    WELL #IF' They are real

    Does anyone else think it's reminds them in a tangible way of windows 3.x type program grouping

  42. h4rm0ny

    I like the ribbon

    What a bunch of neophobes there are here. The ribbon is very easy and intuitive to use. It took almost no time to learn and is usually quicker to do something with than the menu system. The hysterical reactions here are absurd. I think anyone who states that the ribbon is difficult to use... well, I think they really need to reassess their own IT competence.

  43. Anonymous Coward

    How many

    I would love to know how many of the whining commentards will actually ditch Windows to learn an entire new OS and file system rather than learn how to use some new part of an existing UI?

    Maybe El Reg could check out the user agent strings? I'm sure there must have been a similar story 6 months ago that resulted in a similar outpouring of "oh noes, new stuff!, how dare they, I'm leaving Microsoft for eva!!!!111!!1"

    1. Aramando

      Two points...

      1) It's more a case of the straw that broke the camel's back. Lots of us are already frustrated with Windows and tempted by one of the alternatives, and only need a relatively minor push to finally make that break

      2) You assume it's merely a case of learning a new UI element, and that after that has taken place there will be no problem. But I've now had 4 years of using the ribbon in Office 2K7 (admittedly at home only, we're still on 2K3 at work - I wonder why!), and it still actively hampers my productivity when using Office apps. The point is that if this is introduced there is a good chance that it will cause a permanent impairment to the efficient use of Windows to those who don't get on with it.

  44. liquidphantom
    Gates Halo

    Great news

    I like the ribbon, so much faster to use than trawling through several drop down and branching menus.

    I can't see what problem people have with changing. If we are restricted to using the same interface for all time, advances will become increasingly difficult.

    Time to adapt people and catch up with new tech rather than being stuck in the windows 3.1 days.

  45. jai

    a ribbon to hang themselves with

    Ribbon will ensure that no one ever upgrades to W8 and will instead increase the market share for Linux, OS X, GoogleOS and whatever else is out there that is at all useable.

    [slow claps for Mirco$oft]

  46. Paul 135

    I LOVE the Ribbon, but NOT in Windows Explorer

    There are many people here just bashing the ribbon, full stop. These people are fools because Microsoft will simply ignore the complaints of such entirely negative people. The ribbon is an EXCELLENT piece of UI, but ONLY for large complex pieces of software with many menus and toolbars like Office.

    HOWEVER, the ribbon UI does NOT work for simpler pieces of software for the following reasons:

    -adds a lot of distracting and ugly clutter to your screen

    -the clutter above only confuses new users

    -takes up an excessive amount of vertical screen space

    -unnecessarily partitions functions into dubiously an unintuitively named tabs. The "home" tab, for example, is non-descriptive and entirely dependent on the user knowing in advance what it contains.

    Please Microsoft, do NOT ruin Windows Explorer by adding a ribbon. You ruined the likes of Windows Live Photo Gallery by doing so and making it much more complicated than it needed to be. Instead, please enhance the context-sensitive toolbar that is found in Windows Explorer in Windows 7.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'm sitting here try to view those screenshots with an open subjective mind, but I keep running back to "that's fecking 'orrid"

    This said, I'm not really looking to fork out for another OS for a good five years. I doubt there will be enough changes in 8 to warrant an upgrade from 7, until for "compatibility reasons" IE10, DirectX or something doesn't work on Windows 7.

  48. doperative

    Microsoft Sub-Menus ...

    > The UI could replace the familiar menus and toolbars. It was first introduced by Microsoft to make it easier to find features buried in the depths of long menus of Office.

    I'm not impressed, all they've done is taken the main menus and sub-divided them into sub-menus. It does it make it easier for the complete newbie to do basic editing but I don't see how someone could speed-up their work flow using this Ribbon UI.

    Home: 50 menu items sub divided into 6 panels

    Insert: 24 menu items sub-divided into 7 panels

    Page-Layout: 25 menu items sub-divided into 5 panels

    References: 21 menu items sub-divided into 6 panels

    Mailing: 21 menu items sub-divided into 5 panels

    Review: 23 menu items sub-divided into 6 panels

    View: 23 menu items sub-divided into 7 panels

  49. maxillius


    Seriously, all of you people afraid of change and learning something new should go back to win 3.1, wordperfect 6 and the record player and let the rest of us move forward.

  50. Dave 62

    asking for it

    At the risk of sounding an utter twat, I actually find the Office 2007 ribbon fairly easy, aside from the fact that the damned print button is hidden under the "office" button rather than being on the home tab and the fact that things like table borders and fill colours are repeated on various tabs, with cells sometimes getting stuck with a fill colour which isn't set anywhere.. other than that it's all good, I'm not afraid of a simple UI change, it's no big deal and I don't know why people always have to whinge when something changes.

    Oh and yes I think it does speed up workflow. Particularly for things like citations, document reviews, table settings (no opening and closing dialogue boxes for this!). I'm all for hating on "M$" but.. eh, it works, mostly.

    Back in Windoze (lol, see, "doze", I'm hip) 98 I had multiple tool bars for different program groups, office type thingys, web design things, various games and associate modding tools, a/v players, a/v editors, media burn/rip. If I could have tabbed them I would. Actually tempted to see if I can do something like that to my XP now.. give myself multiple pseudo start- menus, who wouldn't like tabbed program groups? My start menu programs list fills half my lappy's screen at 1280x800.

  51. Random Noise

    I too know the pain of the ribbon

    As has been said countless times above changing to the Ribbon is a nightmare.

    I actually found something helpful on the M$ website tho:

    Half way down the page the 'Interactive Guides' are quite handy - its a wee flash program which displays the old 2003 toolbars. Click on the function you want & it shows you how to find the dammed thing in 2007 (May not be much use for 2010, I dunno).

  52. stucs201

    To those who can't see whats wrong with needlessly messing with the UI...

    ...would you want a car that came without a steering wheel and pedals just because someone thought they were a bit old-fashioned?

    (Beer icon? if you're going to crash your car at least have a cause other than someone moved the brake and you couldn't find it)

    1. Dave 62

      love to be hated

      Personally I find operating a motor vehicle using two thumbsticks and a bunch of buttons easy enough, or say.. handlebars, a front brake lever, clutch lever, rear brake pedal and a foot operated gear shift.

      There is a name for those who consider any new means of operating something a bad thing "Luddite".

      The ribbon is not hard, actually it's very fucking simple.

  53. irneb

    Ribbons, ribbons everywhere!

    I can't understand why everyone's so "upset" about the concept of ribbons. They're nothing new about them. I can think of several programs which used them since the 90's (e.g. Delphi). Jus look at a quick Google Image search:

    And then AFAIK the 1st "ribbon" concept was in Lotus123 for DOS:

    I also hated ribbons at the start. It took me 6 months in MSO2007 to stop having to search every time I wanted to do something. But once you get the spacial memory (as I also had to do with the menu structure of Word 6.0, since I previously used Ability Office) you find it works so much "easier". Though I still think fondly of Ability's keyboard centric menu structure.

    What I have against MSO's implementation of ribbons is its locked customizability. Another proggy I use is AutoCAD. When they introduced the ribbon in 2009 they also added a full-fledged customization to it. You can directly edit each tab / panel / button, add your own, combine with the existing, etc. You can even turn off the ribbon and turn the menubar back on, or have both on at the same time. The ribbon can even live freely together with toolbars if you so want. And you can move the "ribbon" as a floating toolbar, or dock it on the sides / bottom / top ... while also having it folded down to reduce screen wastage - and have it unfold with a mouse hover instead of a click.

    IMO AutoDesk did what M$ should have done. Instead of making a near Jobsian: "Our design or no design". They should have given the user the power to make with it is he/she pleases.

  54. doperative

    Withdraw one thumbs down :)

    Get off my case ...

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ctrl +F1

    I like the ribbon. As an IT guy its easier to teach someone else how to work a program. You can also customize it and make your own ribbons & commands. Lastly, if you don't like it just Ctrl +F1 and it hides the ribbon.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Not quite

      Unless you're a programmer and love working with XML you can't customise the ribbon in Offix 2k7. There is/was a utility one of their MSVP blokes wrote but you had to pay for it. As I noted in an earlier comment though Office 2k10 does provide proper ribbon customisation. Or did a year or so ago when I last played with it.

      1. Dave 62

        see icon



        mfw XML is "programming"


  56. doperative
    Thumb Up

    Can't customize the Ribbon

    I find their choice as to which-command-goes-where, curious. The inability to customize is also a major flaw.

    > The Ribbon, which is part of the Microsoft Office Fluent user interface, is designed to help you quickly find the commands that you need to complete a task. Commands are organized in logical groups that are collected together under tabs. Because each tab relates to a type of activity, such as writing or laying out a page, it is not possible to customize the Ribbon without using XML and programming code.

  57. Monty Burns

    so, Windows 8 NOT touch friendly then?

    Anyone with a touchscreen or tablet pc can tell you the ribbon in Office is NOT touch friendly and so i'm guessing Windows 8 isn' then if these are correct?

    So much for MS believing this is the way forward.....

  58. NoneSuch Silver badge

    Why is Microsoft Windows like Star Trek Movies???

    Every second release is crap...

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Wait a tick...

    Whats a ribbon? I just checked my Office Pro 2003 running on my WinXP Pro PC and could not find it.

    Am I missing a patch? hehehe

    Office 2003 does everything I need plus a little bit more. There is still support for it until 4/8/2014 and even when support ends IT WILL STILL WORK. When it no longer does what I want I will swap over to OpenOffice.

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Typical Microsoft

    Microsoft LOVES to make these sorts of problems for itself.

    The menus/toolbars/dialogs in Office became disorganized and crufty, and instead of fix the problems, they invent an all-new solution that is completely different and overly complicated, and then pat themselves on the back for coming up with something "revolutionary."

    It is sobering to think that Apple is almost universally hailed for its excellent Mac OS UI, and it has basically only made small evolutionary changes to said UI since 2001 (and an argument could be made for 1984).

    1. Magnus_Pym

      Shows how much Microsoft have improved.

      ...It used to be every third release.

      Windows 1 (tactical release only)

      Windows 2 (first real try, crap)

      Windows 3 (usable)

      Windows 95 (improved UI back end still shit)

      Windows 98 (network? what's a network?)

      Windows 98SE (usable)

      Windows ME (yuk) NT (half finished)

      Windows 2000 (Attempt at one size fits all)

      Windows XP (usable)

      Windows Vista (ugly. power mad)

      Windows 7 (UI 'improvements' looking for a problem)

      Windows 8 (might actually be good for something)

  61. John 62
    Jobs Halo

    ribbon v1 == FAIL; newer ones should be better

    The 2007 Office Ribbon was intriguing at first, but I hated it when I used it. 2010's looked much better when I saw it demoed, but I haven't used it yet. (Though 'backstage' in the 'File' menu seemed a bit too much for me in the demo: lots of great features, but too much of a context switch from changing an independent modal window into a complete change of window contents - worse than OS X's sheets when you want to see what's below a sheet without hitting ESC).

    But the ribbon is just a fancy toolbar. The success is in the implementation. Personally I think they should have ripped off iWork's inspectors, making better use of precious vertical screen space in today's crazy world of 16:9 nonsense (16:10 ftw!).

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