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Microsoft Changes Office 2007 Interface Again 300

Posted by Zonk
from the tweaking dept.
daria42 writes "Microsoft has modified its interface for Office 2007 yet again, after complaints from beta testers that the 'ribbon' system took up too much space on screen. The article discusses the resistance the new interface is likely to prompt in old users of the software, both at a personal and corporate level. From a format perspective, there are other changes to expect as well." From the article: "Hodgson also confirmed that Microsoft is working on tools to help enterprises automatically translate existing documents into new file formats being introduced in Office 2007. 'We've been asked by a lot of customers to provide tools to do mass migrations,' he said. 'There will be tools that will take a million documents and migrate those to the new formats.' One likely incentive for that migration will be reduced storage costs. Microsoft claims that file sizes for the new Office 2007 XML-based formats are up to 75 percent less than existing Office formats."
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Microsoft Changes Office 2007 Interface Again

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  • Too much room? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 25, 2006 @07:50AM (#15977258)
    But you already get more document space than you used to [msdn.com] with the ribbon UI!

    I like the ribbon.
    • Re:Too much room? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by wizbit (122290) on Friday August 25, 2006 @08:12AM (#15977404)
      That article is hilarious. You gain a whole 28 pixels because they removed the left-hand document ruler. C'mon.

      Monitors are wider these days. It's vertical screen real-estate that users will notice more. At least in the old Office versions, I can completely remove toolbars or combine the ones I use into one custom toolbar. The ribbon still bugs me, and making it an auto-hide just adds a step to typical usage.

      Nothing was really "broken" about the old system, it just needed more consistency and easier configurability. Changing to a completely new and unproven design just increases training costs for businesses and slows adoption of their new version.
      • by Reapman (740286)
        Honestly I think it's good to see them try and revamp a system once in awhile like the menu bar... I always found Office's to be massively confusing for the end user. Is it under Tools | Options? Tools | Customize? File | Page Setup? Tools?

        With that said I'm concerned from what was said about the Ribbon interface... Outlook only occasionally uses it? Visio doesn't at all? Your going to have end users switching back and forth between UI in a package designed to be "all in one"

        The idea about using th
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Honestly I think it's good to see them try and revamp a system once in awhile like the menu bar... I always found Office's to be massively confusing for the end user. Is it under Tools | Options? Tools | Customize? File | Page Setup? Tools?

          That's because MS had a chimp randomly assign tasks to menu headings. I'd have recommended they get someone with some sense make that more intuitively organized, not re-do the entire thing and add a whole other learning curve.

  • by MECC (8478) *
    'There will be tools that will take a million documents and migrate those to the new formats.'

    Three words: backup, backup, backup

  • by ExE122 (954104) * on Friday August 25, 2006 @07:52AM (#15977276) Homepage Journal
    Are these new changes happening out of some desire to resemble the old Windows software as little as possible? Is there some kind of necessity to change the interface? Does it need a complete overhaul?

    I'm sure lots of people are gonna respond to that with a resounding "YES", but I personally have gotten used to what it is. It took me years to learn the ins and outs of Office after computers stopped coming bundled with MS Word. Even now, I've done away with that side-by-side view in Outlook 2003 and moved everything back to the same way it was in 2000. This goes the same for most other programs which throw in an abundance of menus and graphics to try to make things TOO user friendly. Nine times out of ten, if there is an option for the "traditional view", I'll take it.

    I dunno, maybe I'm just living in the past. I still use vi on Linux, I still use Notepad in windows whenever I can, and I don't feel any desire to get used to any "ribbons" flying across my screen.

    --
    "A man is asked if he is wise or not. He replies that he is otherwise." ~Mao Zedong
    • by Anonymous Conrad (600139) on Friday August 25, 2006 @08:05AM (#15977357)
      I don't feel any desire to get used to any "ribbons" flying across my screen.
      It's just a tabbed large-icon toolbar. It's nothing to fear.

      It's actually very usable when you've learned your way around it (e.g. to edit the header and footer in word you go to the 'insert' tab in Word - hmm?) and many of the old key commands still work, e.g. ALT-E S for 'paste special'. But not in Outlook, bah.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by IAmTheDave (746256)
        I agree - besides, we need some experimentation in minor paradigm shifts in program UIs. I'm all for MS trying something new and innovative with their UI, rather than relying on what is a somewhat prettier Office 97 UI in Office 2003.

        Besides, let's keep in mind that MS needs to do something to entice the user to upgrade - when 2003 resembles and pretty much works exactly like 97, businesses often feel no incentive to upgrade. But a complete overhaul in the product - both in format (and perhaps ODF support
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          I did watch the demo video on the Microsoft site -- and I use the term demo loosely, since half of it was uninformative marketeze -- and I'm afraid I wasn't that impressed. I gave them a fair chance to redeem themselves, but their interactive demo wouldn't play nicely for me, so the video is all I have.

          My conclusion, as I've mentioned before [slashdot.org], was simply that it's too much "pretty, pretty" and not enough real changes that actually make a difference to how easy it is to create useful documents. If they're c

    • by teslar (706653) on Friday August 25, 2006 @08:08AM (#15977376)
      Well, I suppose this means you would also throw power steering, anti-lock braking systems, traction control and so on out of your car because you like it the traditional way.
      You know, there is a chance that his thing might actually make your life a lot more comfortable...
      Granted, this is Microsoft, so you'd have a point if you said "not very likely", but you should at least give it a try :)

      Using vi isn't a good example of living in the past btw. It may be hideous and horrible and I certainly wouldn't go anywhere near it, but if you know how to use it properly, it's pretty damn useful and will remain so for many years to come.
      Notepad on the other hand... has it even learned to do syntax highlighting yet? ;)
      • Notepad on the other hand... has it even learned to do syntax highlighting yet?

        Syntax highlighting? Ha! The thing STILL doesn't even handle unix newline characters properly. I'm not holding my breath for that feature, much less syntax highlighting.
      • by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Friday August 25, 2006 @08:23AM (#15977458) Homepage
        The user interface to power steering is just the same as ordinary steering - you turn the wheel. The interface to use antilock brakes isn't any more complicated than old-fashioned breaks. Traction control 'just works'; you don't have to fiddle with settings for it to help.

        I guess these are examples of the ideal way to improve things: you don't have to relearn anything to use the improvement, it's just magically better. A shame that so few software improvements follow this path. I guess improved font rendering, faster speed, or better reliability are examples.
        • Personally, I would much prefer vehicles to be upgraded to a voice control interface, where I get in, say where I want to go, and kick back with a book until I arrive. Cars have stable UIs, but they're far from ideal UIs.
        • by calethix (537786)
          Nice anology, although it doesn't really apply here. When your interface is so broken that you go to the File menu to change the page margins, how are you supposed to fix that without the need to relearn anything? Just because you learned how to do something with a poor interface, doesn't mean it should stay that way.

          I haven't tried Word 2007 so I can't say much about it but that particular issue seems to be fixed based on this screenshot [officeblogs.net]. Would you prefer to have a File tab with the page settings und
      • by 955301 (209856) on Friday August 25, 2006 @08:24AM (#15977461) Journal

        Hardly an appropriate analogy - all of the things you described did not change the user interface - the steering wheel is still a wheel, the brake pedal didn't move to the glove box and there aren't only two tires now instead of four.

        Microsoft changes things that don't help - all of the things your described help. If I'm a programmer, I still want power steering in my car. But word by default capitalizes words I don't want capitalized, uncapitalizes things I do, and dissappears menu items.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Digital Vomit (891734)
          But word by default capitalizes words I don't want capitalized, uncapitalizes things I do, and dissappears menu items.

          It also wrecks the grammar in your internet posts.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by 1u3hr (530656)
            and dissappears menu items.
            It also wrecks the grammar in your internet posts.

            Granted, he misspelled "disappeared", but it's quite legitimate to use it as a verb, though usually in the sense of "Pinochet disappeared the protesters". Sometimes Word does seem rather dictatorial in the way it insists you do things .

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by rvw (755107)
        >> Well, I suppose this means you would also throw power steering,
        >> anti-lock braking systems, traction control and so on out of your car
        >> because you like it the traditional way.

        That's a rather strange comparison. I didn't have to teach my parents to find the steering wheel again when they bought their first car with power steering. It just operated more easily, not differently.
      • by ThisNukes4u (752508) * <{moc.liamg} {ta} {ippoct}> on Friday August 25, 2006 @08:29AM (#15977508) Homepage
        Power steering, anti-lock brakes, etc. are all seamless transitions from the "old" way, i.e. you do not have to learn how to drive a completely different way of driving to take advantage of them. With interface upgrades, you must re-learn everything. It's like if the steering wheel was suddenly placed where the shifter was, and the shifter where the steering wheel used to be. It just isn't going to happen, b/c nobody would use it. Why should software be any different? Is it really that difficult to add a few things and improve a few more by only making minimal, usage-compatiable changes to the interface, especially when you're PAYING for it and its supposed backwards-compatiablity?
        • by plague3106 (71849)
          If the new UI is more intutive and efficient, wouldn't it be worth re-learning though? I'd think so.

          With your line of reasoning, we should have never left command line interfaces...
      • by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Friday August 25, 2006 @08:46AM (#15977665) Homepage
        Are these new changes happening out of some desire to resemble the old Windows software as little as possible?
        Well, yes. It has long been a pastime among Microsoft's Office team to reinvent the wheel rather than using the standard Windows GUI controls. Perhaps the changes introduced in Office get adopted in the next version of Windows (for example the shaded gradient on title bars), perhaps not.

        The silly thing is that you end up with a mixture of software using different widget styles since the style of menu to display seems to be burned into the executable. Some apps will have old Windows-style grey menu bars, some will have Office 2003 white menus with dropdown shadows, others the slightly different style used in Office 2002, some draggable and some fixed, but they're all doing the same thing. Even a stock installation of Windows with no third-party apps has different styles for window borders between, say, Control Panel and Command Prompt. Surely the sane way to do things is to have a standard Windows interface for 'please make a menu bar', and then when an innovation like draggable menus or hiding unused menu items comes up, it can apply to all applications consistently. Unfortunately I fear that the Win32 API is too low-level for something like that to work.

        (NB I'm not implying that the free software world is any better; historically Unix desktops have been far worse than Windows for lacking a consistent look and feel between applications. It's improving, and distributions like Ubuntu are doing sterling work in trying to harmonize look and feel between programs written with different toolkits. At least a Linux system has only one copy of (say) GTK 2.x installed, so when the GTK appearance changes all the 'g' programs remain consistent.)

        Some suggest that for Microsoft, the inconsistency in appearance is deliberate. Once you have the new Office 2000+x installed, applications from year x-1 start to look a bit out of date in comparison. You need to upgrade. Get a new version of Windows and your old Office version isn't quite right any more; you get a slightly dirty feeling using such old software that doesn't quite fit with the rest of the desktop; best to go and buy the latest one just to be on the safe side. You can compare this with the car market where styling changes are made from one year to the next to help make the old model look old-fashioned and encourage buyers to trade up.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by amliebsch (724858)

        Notepad on the other hand... has it even learned to do syntax highlighting yet?

        Ahhh, Notepad. So small, so simple. But truly, if you want a really useful notepad (that's also GPL), try Notepad++ [sourceforge.net]. I've made it a standard part of every Windows install.

      • by Amouth (879122)
        "Well, I suppose this means you would also throw power steering, anti-lock braking systems, traction control and so on out of your car because you like it the traditional way."

        for every day driving i use a newer car - why, it has ac and a quite ride.. and if i get hit i have a much better chance

        for racing.. i use a 70's MG - why because it doesn't have all that crap in it.. i know exactly how it will react to what i am telling it to do..

        for programs.. i would rather have the lean mean version that does wh
    • by tverbeek (457094) on Friday August 25, 2006 @08:10AM (#15977394) Homepage
      Ask anyone off the street and they'll tell you that "computers are hard to use". The problem isn't the user interface, however, but the fact that it keeps changing. A huge number of people out there learn how to use computers by rote: they click this, select that, and double-click such-and-such to get something done. But nearly every major revision of MS Windows (and to a lesser extent MS Office) has changed these things. Win3x's Program Manager was replaced by Win9x's Start Menu. Win98's Network Neighborhood got renamed to WinME's My Network Places. Win9x's My Computer was moved from the desktop onto a WinXP Start menu that changes from one session to the next. Somewhere along the way, the menus started hiding options from people, making them harder to find. Now Microsoft's taking one of the few things that has remained fairly dependable over the years (predictable pull-down menus along the top of the window), and is now renaming them, hiding them, etc. Is is any wonder that people find this stuff baffling?
      • by gutnor (872759)
        With the steadily increasing time Microsoft takes between 2 releases of products this will soon not be a problem anymore :-)
      • And it's not just the OS changing.

        The keyboard shortcuts change whether you're doing something in the OS interface or an application interface.

        So someone learning ctrl-b in one app is confused when their focus is on a different app and a different function is invoked.

        EVERYTHING else on the market has an interface specifically designed for it. Only computer systems use the keyboard/mouse interface for every application.
      • by stephend (1735)
        The funniest thing about all this is that, as you say, people get baffled with every new release yet they refuse to move over to OpenOffice (or any other competing suite) as they are unfamiliar.
    • by Lumpy (12016) on Friday August 25, 2006 @08:21AM (#15977448) Homepage
      call me more old fashoned...

      I dont care about the interface, I am worried about the new slew of "helpers" they put in there that will do what you dont want them to do, change your formatting, start a bulleted list when you dont want to, "help you" because you are not doing it the microsoft way, etc...

      Personally, a word processor that has NO features is perfect. put on the screen EXACTLY what I type, dont screw with my margins, dont adjust my tabstops, etc... Fun part is they make it intentionally hard to disable all that useless crap.

      I guarentee that Office 2007 will come with twice the amount of that garbage in it.
      • by mysticgoat (582871) * on Friday August 25, 2006 @09:11AM (#15977883) Homepage Journal

        I guarentee that Office 2007 will come with twice the amount of that garbage in it.

        I'm still using MS Office 97 (sans Access) for most of my work. I still have a valid license for it, it does everything I need, and I'm still occasionally discovering some feature I've never looked into before (and every once in a while I find one of those "new" features is worth mastering). All in all, MS Office 97 is a top of the line product, quite rich in features, and much less burdened with crapchrome than more recent office suites.

        When OpenOffice matured, I gained an excellent tool for converting newer MS Office formats to the MS Office 97 formats. That has removed the only serious problem I was encountering with MS Office 97. It also gives me an easier migration path to Linux, if and when the time comes to do that. I began using OpenOffice to backport new MS Office formats about 3 years ago.

        BTW, I had MS Office 2000 and I've currently got MS Office 2003 available at work and I'm no stranger to them. In fact, I've got a minor reputation for being an Office guru-- I'm occasionally consulted about problems in Excel, Word, or complex document development. More often than not, showing the user how to avoid one of the gee-whizz features in the newer office suite finesses the problem, makes for a happy user, and enhances my guru reputation.

        So I'm a very happy MS Office 97 user. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, etc, etc.

    • by Bertie (87778)
      Yes, it does need a complete overhaul. It's absolutely terrible. It's hugely cluttered and disorganised (and no, being able to move stuff where you want doesn't make up for that). Menus have had things added to them higgledy-piggledy over the years, so that often the location of a function makes little sense and just has to be learned - we've all spent minutes hunting for a function we know it has, only to find it's somewhere completely illogical, haven't we?

      Also, the default configuration moves stuff ar
    • Well these menus are improvements in many ways. I just wish MS provided easy menu templates so that you could choose your menus to look like office 2003 or even office 2000 (or wordperfect). That way there wouldn't be many complains, don't like the ribbon? Run in in 2003 mode.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mspohr (589790)
      One of the most persistent arguments for why people will never adopt OpenOffice.org is that it has a (somewhat) different user interface and that re-training everyone would be too expensive. Now, ironically, the new Vista Office will require massive re-training and OO.o will require only minor re-training.

      Now that PHBs are faced with re-training everyone on the new MS Office, will OO.o be seen as a less difficult transition or will they blindly drink the MS kool-aid?

    • I suspect that the reason they changed the UI so much in 2003 and now in 2007 is because they knew that sys admins could easily install OpenOffice, and users probably wouldn't even notice. I know a lot of people who don't like the 2003 UI though, and it sounds like there are more who don't like the 2007 one, so I guess it bites you in the ass when you change the UI for reasons other than helping users.
    • Here's why (Score:3, Interesting)

      Here's what happened: Adoption of previous editions of Office have been slowed by, among other things, objections over the cluttered and confusing interface. Microsoft tried in their own (perhaps misguided) way to improve that over the years, and in doing so, they added bars and panes ad infinitum - a taskbar, a task pane, a help pane, new context menus, etc. - without much fanfare.

      Since there was no real set of organizing principles for the evolution of the Office interface, these new toolspaces naturally
  • So all that crap about junk being saved in a DOC file must have gotten back to Redmond.

    So I wonder what they'll be dropping from the format?
    • by Anonymous Conrad (600139) on Friday August 25, 2006 @08:01AM (#15977340)
      Well there's a bit of junk in the OLE serialisation format but not a lot.

      The new formats are zipped by default. The zip files do contain the data as XML rather than a binary format which must be a small loss but it's gained back by zipping them.
      • by Curtman (556920)
        The new formats are zipped by default. The zip files do contain the data as XML
        That's funny. Do they use the .sxw [oreilly.com] file extension too? :)
        • by creepynut (933825)

          Are you aware OpenOffice saves in OpenDocument formats by default?

          From: Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]
          Both StarOffice (since version 8) and OpenOffice.org (since version 2) have switched to OpenDocument as their native format.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Bertie (87778)
        Now, hold on. As far as I know every Office document contains its undo history by default. Which would be great if you could actually make use of these undos after you've closed and reopened the document, but you can't - it only lets you undo what you've done in the current session. So why's it there at all? That's junk, by my reckoning.
  • No pics (Score:5, Informative)

    by Life700MB (930032) on Friday August 25, 2006 @07:53AM (#15977280)

    Articles about GUI's without images make baby Jesus cry. Google gives these [picaday.host.sk] as the old design, hope it helps.

    --
    Superb hosting [tinyurl.com] 20GB Storage, 1_TB_ bandwidth, php, mysql, ssh, $7.95
    • by pimpimpim (811140)
      Thank you, didn't know these. To be honest, I think it looks pretty nice that way! Much less of a clutter than it's currently. Also, it seems like the ribbon is limited to take about 2/3 menu rows of space, which is what most of us loose to it now anyway. The main problem, but this is not microsoft's fault, is that (wide)screens have most space in the horizontal direction, but this is a problem everywhere, I guess a menu-bar/ribbon on the left wouldn't work psychologically.
    • Re:No pics (Score:5, Informative)

      by amliebsch (724858) on Friday August 25, 2006 @08:04AM (#15977354) Journal

      Having RTFA, it appears that the "new" GUI is exactly the same, except you can set it to auto-hide, like you can with the system task bar. Why this is front-page news is a mystery to me.

      NEWS ALERT! BETA SOFTWARE MAKES MINOR INTERFACE CHANGE! FILM AT 11!

      • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

        by stubear (130454)
        Why this is front-page news is a mystery to me,

        What's the mystery? Slashdot needs articles like this to stay in business so they can generate ad revenue from frothing-at-the-mouth rabid slashbots. If Slashdot could figure out a way to monitor Bill Gates bowel movement habits and patterns you'd see articles every day day about each one.
        • by Ed Avis (5917)
          If Slashdot could figure out a way to monitor Bill Gates bowel movement habits and patterns
          Using the Microsoft iLoo [com.com]? Maybe it has an, ahem, security hole?
      • by Jugalator (259273)
        Why this is front-page news is a mystery to me.

        I think it's because it was posted on Digg and a whole lot of people started digging up the story, thinking MS (due to a sensationalist headline on Digg) was doing away with ribbons, hence spawning a flood of story submissions to Slashdot, many submitters still thinking it was something big. This is as little change as a task bar hiding when you don't use it. :-S
      • by writermike (57327)
        NEWS ALERT! BETA SOFTWARE MAKES MINOR INTERFACE CHANGE! FILM AT 11!

        You must be new here. Please, allow me to help you.

        The story isn't about a company making a minor interface change in their beta software. No. The story is that an evil entity, one Micro$oft, has again attempted to ram something down unwitting users' throats. Of course, the populace was too smart for that. They threatened to flex their muscles in the marketplace. The evil entity, Micro$oft (in case you forgot), then became a coward and decid
    • by Jugalator (259273)
      It's the same as the "old" design but that the ribbons can auto-hide.
      Sort of like how the Windows task bar has the option for that to conserve a little extra space.

      This "change" sparked a whole lot of confusion on Digg as it was believed MS was doing away from the interface, or changing how the ribbons worked. It's in reality just an optional setting to auto-hide them now. There's therefore not really any change to the ribbons themselves, but just when they'll be displayed.

      I really don't think such a small
  • We don't want a new Office 2007 XML document format, just implement ODF correctly according to the specifications and be done with it. Allow the older formats in order to open legacy documents, but ODF should be the default on all new Office releases.
    • Exactly, then jurisdictions that have mandated an open document format have no excuse not to use Office. Office can than compete based on its feature set, ease of use and overall productivity and not due to file format lock-in. That isn't the Microsoft way, though.

      And while I haven't tried the new "ribbon" based Office interface, based on screenshots alone the new interface seems to be an improvement. I can understand the complaint that the ribbon method of displaying all of the contextual options takes up
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by SkunkPussy (85271)
      Of course the reason they're pushing this document converter to save all this space (who else reckons any savings aren't even gonna approach 70%!) is to get as many documents as possible into Office XML format to gain as much "traction" as possible for said format....although I think "traction" is a word more appropriately used in the context of an enormous slow-moving vehicle mired in mud...maybe not so inappropriate after all.
    • by Randolpho (628485)
      Personally, I think it's better to have competing formats, and the way MS is handling this (supporting both formats) is best. This sort of competition is good both for Microsoft *and* the OS community. MS frequently adopts and/or modifies standards to suit its needs, almost always for backward compatibility or due to user request. Note that many MS "improvements" that were previously decried by the OS community as "breaking a standard" have since been rabidly accepted to the point that many even forget tha
  • Hmm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by tttonyyy (726776) on Friday August 25, 2006 @07:59AM (#15977322) Homepage Journal
    "Microsoft claims that file sizes for the new Office 2007 XML-based formats are up to 75 percent less than existing Office formats."

    Presumably to make up for the >33% increase in the size of their new software? :)

    • by ayjay29 (144994)
      >>Microsoft claims that file sizes for the new Office 2007 XML-based formats are up to 75 percent less than existing Office formats

      It's true, they are smaller (i've been using 2007 for a while now).

      The reason they are smaller is they are .zip files, with a bunch of XML files in them, so they compress pretty well. One problem is if you zip a bunch of office files, you won't get any additional compression, so in that case they can be larger to email, store on a USB dive etc.
  • by sam1am (753369) on Friday August 25, 2006 @08:06AM (#15977366)
    One likely incentive for that migration will be reduced storage costs
    Yeah, but storage costs for office documents are so low in the grand scheme of things anyways. Storage is cheap. (Especially for us - we deal with extremely large quantities of HD video each day - our perspective may be affected by this)

    Judging from past conversions, you'd better keep the original version close at hand, because when the conversion doesn't look right, you're going to have people wanting the original. So now you're dealing with 25% more storage - the original files as a safety copy, and the new 'improved' conversions. Hmmm.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ai3 (916858)
      Indeed, this sounds ridiculous. Upgrade your Office installations because of storage costs? With 750GB HDDs on the market?
  • by spyrochaete (707033) on Friday August 25, 2006 @08:07AM (#15977370) Homepage Journal
    I'm a little disappointed to read that MS is changing the ribbon system. Maybe it's because I run at 1280x1024 at home and at work, but I absolutely adore the ribbon system. As rarely as I feel that it takes up too much space, I can always double-click the tabbed heading to minimize it until I click a heading again. I found the admittedly oversized ribbon to be welcoming and easy to read and click. I wish all the Office 2007 programs used it, but some (like Outlook, Visio, and Infopath) keep with the pulldown bar.

    I've been using Word for about 10 years and have come to know its little foibles and workarounds and sub-sub-sub menus. That being said, the SECOND time I used Word 2007 I was able to teach others how to use it! It's an absolute triumph of GUI design and I'm really enthusiastic about its final release. I'm also dreading the coming of February when my free beta expires and becomes unusable.

    And on the topic of mass migration - don't go nuts with that, Microsoft. Even if a company wants to implement Office 2007 among its entire ranks, interoperability with other shops who will be reluctant to upgrade (due to cost of licensing and training) will mean that .DOC will remain the default file format until, I estimate, at least 2010, unless MS makes a .DOCX interpreter for prior iterations.
    • by Jugalator (259273)

      I'm a little disappointed to read that MS is changing the ribbon system.

      They aren't. They aren't touching the ribbons with this change, just letting users with an optional option (yes, really!) hide the ribbons when you don't use it. Why that would imply a change in how ribbbons work is beyond me. The story tell the ribbons have been a success among many testers, and in response to some concerns they could be slimmed a bit better, MS is now adding this option.

      *gets flashback from Digg and people not readin

  • $5 says by the time Office 2k7 comes out, it won't have the ribbon at all.

    They just can't seem to make their minds up about their feature sets! Hey Microsoft, take a page from Apple's book: don't announce features until you're SURE they're going into the product!!!
    • by PFI_Optix (936301)
      That'd be a shame. I'm rather fond of the ribbon idea, it seems to present more information in an easier-to-manage and more intuitive way. Yes, it's not Office 2003 and it will baffle the "I just want it to work" crowd for a while, but it looks to be a much more useful interface than previous editions.

      From TFA:

      One other change in the next technical refresh, due for release to beta testers in the near future, actually consumes more screen space by offering large 'text tips' when users mouse over individual r

    • The story is just talking about the option to make the ribbon minimized and autohide, in which case it looks more like a menu, but it's still a ribbon. The autohide/minimized setting is not the default setting.

      See Jensen Harris' blog entry of a July 20 for accurate info:
      http://blogs.msdn.com/jensenh/archive/2006/07/20/6 72345.aspx [msdn.com]

      I swear, the tech media is getting worse and worse with their misleading, inaccurate, and shallow stories.
  • Lets get rid of that ugly top menu and controls! And replace it with an... ugly top menu... and controls.

    And call it a ribbon, so it's a new feature that suddenly compels people to purchase the software?
    • I would agree with your moderation of my comment if it was directed with a generally Microsoft-bashing slant. But that's not the case. I use Office both in my personal and professional lives, and it's basically one of those software packages I cannot function without due to professional requirements. It does its job very, very well.

      What it hasn't done is give anyone any compelling reasons to upgrade. Someone needs to explain precisely how this "ribbon" feature adds value. What does it say about the pro
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Aris Katsaris (939578)
        Someone needs to explain precisely how this "ribbon" feature adds value. It removes the arbitrary division and needless duplication between the functionality of the GUI toolbars and the textual menus that doubled the search-space when a user needed to look for a function that they knew was there but weren't sure how best to access. It combines the visual appeal and quick access of toolbars, with the fullness of capabilities that menus provide. When working in related tasks you used to keep on needing to c
  • Hang on. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dzimas (547818) on Friday August 25, 2006 @08:18AM (#15977429)
    The article states: "However, in the next technical refresh of the Office 2007 beta, users can set the ribbon to automatically minimise whenever it is not being used, effectively making the ribbon headings look like traditional menus." In other words, minimizing the ribbon is an optional change -- it hasn't been removed as the root post alludes.

    I really hate the UI changes in each version of Office and wish there was a "classic" setting that causes a default skin to be displayed with everything in a standardized spot. Why? Because when my mother/sister/neighbour's cat purchases a new computer it inevitably comes with a new version of Office that has features senselessly 'hidden' in different spots. It causes no end of agony to help these poor users adapt. After all, most people need little more than a glorified typewriter with spell-checking. Microsoft should offer "Office Extrasimple Basic" for folks like these.

    Of course, they'd market it in a way that encouraged people to upgrade "just in case they need the ability to do something powerful."

  • by dsandler (224364) <dsandler AT dsandler DOT org> on Friday August 25, 2006 @08:24AM (#15977462) Homepage
    Microsoft claims that file sizes for the new Office 2007 XML-based formats are up to 75 percent less than existing Office formats.
    ...thus marking the first time that using XML ever made any data representation more compact.
    • by dodongo (412749)
      Well yeah, but still -- what the hell? They're actually touting "reduced storage costs" as a bonus? Storage cost is incremental with the size of the drives you buy, not the amount of stuff you store on those drives, and I can't believe anyone anywhere has their storage equipment needs determined in any significant way by the size of Office documents*. That doesn't seem like a very strong claim.

      -----------

      * -- Find a way to shrink pr0n storage by 75% and you may have something, though.
    • ...thus marking the first time that using XML ever made any data representation more compact.

      I realize you're going for funny, but this isn't true. This paper [idealliance.org] evaluates a number of XML compression techniques. They compared binary formats to uncompressed XML to compressed XML. The paper states that "three methods compressed the XML to less than the size of the corresponding binary file." One of the best compression approaches is XMill [sourceforge.net].

  • by gfxguy (98788) on Friday August 25, 2006 @08:27AM (#15977493)
    This is what I've always said about people's reluctance to switch to Linux; it's not that software isn't as good for most users, it's that it's simply not what they're used to.

    Many people claim to be sick of MS and the intrusiveness and high costs of being legal, but when they try Linux they complain that it's not Microsoft.

    Well, now it looks like, with this new Ribbon thing, users will complain because, according to the article, there will be inconsistency between MS applications - some will have the ribbon, some won't.

    It's not even whether or not the ribbon is a bad thing, it's that people don't like learning new things.
  • What's with stories that talk about something clearly visual and then not have screenshots or photos?

    It's a story about a new UI ... and there isn't a screenshot on the first page of the article [... we'll ignore the "split a 1000 word article into 300 pages to make ad revenue ...]

    Almost as bad as the stories linked to by fark ... "Car rolled 98 times and then burst into flames" and the only picture is of some old dude taking viagra or whatever ad the "news" site has ...

    Tom
  • by tygerstripes (832644) on Friday August 25, 2006 @08:30AM (#15977523)
    As a 'dumb' Office user (apart from my other work, I have to slog away with Word & Excel a lot of the time, as mandated by the Board Room in the Sky), I have to ask: what difference does it make??

    In any given hour of work in Word or Excel, do you know how often I use menus, buttons or anything outside the actual document/worksheet space? Maybe once or twice for Word, maybe only a little more for Excel. The reason? Shortcuts, people, shortcuts.

    How office-monkeys can sit in their Dell Hells day after day, doing the same crap over and over again, without learning
    a) to touch type and
    b) how to do things a bit quicker and easier with the keyboard
    is absolutely beyond me.

    What do I need from my UI? Leave it as it is. I have exactly two toolbars in either Word or Excel, and use a fraction of each (if I'm that concerned about screen space, I'll customise more carefully). Anything beyond my capabilities with keyboard and the odd button, I will happily use a menu for. Anyone who tells me how much easier and more intuitive Ribbons are to use, I say this: I've tried it, and I found them exactly as useful as the current UI, ie not at all.

    No, this is not a "I don't need no stinkin' upgrades" rant. This is a "For God's sake, people, learn to use the tools you have properly and you'll work quicker, easier and not give a damn about this either" tirade.

  • I'm all for cutting-edge design and pushing the envelope with visual metaphors, but the ribbon concept feels too much like a brainstorm of what can be done to make this version of office more sellable than any previous version. I admit that I like the concept and have played with the beta, but ribbons alone doesn't make it worth it to me to upgrade from office 2000 (which I've come to appreciate the sort of lean-n-mean look you can give it).

    In essence, they're stuck: it's still a word processor, spreadsheet
  • I knew MS doc format was a very dumb hack, but never realized how bad it was. One of the most common complaints by people about XML is that "XML files are too large. It wastes space. It is very verbose. yadda yadda yadda". And now comes MS and says that its doc format takes up four times as much space as XML? What the hell is going on?

    Two possibilities:

    1. It is not XML at all. It is highly compressed, encrypted, obfuscated, binary data sitting between XML tags. Make sure no body can read/write these fi

  • Due to a recent list of free MS software, I tried out both GroupBar [microsoft.com] and Scalable Fabric [patrickbaudisch.com] (scroll way down for download link, this is a .msi [microsoft.com])

    GroupBar: I love this product, especially once I started playing around with some of the options. Why the current Windows taskbar doesn't incorporate all these functions is beyond me. Note: there is no shortcut created anywhere by the installer, go into \program files\microsoft research\groupbar and run from there.
    The basic concept is that through simple drag-and-drop operations on window tiles within the bar, users can create lightweight, transient grouping relationships that allow them to perform certain higher-level window layout functions on multiple windows at once. In addition, windows and groups in the GroupBar can be persisted in a "Snapshot" which attempts to remember the position and contents of each window in a way that allows the Snapshot to be recreated at a later time, even if the windows have been rearranged or closed.
    Scalable Fabric: I found this is the more interesting approach, however it's a buggy implementation and only good for playing around with.
    Scalable fabric is a window management system that offers an alternative approach to windows minimization. First, it shrinks windows when minimized, rather than iconifying them. Shrunk windows keep updating; this allows users to monitor minimized windows for visible changes or notifications. Second, scalable fabric allows users to place shrunk windows in 2D space, very much like non-minimized windows.
    Jonah HEX
  • old news (Score:3, Informative)

    by pdschmid (916837) on Friday August 25, 2006 @01:00PM (#15980004)
    The ribbon UI changes are rather old news. They were announced already in July complete with videos:
  • I like the Ribbon (Score:3, Interesting)

    by eraser.cpp (711313) on Friday August 25, 2006 @01:02PM (#15980022) Homepage
    Even if the article is about Microsoft, I'm surprised to find that people here don't like the ribbon idea [aarakast.de] at all. When I first saw it I thought the design was revolutionary and considerably more intuitive for users new to computers. Functions are better organized toward what the user wants to do as opposed to the vague categories we have in today's menubars that frequently require people to search multiple different menus to find what they want (Edit vs. Tools, View vs. Window). I do however agree with an earlier poster's remark that the design uses precious vertical space even though today's monitors are moving towards increased horizontal space. In Word this is tough to pull off because the primary use (creating an 8 1/2 x 11 document) demands vertical space, but surely there are other non-office applications that could benefit from this new style?
  • by I'm Don Giovanni (598558) on Friday August 25, 2006 @06:33PM (#15982685)
    To those noting that DOC is 4 times larger than OpenXML, and are therefore gloating that this proves that DOC is bloated, how about Adobe's PDF?

    I've just downloaded the just released ECMA Draft 1.4 OpenXML Specs [ecma-international.org]. They are 5 files, available in both DOCX (the OpenXML version of DOC) and PDF.
    The PDF files are 4 to 7 times larger than the DOCX files (except for the "Part 3 - Primer" doc, where the PDF file is only 1.2 times larger than the corresponding DOCX file).
    For the main file, "Part 4 - Markup Language Reference", the PDF version is is 42MB and the DOCX version is 10MB.

    Just adding some perspective.
  • interface is good (Score:3, Interesting)

    by john_uy (187459) on Friday August 25, 2006 @08:34PM (#15983194)
    i've been using office 2007 beta 2 for quite some time now. their new ui is actually better and more user friendly than the old one. it is easier to do the functions you need in one click (mostly.) however, i just would want that old menus still be there because there are times when i am at a loss to a previous function in the menu and i can't seem to find it through the ribbons. other improvements (great productivity boost) that i liked is the 'preview' mechanism that displays changes to the text by just pointing to the selection. ex. the text adjust its size and font as you browse through the selection.

    i install it in my laptop and when other people see it, they find it cool that they would also like to get a copy of it. but alas, microsoft started charging for the download of the software. i was lucky to have it before (the product key is not transferrable to other computers by the way.)

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