Definitely not offline Office, eh?
"...zero query search” that “will bring up recommendations powered by AI and the Microsoft Graph” as soon as you place a cursor in a search bar."
Microsoft has revealed a plan for a slow-moving upgrade of its Office suite’s user interface, with three new elements to start appearing at Office.com and in Office apps in coming months. The changes bring the “fluent design” concept Microsoft has adopted in other products to Office. The biggest change will see Redmond cut …
Changing the design of the ribbon "is like adding paper to a blocked toilet. Best possible outcome: you've still got a turd. Albeit disguised a little." (ok, that referred to Vista, but the ribbon is... shite, to put it kindly).
Go ahead: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/11/16/bofh_2012_episode_12/
You know you want to spend half the day browsing the archives ;)
Article: "cut its “Ribbon” toolbar from three lines to two"
How about cutting it to *ZERO* lines, and putting a *REAL* menu back? (and NO HAMBURGER BUTTON)
"like adding paper to a blocked toilet"
paper? you sure that's what they added? (it smells a LOT worse than paper)
"I actually enjoy the Ribbon Interface"
I'm with you here, the most common commands are always available muscle memory makes it very easy...
I never understood why people dont like it.. I undrstand that it might not be the best choice for all applications but for Office it is great.
Horses for courses.
People don't like because it pretty much destroyed their acquired keyboard shortcuts habit which allowed them to breeze through complex operations that they were used to doing.
Especially in Excel and probably Word as well.
The main issue with the Ribbon is that MS didn't bother providing it as an option and keeping the menu interface (and proper kb shortcuts) for those who were used to it. No, you had to change your ways.
For professionals who actually want to work with the products, it was quite frustrating and painful.
"People don't like because it pretty much destroyed their acquired keyboard shortcuts..."
OK I understand that people didn't like it when it was introduced, but come on!! It's over 10 years ago!! Anyone still harping on about it should really get a life. Anyone who has been using MS Office for just a couple of the intervening 10 years should long ago have become used enough to the new interface to breeze through work just like in the good old days, right? Unless they're dinosaurs unwilling to adapt
Nonsense, Jmch. Many, many people - as is their absolute right - refused to downgrade to the new, inferior UI (designed by the same brain-dead team which went on create the Windows 8 Metro disaster, as you know).
People stayed with the older Office versions for many years (because of their superior usability); other people switched to alternative software with a better UI (such as Libre Office for one, but there are others, and I probably should mention the Google products too here, though I can't say anything about their UIs 'coz I've never used them) and to this day do not use the damn ribbon. Other people again switched to or stayed with competing commercial products, notably Word Perfect and Quattro Pro.
Finally, it is not the customer's job to adapt. That's not how it works.
The rule is customer fella pay money, supplier fella adapt. Dat supplier fella's job. Dat why customer fella hand over heap big dollars, him boss. Supplier fella not try please customer, customer fella him bugger off, no pay money, supplier fella heap sorry.
> I never understood why people dont like it..
It wasn't the Ribbon per se that people didn't like, it was the way MS used it to replace menus (except on Macs where Apple's rules meant the menus had to remain).
Before the Ribbon came to Office, I'd used a ribbon-like Command Manager in a CAD package. The difference was that menus, customisable toolbars, and radial menus where still present, as well as keyboard shortcuts. The Command Manager was optional and could be repositioned - though it was pretty useful in its default spot. The user had complete control of the workspace. The other difference was that due other tool pallettes and windows, vertical screen space was at such a premium as it is in a word processor.
Also: why don't more applications use pie menus (aka Radial Menus)? They're quick, require little moving of the mouse, and work well with muscle memory.
[Also: why don't more applications use pie menus (aka Radial Menus)? They're quick, require little moving of the mouse, and work well with muscle memory.]
Until you change them, then people start printing instead of saving, or exiting instead of printing and all sorts of mischief at upgrade time. Muscle memory is not currently part of UI designers list of concerns as far as my experience goes.
This was an issue even 20 years ago with green screen services where people had got used to what option 6 did, then enter three times via defaults then option 2. An upgrade changed the menu options and multiple calls were made to repair data for a function that "didn't work anymore" as people did not even read the menu option text.
Roll on bringing muscle memory into the list of considerations...
"Muscle memory is not currently part of UI designers list of concerns as far as my experience goes."
AFAICS the only concerns are keeping up with fashion set by other designers or possibly being lucky enough to be amongst those who set the fashion.
Supplier fella not try please customer, customer fella him bugger off, no pay money, supplier fella heap sorry.
That's the theory. However, most software vendors have long ago learned three important things:
1) users are rarely choosers in the corporate world,
2) you can put in the retail channel what you want because even retail buyers value the perceived compatibility, even if they don't like aspects of the revised product.
3) And for the recidivists, you just mutter "support ends next week, upgrade or die".
The number of lost sales to Microsoft from unpopular, poorly conceived and ill advised changes is minimal in the context of the their wider market share, and that (sadly) shows up in the fact that their balance sheet is swilling $70bn of cash and liquid assets after netting off debt.
"People stayed with the older Office versions for many years (because of their superior usability); other people switched to alternative software with a better UI (such as Libre Office for one, but there are others, and I probably should mention the Google products too here, though I can't say anything about their UIs 'coz I've never used them) and to this day do not use the damn ribbon. Other people again switched to or stayed with competing commercial products, notably Word Perfect and Quattro Pro."
Yes, I am sure that many people who had the choice and the technical knowhow either stuck with old versions or switched to something else. However the market share of MS Office vs all other offices, and of new vs old MS Offices, show that those people are still in a small minority. The majority of people using Office do so either at their workplace where they have limited control of software provider and Office version, (which gets pushed by central IT), or as a package when buying a new PC, in which case they will get whatever version is given them.
"The rule is customer fella pay money, supplier fella adapt."
It is, in a normal market. Microsoft Office operates (even now, with all the Libre alternatives) in a quasi-monopolistic market. 10 years ago, even more so. And it's amusing if you think Microsoft Office's customers are private buyers or individual users of Office. The customers are those who pay large amounts for large volumes, meaning big corporations and specifically their mid-level IT managers, pointy-heads who are easily swayed by MS event presentations and shiny-shiny rather than by the concerns of their users.
Please note I'm not saying that MS was right to introduce the ribbon, nor am I arguing about which is the superior interface. I'm saying the world has moved on and there's no point flogging a dead horse.
Yes, I am sure that many people who had the choice and the technical knowhow either stuck with old versions or switched to something else. However the market share of MS Office vs all other offices, and of new vs old MS Offices, show that those people are still in a small minority.
One of the important things though, is that corporations held on to older versions of Office longer, because their testing had determined that upgrading to Ribbon would require significant expense for retraining users. These corporate customers held out until the old Office was no longer supported.They would have preferred to stick with the menus interface, but Microsoft was the big bully who dictated how Office would work.
Good response, Jmch and I agree with most of it.
As economists (or at least competent ones) like to say, a "market" is a thing with many buyers and many sellers, and that is exactly what the office productivity caper is not. As you say, it's a quasi-monopoly, and in monopoly markets the rules are different.
A couple of points, however. First, on market share. I suggest that MS Office's market share, while huge, would be a good deal larger still if it wasn't for their arrogant UI changes. The fact that products like Libre Office and Corel Office survive at all says something; the very large market share of the Google products says a lot more.
More speculatively, I'd suggest that one reason (among many other reasons) for the very rapid take-up of phones and tablets at the expense of PCs is that many users found the brain-dead UI tricks of things like Office with its ribbon and Metro with its tiles off-putting. I doubt that they actively drove users away, but in failing to maintain the consistent, simple, powerful PC interface the industry had spent years improving and refining, they made defection easier and faster.
Second, nobody ever got anywhere by defeatisim. Do not give in. Ever! There have been many remarkable back-from-the-dead recoveries in the history of computing, and a great many sudden implosions of products once thought unbeatable.
A classic example of the former is Netscape, which was as dead as a very dead thing but morphed into the wonderfully successful Mozilla/Firefox products, which absolutely nobody expected. (Firefox is on life support today, of course, but in its pre-Australis heyday it was a mighty thing indeed and pretty much single-handedly saved the web from Internet Explorer strangulation. A classic lesson in not giving up.) As for an example of the latter, it's hard to go past MySpace. But there are many others.
In short, it's my horse, it's not dead, and I'll flog the bloody thing if I want to.
"People stayed with the older Office versions for many years (because of their superior usability)"
Or simply because they didn't see why they should pay MS money to upgrade something with which they were content. That would be a valid reason even if the interface hadn't changed at all.
The greater number of customers has come AFTER the ribbon was introduced.
The thing you have to remember in tech, is that with growing populations and larger deployments, you're at the shallow end of the curve.
For pretty much every tech feature that most Reg readers are familiar, the main customer audience is for those familiar with the succeeding feature. There are plentiful designers, support agencies and trainers for those new implementations. It's the older set who have to adapt or die.
(speaking as someone who has used Office apps for nearly 30 years, and still has adaptive muscle memory)
"Anyone who has been using MS Office for just a couple of the intervening 10 years should long ago have become used enough to the new interface to breeze through work just like in the good old days, right?"
Oh, I'm used to it. But breeze through work? Not hardly. The ribbon is a huge productivity-killer that makes it extremely painful to accomplish all but the most common operations.
It was a shitty user interface when it was introduced and it will still be a shitty user interface in a thousand years.
(1) It eats up lots of screen space.
(2) It doesn't allow you to remove functions you don't need.
(3) All the stuff you don't need clutter the interface and make it hard to quickly find the stuff you actually need.
(4) The ribbon layout changes when you resize the window, making it even harder to find the stuff you need.
The useful part of the old menu system was that you could remove the 90% stuff you would not need. The result was a single, concise menu bar with everything you regularly use, easily accessible by a single mouse motion. They broke it. I still don't understand why.
(2) It doesn't allow you to remove functions you don't need.
Not quite true. You can "Customize the ribbon" and pretty much lay waste to it by turning off tabs or removing elements from tabs. However leaving only the things you actually want can be a tedious job. I put a section in the Home tab to contain the stuff I use most of the time, so I don't have to switch tabs to get at it.
LOL 53 down votes! You hit that one out of the park! I wonder if anyone every got triple digit down votes... The ribbon looks like Microsoft blew chunks all over the screen to me. Can't stand that thing. I will complain for another 10 years. Maybe by then, the world will end, Microsoft will go under, or finally come to their senses and put the ribbon out of its misery like they should have before committing crimes against humanity by releasing it in the first place.
"For professionals who actually want to work with the products, it was quite frustrating and painful."
Don't you realise those are bad, bad people? They haven't got with the programme. They were supposed to buy upgrades for all their old products. Not doing so means they've deprived MS of their rightful extra income. Next thing, you'll be telling us some of them even use LibreOffice as well.
People don't like because it pretty much destroyed their acquired keyboard shortcuts habit which allowed them to breeze through complex operations that they were used to doing.
That happened at every new version before the Ribbon as well. Am I the only one who remembers when "Page Setup..." was on the Format menu where it belongs(1)?
(1) If you think about what it is doing, "Page Setup..." absolutely does not belong on the "File" menu. The changes you make in its dialog box affect the formatting of the document (especially in Word) rather than anything that belongs in the File menu.
That and MS implementation is a cardinal sin of UI design - don't hide/move widgets willy-nilly on the user.
With a menu, I was always told to gray out options that were inapplicable. Everytime I use the ribbon, it seems as if I have to hunt and peck through the tabs till I find the option I want again.
Now you could have different modes of operation that show certain widgets. But the user should then switch mode explicitly, not have it happen when he does something on the doc rather than on the ribbon/commands real estate.
All of this whining would be moot if MS was a bit more willing to allow users to decide how they want to use the system - there are utilities to show menus, so allowing users to switch between menus and ribbons would solve all this. Even a degraded menu mode, where real power use would require dropping back to the ribbon would be an acceptable compromise.
But of course, this is the company that justifies Telemetry as about enhancing the user experience.
keyboard shortcuts still work mate, if you actually had muscle memory from 2003 you'd probably know that because you'd have tried it out of habit...
As much as I do like the ribbon I've never bothered to locate the fill series option on it because ALT+E,I,S brings up the fill series dialogue.
I'm assuming this will all disappear too though and that will be annoying.
"I'm with you here, the most common commands are always available muscle memory makes it very easy... I never understood why people dont like it"
Let me clue you in. If you're doing the same thing over and over, it can be good. However if you need to FIND something the Ribbon hides it.
A person can scan through a series of menus in a few seconds. We're good at reading lists, Menus always worked FINE. Ribbons and Docks appeared to Be Different and justify the cost of an upgrade, not because we wanted them. They obscure things behind unlabeled icons and drop-down menus tied to the icons. Looking for a feature is now a nightmare of hovering over every icon on six tabs of cute little pictures. Did they hide that under Format, Layout, or Home?
Most users simply give up rather than play Hide and Seek. I support a shopful of users and they universally hate it. Time and familiarity have not changed their minds.
For me, ribbon-loathing is due to icons being less intuitive than text labels; the fact that it takes up more valuable horizontal space when vertical space is more available, then combine that with the fact that our eyes scan text vertically more efficiently (or mine do, anyways); plus the layout of icons/labels on the ribbon is rather haphazard.
"... a change merely because of the change?"
Not merely because of the change.
It's because they backed themselves into a corner years ago by getting their file formats made into an ISO standard (add your own comments on the whys & hows of that). That prevented them from forcing upgrades every time a new format was introduced and users of old versions found themselves unable to open files from newer versions. It also meant that compatibility stopped being a moving target for other S/W, particularly open source. So how to lock users into MS products and upgrades?
Enter the ribbon. New users get forced to learn the ribbon interface (all those educational deals) so wouldn't be able to use either old versions of Office or the competition. But now LibreOffice have started introducing a ribbon interface into their products so ribbon-habituated MS users can feel at home.
Is it surprising that we get another interface change?
"if it isn't broke, don't fix it!"
In some ways Word is broke(n), and has been since, oh, 1990. There are annoyances from back then that persist. But worse, lots of stuff that worked brilliantly back then (and in less than 1Mb!), like outlining and header levels, is a shambles now. Yeah you can get where you want to go eventually, but you have to deal with a boatload of crap. The default paragraph styles are mostly useless, the list of styles in the ribbon bears no relation to what you need or have been using in the document so far, and figuring out where a particular command resides on the toolbar is a pain. Why couldn't they find the 20 most common things people do and feature them? That's my idea of UX design. Instead it was probably designed by the promotion-seekers with the loudest voices.
Seems like excessive hand-holding to me.
In order to 'bring up recommendations powered by AI and the Microsoft Graph as soon as you place a cursor in a search bar' I presume it will have to monitor everything you do in order to make the recommendations.
Reminds me of a well-known song:
"Tell me the thoughts that surround you, I want to look inside your head"
Download the UBIT Toolbar for Office. It adds a new "Menu" Ribbon which contains most of the Office 2003 menus and toolbars. So if there were some things that you like about the Ribbon, use the Ribbon. And if there are times when you need the old Office 2003 menus or toolbar buttons, select the "Menu" button and you're right back to 2003.
It is _literally_ the best of both worlds.
Forgive me but i just want my word processor to enable me to create documents and my spreadsheet app to manage figures with the odd graph sprinkled in, i suppose the other apps in the 'suite' have their uses too.
My employer mandates the 'use' of Office 365, quotes because the number of times the Excel UI has decided to stop displaying text, lock up completely or create random versions of documents i'm writing collaboratively with colleagues is at least once per day I have Excel open. Word is not much better, collaboratively working on a long document involves spending a at least 1 of every 5 minutes watching the modern spinning hourglass thing.
I have a Core i7 with 32 GB ram, twin SSD's and a Geforce 1080 card, not a slow machine, this is coupled with a >200mb cable broadband connection and I still spend a considerable amount of time waiting for Office to think about simple tasks like scroll to the next page.
And yes, my drivers are all up-to-date, gone are the days where a product did one thing well, now it seems to be a race to do as much as possible, quality and accuracy be damned.
"collaboratively working on a long document involves spending a at least 1 of every 5 minutes watching the modern spinning hourglass thing.
I have a Core i7 with 32 GB ram, twin SSD's and a Geforce 1080 card, not a slow machine, this is coupled with a >200mb cable broadband connection "
It's pretty near instant here with some very large and complex documents and spreadsheets on an ancient laptop. You have installed the full office 365 local client, right?
This thinking is in line with Microsoft’s current enthusiasm for minimising user distractions.
So this presumably means an end to rotating tiles, adverts, self-reinstalling games, forced patches with the inevitable reboots and other such cruft that has crept into the OS
I’m also not buying the “muscle memory” on the ribbon, the only reaction I get to it is a complete dislike of it and frustration of having to try and find the meaningless hieroglyph buried somewhere in the bar. Use words, we moved on from hieroglyphs thousands of years ago.
>> "So this presumably means an end to rotating tiles, adverts, self-reinstalling games, forced patches with the inevitable reboots and other such cruft that has crept into the OS"
And don't forget Windows 10's constant binging and bonging about every little thing. My area of the open plan floor I'm on at work has about a 50/50 split between Windows 7 and Windows 10 machines. The Windows 7 machines are pretty quiet, OK the odd little "ding" and other such noise, but not much. But the Windows 10 machines? "Bingy-bong", "Bing-bong-bing", "Bong-bingy-bong", "Bongy-bing". All the bloody time.
It's become a standard process for me when imaging any new Windows 10 laptop to slap the bloody thing on Mute as soon as I get the chance.
"It's become a standard process for me when imaging any new Windows 10 laptop to slap the bloody thing on Mute as soon as I get the chance"
I have to be fair to Windows 10: it wasn't the originator of this (and similar) audio sin. It became standard practice for me to keep Windows muted since early Win 7.
Obviously words aren't working for MS either.
I hardly know where to start on a critique of this. I used Word & Excel from Version 2.0a Word. I stopped about 2 & half years ago when still using windows.
I'm glad I neither work in IT any longer nor work in the corporate world.
Dear Microsoft, icons are utterly useless to the blind. We can't see them to interact with them, to see if one has changed to alert us about something, or if the menu we require has rearranged itself to suit your whim. You want us to be more productive? Stop fucking with the user interface & let us get shit done. We can't do that if you keep giving us useless crap like the Ribbon. I spend more time trying to find the menu item to do the task I need than I do actualy doing the task itself. That's the exact opposite of productivity. You. Fucking. Idiots. You've convinced me to upgrade alright, right the hell off the Microsoft infinite treadmill. I voted with my wallet & bought a Linux computer instead. Have a nice day as you fuck off and die! =-D
Are you identifying computers users as drivers or walkers?
If you identify them as car drivers, you would be implying that blind people either don't use computers or get someone to use them in their place - computer chauffeurs.
If you are identifying the road sign users as pedestrians, what do you think blind people should use in place of guide dogs? Cortana?
"Dear Microsoft, icons are utterly useless to the blind"
So are road signs. Doesn't mean we shouldn't have them.
Blind people don't drive, but they do use computers.
There is nothing wrong with icons, but having only icons isn't good. Different people have different needs and preferences, so give us the Ribbon if you must, but have an option for the File, Edit, View menubar too.
Not like I expect anything from Microsoft... (or any software company -- no one cares about users requirements because, outside of us geeks and wannabe-geeks, the general public is too dumb) ...but can anyone design a decent UI that lets me work with a Word document on a portrait-orientation screen? Even the current Ribbon gets a bit cramped, but at least I can see a whole page at a time, legibly. Cutting the Ribbon in height while assuming (like the preview) that the user has screen width to make up for it ignores a niche of the user market and would make it tougher to get anything done in Word.
Like I said before, though: they just don't care.
(Sorry for the rant.)
That's easy. It's the old, classic, tried & true, Alt+F toolbar menu.
Alt+F for File which gave you all the File management options like Open, Save, Exit, etc.
Alt+E brought up the Edit menu for all your Editing needs like Cut, Copy, Paste, Sort, etc.
Alt+V gave you the View menu so you could alter what you were seeing & how you saw it.
Alt+T sprang up the Tools menu where all those "advanced" bits could be found.
Then there was Alt+O for Options so you could adjust the program to best suit your needs.
Last but not least was the Alt+H Help menu which, odd as this sounds, gave you an offline, standalone, locally stored versus cloud based, searchable, almost useful way to get help on issues you found along the way.
The whole menu bar worked well in any screen orientation, the options never changed, you could use them with either finger muscle memory or mouse clicks, & it would have worked for either keyboard & mouse, touch screen, or Assistive Technology alternative input devices with equal ease.
By knowing the menu never changed, that the same keys/mouse clicks/AltPoint actions triggered the same menu bits every time, you got to a state where you could be productive & get shit done.
But since that worked & people liked it, MS decided to fuck with it, ruin it, & render all attempts at productivity null & void.
Your question about screen orientation & controls shows what I mean.
The Alt+F menu bar would have worked in either mode, the Ribbon abomination doesn't work in any orientation.
Hurray for MS' definition of "progress"!
The problem is that no-one is designing UI for widescreens either.
Currently I have a browser window open with a load of shit taking up the top 5% of the screen, the middle third of the screen is taken up with the el reg content and two completely blank bars down either side.
Same with basically every other current interface.
I'd be greatly appreciative of the option to move the menu/tab/interface to the left or right rather than across the top.
Automated recommendations reflect Microsoft’s belief that Office should deliver the commands users are likely to want while they work, rather than making them pause to hunt something down.
Or they could just make the interface not suck, so we don't need integrated
slurp search to find commands. A wacky idea, but it just might work.
FROM COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE LAWYER WHO WORKS IN WORD 24/7:
Hey, MS engineers who occasionally (once a century) take comments from real-world users:
Get rid of styles and section breaks. Get rid of them. They stink. No one in any law firm knows how to use them. Not one person. Even after 20± years of wrestling with your garbage program Word, not one person in any law firm has mastered their use.
Don't argue about it. What I just wrote is reality.
Because of styles and section breaks, Word remains the worst word processing program I have ever used. WordPerfect in 1996 was better then every single version of Word from then to now. Your new version won't change this unless you jettison those two huge -- and unfixable -- problem areas.
I'm not talking about users who can barely write a few paragraphs in a letter. I'm talking about professionals who crank out and negotiate and heavily revise 100+ page documents. Thanks to Word, they are all so full of computer problems that they look terrible on the page and quickly become uneditable.
Here's something you haven't considered in all this time: Every document gets emailed to another lawyer, who makes a new version, revises it and sends it back. So every single document has conflicting styles from different law firms, different users and multiplying, cascading tech issues. And 95% of secretaries try to fix with manual formatting. The result is a mess every single time. And the worst culprits are styles and section breaks.
I don't blame the secretaries or lawyers. These "features" are too hard to use. Stop arguing - I'm right. You've been sending training tips and hints for 20 years, and they cannot overcome the inherent complexity of your garbage program.
There's more, of course. Various features of Word simply do not work. As one of many examples, Table of Contents is supposed to be programmable to pick up only the first "sentence" of a paragraph (ending at the first period). In other words, if I elect certain settings, it is supposed to pick up only the caption ending with the first period and skip the following text. This simply DOES NOT WORK. Your program fails at its own task.
As a result, we had to buy a special program to make this feature work. But then the next law firm cannot update the TOC because your "native" feature does not work.
"Track changes" is a sick joke. In all the years you have seen the good results of true "redlining" programs, why have you not offered this feature to professional users? No - it would be too usable. Instead we get the latest in web-site-friendly nonsense that we lawyers have never used and will never use.
There is so much more that's wrong and stupid in Word, it would take an endless series of articles to analyze them.
Your new "features" will not even begin to fix fundamental issues with Word, which would never have been accepted in the real world without Windows's monopoly position for the last 20+ years.
Animated menus now? More AI trying to second guess wtf I want? Seriously? For the love of sanity, can we please, please please just have solid basic menus that just stay out of the way and do the damn job? People can get used to that! I'm perfectly capable of indicating what I want, without the help of an AI, if you'd just build a user interface that doesn't shift about like some delirium induced hallucination! Since when do UIs have to be a fashion show of 'look how clever we are' nonsense? We wouldn't need 'search' as much if you didn't keep moving stuff around in the first place!
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