Reinventing The Wheel... And Squaring It
(Disclaimer: I'm a hardware tech who spends relatively little time using Office for work.)
I had a look at Office '07 the year it came out; the college where I was taking my A+ Certification had it installed on the machines there. (On a completely separate dual-boot of XP, which in hindsight I should have wondered about more.) I opened it, looked it over, and immediately thought: "Eye-catching, probably quite intuitive if you're not conditioned to the old system, but it'll take me a week to unlearn the old way of doing things and I doubt I'll be any better off for it."
That's been my reaction to a lot of front-end tweaks MS have come out with, starting with the XP Start menu. (That was admittedly a matter of personal taste, since I habitually navigate the Start menu with the arrow keys.) That's where I think Microsoft has gone so fundamentally wrong; part of me wants to give them credit for being willing to innovate, but "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" is a cliche because it's a good creed to live by. Nobody appreciates being forced to adapt to drastic changes in procedures they've become accustomed to over a period of several years, especially if they're paying for the privilege, unless the learning process pays for itself in productivity gains very quickly. The ribbon does not achieve that. The revamped XP Control Panel did not achieve that. The heavy layer of graphical gloss added to Vista and Windows 7 certainly doesn't.
@Robin Lee: "Migrate to OpenOffice... and get a reverse-engineered copy of Office 97." Can you name a feature added with Office 2000 onwards that's mission-critical to your job?