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Office 2007 UI License 281

Posted by kdawson
from the guidelines-available-but-not-to-you dept.
MikeWeller writes, "Microsoft has recently announced a new licensing program for the Office 2007 user interface. This page links to the license and an MSDN Channel9 interview about the program (featuring a lawyer). The program 'allows virtually anyone to obtain a royalty-free license to use the new Office UI in a software product. There's only one limitation: if you are building a program which directly competes with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, or Access (the Microsoft applications with the new UI), you can't obtain the royalty-free license.' What does this mean for OpenOffice? Will traditional menus/toolbars hold up to an ever-increasing number of features, or will OO be forced to take on a new UI paradigm? With the gap between OO and MS Office widening, how is this going to affect users trying to move between the two platforms?" You need to sign the license before you can get the 120-page UI implementation guidelines, which are confidential.
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Office 2007 UI License

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  • Fair enough (Score:2, Insightful)

    by El Lobo (994537)
    Fair enough. You want to compete? Then work your ass off...
  • by yagu (721525) * <yayagu@TIGERgmail.com minus cat> on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @09:20AM (#16948324) Journal

    So, what this seems to say: Microsoft will allow anybody and everybody to plant their seed (the ribbon UI), to start the viral/grassroots campaign to their way of doing things. Unless and until it conflicts with their existing products.

    It's royalty free... translation: Microsoft gets a free ad campaign. But for those who may not be familiar with the company Microsoft, Microsoft is not likely to be friendly about anyone using their UI on any product down the road they decide should be protected.

    So are these the dying rattle breaths of a behemoth unable to compete today? Or is it one more salvo (consider Ballmer and his innuendo about Microsoft's Novell-Linux pact) in a war to control even more tightly the computing business world?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Luscious868 (679143)
      But for those who may not be familiar with the company Microsoft
      Uh, this is Slashdot. Not only are most readers familiar with Microsoft, but they also hate them as much as you do.
    • by phase_9 (909592) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @09:34AM (#16948510) Homepage
      So, what this seems to say: Microsoft will allow anybody and everybody to plant their seed (the ribbon UI), to start the viral/grassroots campaign to their way of doing things. Unless and until it conflicts with their existing products.

      Couldn't have said it better myself. This is Microsoft's way of trying to get a 'unique new interface' rolled out as rapidly as possible. If you're not using this 'unique new interface' then you know you're behind the time - hell, knowing Microsoft products, it also means you're probably about to be EOL [microsoft.com]'d!

      "Dude, You're still using XP with those crappy flat menus.... wow..."

      I genuinely hope that the public don't buy this latest round of Msft. bullsh-t, Office 2003 is still perfectly capable, why should users be forced to upgrade?

      *sigh*

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by alexhs (877055)
        "Dude, You're still using XP with those crappy flat menus.... wow..."

        ... you must be a dinosaur [microsoft.com]

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by discojohnson (930368)
        I genuinely hope that the public don't buy this latest round of Msft. bullsh-t, Office 2003 is still perfectly capable, why should users be forced to upgrade?

        three letters: XML [microsoft.com]. have you ever tried to generate an excel document with charts without using an office object? can't really be done in a secure (read: won't potentially crash your IIS box) manner due to needing office installed. in an environment where reports (excel, ppt, word) are generated by a site this is priceless.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by IAmTheDave (746256)

        I genuinely hope that the public don't buy this latest round of Msft. bullsh-t, Office 2003 is still perfectly capable, why should users be forced to upgrade?

        Being someone who develops a product that is heavily integrated into Office wherever possible (because our customers demand it) I could actually see using some of these components. I know there's a lot of MS hate, but Office 2007's UI will become known - sooner or later - and riding their giant monopolistic wave to success isn't bad business.

        It m

      • if you are building a program which directly competes with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, or Access (the Microsoft applications with the new UI), you can't obtain the royalty-free license.'

        So if you are doing word processing, document editing, email, calendars, diagramming, data storage/database, reporting, presentations, or anything else useful for end-users, there is no royalty-free option.

        If you are doing a Mickey Mouse IM, media player, or something else that can't generate revenue due to widespr

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by msobkow (48369)

          This whole concept got me thinking about UI history overall. Let's take a romp through history of some of the UI advancements over the decades:

          Function Labels
          Old-school "green screen" standards such as IBM's user interface guidelines included the use of label displays for function keys (where supported by hardware), standardization of keystroke actions such as "ALT-F4" closing a window, and recommendations for font highlighting to indicate mandatory/optional data, read/write access, primary keys, etc.

    • by CastrTroy (595695) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @09:35AM (#16948520) Homepage
      I think that most reviewers had problems with the new UI because many (most?) people who use MS word have enough trouble with moving between different versions when there is very little UI change. A complete overhaul such as this would be terrible, especially when all the other applications they still use have a completely different UI. I think this is a method of getting more applications that work the same as the new MS Office, so that people start to think that it's more worth it to learn the new UI rather than just stick with the old software, or switch to OO.o, since it's more like Word 2003 is than the new MS Word. I think that MS is taking a brave stance by trying to move away from the tried and true UI, but I think that many users will have a lot of trouble learning the new interface. Remember the UI hasn't changed this drastically since the move to windows in MS Word 6(?).
      • by Randolpho (628485) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @10:19AM (#16949176) Homepage Journal
        I think that MS is taking a brave stance by trying to move away from the tried and true UI, but I think that many users will have a lot of trouble learning the new interface.
        I tend to agree with you on both points. Changing UIs like that is a gutsy move. Even the switch to the windows 95 OS interface didn't change much about the overall window UI from 3.x. This is a huge move.

        That said, I've asked folks at MS several times at conferences about the switch, and they all give a similar answer. Their research indicates that users overwhelmingly prefer the new UI over the old menu-driven approach.

        It's a gutsy move, but they're sure it'll be a welcome one.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by VertigoAce (257771)
          I've been using Office 2007 almost exclusively for the last six months. Every now and then I do something in Word 2003 and it is a painful transition. There are features that I started using in Word 2007 that are in older versions, but I spend five minutes trying to find each one. Most users don't have a clue about the things Word 2003 is capable of, because they are hidden in obscure menu options and dialog boxes.

          The transition from 2003 to 2007 is probably an initial five minutes to look around the ribbon
      • by rvw (755107)
        I suppose the move to Windows was much more radical. Still, this is no.2. I don't know yet if I'll use it or not. Is it possible to go back to the classic menu? Like in XP you can use the Windows Classic style? It's the first thing I do after installing XP: change that ugly blue theme and go to the classic start menu, set explorer to the classic style.
      • by dnoyeb (547705)
        It seems to me like an attempt to bake the 'windows' UI into a specific application suite. Then they will probably give this UI away for free with windows by default, but still claim its part of office?

        This would seem to be an attempt to keep other office programs from using any new UI candy present in Vista. Nothing more, nothing less.

        I't won't matter because when people start 'working' they are not concerned about how pretty the UI is but how well things work. MS Word for one is a terrible program perf
      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by geobeck (924637)

        ...the UI hasn't changed this drastically since the move to windows in MS Word 6(?).

        I remember using Word and Excel 4 in Windows, and no, the UI was not that different at all. This seems like a case of "We've got this flashy new OS, but we have no functional changes for Office... how can we justify releasing a new version?"

        Kind of like when they released a tremendous overhaul of Windows NT (Windows 2000) for business, but had nothing new for home users. The result: Windows Me. If that's a valid para

      • by ericlondaits (32714) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @12:27PM (#16951600) Homepage
        I think the web (web 2.0 particularly) threw the concept of "uniform UI" out the window. Once the average user was supposed to learn to use a small, consistent and coherent set of widgets, practices, metaphors, etc. now they are exposed to different login procedures, different password schemes, captchas (an absolute UI WTF), flash interfaces, AJAX interfaces, JAVA interfaces, standard Web forms, etc. Thanks to web apps we kissed much of the work on localization, accesibility and contextual help goodbye.

        Today there are lots of inexperienced computer users who still manage to:
        • Use windows.
        • Use a browser.
        • Use an IM client.
        • Use an email client or webmail site.
        • Use some social network site, like the complete UI mess that is MySpace, or blogs, photologs, etc.
        • Use a p2p client
        Just with that basic usage they're exposed to a ton of different widgets, metaphors and procedures Even users who call the little blue icon with the 'e' "The Internet".

        So, sure... some people will feel lost at first, but I think a complete UI overhaul is much manageable now than it was before the coming of the net.
    • by Total_Wimp (564548) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @09:35AM (#16948530)
      This is not the first time MS has placed this kind of restriction. The MSDN, a large pack of software used by subscription and intended for developers, has had a similar restriction since well before 2000. It says, in a nutshell, that you can use the software to develop anything except a general purpose suite of office software.

      It's kind of stupid to offer development tools and then restrict developers, especially if you're interested in convincing people that you're not using your monopoly improperly. It looks bad. But I gotta ask, why on Earth should open source developers care?

      Do you want to be in Microsoft's shadow? Are you an "almost as good" substitute for MS, or are you actually better? Do you have origional ideas?

      AMD didn't get where it is now by continuing to copy Intel. It got here by at some point realizing it could do better. Intel ended up following them. If you want to look, act and be just like Microsoft, then you should be upset over this. If you want to look and act like something better, then this is just a good reminder that that is your goal.

      TW
      • by Psiren (6145)

        Do you want to be in Microsoft's shadow? Are you an "almost as good" substitute for MS, or are you actually better? Do you have origional ideas?

        The problem with this is Microsoft have a huge budget and endless resources to develop these new ideas. On the flip side, while the "open source community" can probably outdo Microsoft in terms of developer numbers, there is no effectve way of mobilising that "workforce" towards a common goal. Even Sun has been unable to create a usable GUI for Openoffice. It sucks

        • by LinuxDon (925232)
          Quote: "Even Sun has been unable to create a usable GUI for Openoffice. It sucks terribly in comparison with MS Office."

          Hold it, it depends on what you're familiar with. I for one get the strong urge to smack my head against the monitor every time I work (about two hours per year) with MS Office. However, I'm very comfortable working with OpenOffice. And having to click the arrow in MS Office everytime I want to access a menu item I haven't used in the last 2 minutes is the worst invention -ever-.
          • by Psiren (6145)

            And having to click the arrow in MS Office everytime I want to access a menu item I haven't used in the last 2 minutes is the worst invention

            I'm in total agreement there. The first thing I do is turn that off. That's what options and preferences are for. My colleague however thinks it's very useful. He thinks you need to be a regular user of Office to get the "benefit" of it, and like you, I'm not.

            My main grumble about OpenOffice is the godawful widget set they've created. If they switch to either Gtk or Qt

        • by Total_Wimp (564548) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @12:13PM (#16951296)
          On the flip side, while the "open source community" can probably outdo Microsoft in terms of developer numbers, there is no effectve way of mobilising that "workforce" towards a common goal. Even Sun has been unable to create a usable GUI for Openoffice. It sucks terribly in comparison with MS Office...

          ...I'll be the first to cheer when someone comes up with a more usable interface. I won't be holding my breath though.


          I'm not so sure it's as bad as all that. For example, look at the OOo 2.0 icons. They look great. I know an icon is barely a UI element, much less a whole UI, but you know a a regular ol' programer didn't do that. It took someone with more than a little artistic talent to pull that off.

          For that matter, look at the visual elements in major Linux distros over the last few years. Visual quality and consistency have improved dramatically across the board. Some areas are still rough, but if you've ever looked at the mess that's in most Microsoft "options" menus, you know theyr'e not alone.

          I have to admit that I've been lulled into looking for the next clone of an MS feature. When they put the format painter in OO.o 2 I was very pleased. But it's not the clone features that get me comming back to open source. It's the things that only those products offer.

          Wasn't it tabs. popup blocking and the small footprint that got you hooked on Firefox? MS didn't have 'em. I know I like being able to have more than one true window in OO.o spreadsheet. The guys in Redmond make me use a single window.

          Now microsoft is following Firefox's lead on tabs. They're actually following open source. Tabs are a UI element. Clearly OS has some ability to lead.

          BTW, I agree with you. Microsoft has some very bright people who often do a great job at making thier UIs work for you. Sometimes they don't. Often, even if they do, they take their good, sweet time to get there. The OS community can bang out an improvement almost at the speed of thought, and then ramp up evolutionary improvements in short months, or even weeks. I think that if it's a priority for OS to lead, MS is going to have no choice but to follow. I also think if we simply follow, we'll never be given the opportunity to lead.

          TW
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JohnQPublic (158027)
      Hey, there's no law that says you have to make your application look like MS Office. But since most applications on Windows (and many FS/OSS applications as well) try to do so, it's nice to know how, and to know that the only folks who could try to stop you from doing it won't. Cut Microsoft a break here - they deserve it in this case.

      On the other hand, the strong implication in this is that Microsoft has defensible intellectual property underlying the Office 2007 UI. It wouldn't surprise me to find that
      • Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the UI cloning battle fought a long time ago (the spreadsheet wars and the battle for the trash can). The courts ruled that it is OK to make a program work in the same manner, to copy the "feel" of a program. However, it is not OK to copy the specific artwork of a program.

        Besides, To me, it looks like the Ribbon interface is merely horizontal menus instead of vertical menus, based on the couple of screenshots I've seen of it. Whooptie-flippin'-doo!
    • by shaneh0 (624603)
      "the dying rattle breaths of a behemoth unable to compete today?"

      I'm sorry, but your flair for the dramatic is a little much, even by slashdot standards.

      "dying rattle breaths?" "unable to compete?"

      Please. Aside from the notorious cash reserves, they're still making profits hand over fist.

      When they start posting red ink, then we'll talk, but I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you...
      • by mspohr (589790)
        I heard an interesting interview on NPR this morning with the author of a book about the decline of the Roman Empire. He drew a lot of comparisons to the situation of the USA today... that is, an empire at its zenith that makes fundamental changes (primarily loss of freedom in response to terrorism... yes, Rome had problems with terrorists).

        I think the Microsoft is in a similar situation. Profits look good now and they are in a monopoly position in many business areas but you can see that they aren't m

    • by NineNine (235196)
      Microsoft will allow anybody and everybody to plant their seed (the ribbon UI), to start the viral/grassroots campaign to their way of doing things

      So what? It's a good thing for developers and users. I wrote a custom app for my business using VB6 to manage some middleware piece. It works fine. I needed a web browser integrated into it to do a few things. I could use IE, which involved dragging an icon into my application, or I could use Firefox which involved... actually, I have no idea how I would do
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ConceptJunkie (24823) *
        Just wait until your app needs something you can't do with drag-and-drop and you find out how useful all this Microsoft technology is. My experience with MS tools (15+ years) is that the application frameworks are brain-dead easy until you get outside its very narrow solution domain, then it's as hard or harder than than doing it from scratch.

  • Ingenuity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by G3ckoG33k (647276) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @09:21AM (#16948336)
    Ingenuity is Microsoft's best friend when it comes to fight GPL-licenced products. We are seeing the beginning of that.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I don't know if I'd say this is the "beginning". Microsoft has been investing Billions in research and design for years, the new Office UI is simply an extension of that. They've also been allowing developers to use their UI components for years, the only difference here is that developers will not be able to use those UI components for a product that replicates the functionality within Excel, Word, Access, or PowerPoint.

      For developers creating Windows products, this is a great license to obtain. I re
      • by weave (48069)
        Microsoft has been investing Billions in research and design for years
        One word. Zune
      • it just states that competitors can't use their Ribbon interface.

        The key word is "their", as in it just states that competitors can't use THEIR Ribbon interface.
    • Ingenuity? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by HangingChad (677530)

      The words "Microsoft" and "ingenuity" hardly belong in the same sentence. Considering the billions they allegedly spend on R&D, and I personally don't believe they really spend that much, you'd think they could deliver a better, more reliable product. MSFT has purchased its most innovative products. They haven't developed anything internally that's a home run product in nearly a decade. Their market position is more the result of file formats and OEM agreements than any creative development. They're

      • "There's no way a focus group will ever be able to compete with an arena where survival of the fittest determines the most useful products and configurations."

        It depends on how you measure fitness.

  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @09:22AM (#16948350)
    You can copy any UI that you want to.

    This is just a clear threat to competitors that they're going to be spending millions defending frivolous law suits. Interesting that Microsoft have decided that their business model is now to sue competitors.
     
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @09:36AM (#16948548)
      Yeah, I agree, this is a fucking joke. MS are not giving away an implementation of the UI. Just the "right" to copy it. Well ffs Microsoft, you copied the entire Windows UI from Xerox. As the OP says, anyone can copy your UI. In fact there's a ribbon bar in at least one commercial UI Windows toolbox I know of - what are MS trying to say to that company?

      Basically what this says is, IF you download the document, you CAN'T implement the UI unless MS sign off on your implementation. But if you ignore this propagandist nonsense, you can implement any UI you like including a poorly implemented version of the Ribbon UI.

      Jeez. Wake me up when it's in the Win32 API.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        No, not anyone can copy your UI. UIs are patentable, and a great many patents have been issued by USPTO for software user interfaces. These are called design patents specifically because they specifically refer to the non-obvious visual elements of the software. Office makes use of a new paradigm. Whether or not you like it it is the result of a great deal of investment in focus groups and user interaction studies. Microsoft spent money to develop the paradigm and stands to benefit from their investmen
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Otter (3800)
      You can copy any UI that you want to.

      This isn't about (AFAICT, and I'm not clicking through their legal stuff from work) "copying", it's about the licensing terms for their library. Which, for the benefit of the "dying rattle breaths of a behemoth unable to compete today" guy, are the same terms they've always used.

  • The Gap (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lseltzer (311306) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @09:22AM (#16948358)
    >>With the gap between OO and MS Office widening...

    Well this is an interesting statement full of subjective possibility. I could probably argue a half dozen different interpretations.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    One thing that those who dislike the X Window System often suggest is that it lacks consistency. They say that the GUI styles change too much between different applications, and then they suggest that Windows offers a much more consistent GUI. Of course, we can see this is quite a false assertion to be making!

    Windows has just as little GUI consistency as X. This new Office interface totally deviates from anything they've done in the past. The IE7 interface is completely different, as well. It used to just b
    • Indeed, with more applications moving to Gnome or KDE, I guess on Linux the problem will lessen over time. Moreover, the high configurability of the Linux GUIs means that distributions can make the UIs of both quite similar in the distribution's default configurations.

      Thus maybe at some time we get to a situation where Linux interfaces are actually more consistent than Windows interfaces!
    • by ardor (673957) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @09:52AM (#16948700)
      Well, obviously, X has *NO* consistency because it has no standard widgets. Windows has. WINAPI contains buttons, sliders, scrollbars, text edits, menus etc. So the *base* for consistency is there, which cannot be said for X.

      But MS violate their own standards by creating custom widgets for Office and IE. This is something widely criticized by UI designers.

      However, usually the WinAPI widgets are the core of Windows GUIs (tweaked buttons, menus ...) Very little programs create their own widgets from the ground up. In X, Qt does everything from scratch, just like GTK, FOX, Athena, Motif, etc. The important thing is that their behaviour is not fully consistent. Aside from funny Office/IE widgets, I can reuse my knowledge with one Windows GUI when using another. Most Windows apps do NOT use custom widgets.

      However, nowadays GTK and Qt have little custom quirks of this sort. Their differences are mostly optical (but it is a visual inconsistency when 90% of all apps are Qt/KDE-based and only one program uses GTK). However, the presence of two major TKs is a problem because distros tend to choose only one of these two. In this case you end up with a dependency that may be big enough to turn users and more importantly distro makers away (like "oh no, my system is purely GTK-based, I dont want Qt anywhere").
      • by Ant P. (974313)
        Yeah, X has no consistency whatsoever. The GTK-Qt theme doesn't exist.

        How about you show me a way to have MS Word, IE7, MS Antispyware, the Add/Remove Programs panel and the rest of windows all LOOK THE FUCKING SAME.
  • So what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by eighty4 (987543) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @09:36AM (#16948540) Homepage
    What does this mean for OpenOffice?

    Of course I didn't RTFA, but considering that OO.o is a) multiplatform, b) open source, and c) doing fine as it is, I'd imagine the folks at OO.o will be filing this under D for Don't Give A Shit.

    Seriously - would you lose any sleep because MS won't give you a new toy? Even if OO.o wanted it, and even if MS gave them it, they probably couldn't use it because it'll probably be Vista- (or at least Windows-)only.

    And seeing as most critics have slammed the new MS Office UI as being generally awful, it's not beyond the realms of possibility that OO.o's similarity to the "old" MS Office UI might pick them up a few users.

    C
    • by xtracto (837672)
      Well, I kind of agree.

      I agree from the perspective that I am sure nobody will *rush* to implement the new interface design on its products. I was pissed off when I downloaded the new Messenger from microsoft which had the menu bar hidden (you could enable it but meh!).

      Also, just 2 days ago a flatmate who is VERY computer illiterate asked me to help her making Adobe documents appear in the Firefox Window. I was surprised she said "Firefox Window" and as she explained me she downloaded firefox because after a
      • Tell your flatmate that she can go into MS Word, go to the File menu, choose Open, type the URL she wants directly into the textbox, and press enter. This will load the webpage into Word in the same fashion as she would expect if she clicked the Word button in IE.

        Cheers,
        aaron

  • Compatibility (Score:4, Insightful)

    by just_another_sean (919159) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @09:38AM (#16948568) Homepage Journal
    While I love to sell OO to my friends on the fact that it's so compatible with Office that's the only thing about it's compatibility that I like.

    Office for the most part has had a good UI. It has served people well over the years with millions of people getting used to it and being productive with it. Copying the interface and features of Office is a good way to get people to switch (Hey, it's free and it does the same thing, cool!).

    But in the end I think all this "we can do that too" mentality ends up stifling free software. While I applaud the efforts of OO and am grateful for it's inclusion in modern distros I would also love to see them wake up one day and deceide they were going to take a "and now for something completely different" approach. Forget chasing the MS UI. Come up with your own, or stick to the one that's in there already and work on optimizing OO's use of resources. Create more filters for different file formats. Expand on the scripting capabilities to make OO a better tool for office automation. The UI is fine the way it is! Tweak it, yeah, but redo it to make it look like MS every few years? Screw that!

    I understand why they do it but watching the OO team spend the next few years implementing knock offs of ribbons only to see these supplanted by some new inane concept in Office 2010 just seems like a waste to me.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by udderly (890305) *
      I still don't understand why most people think that they need MS Office as opposed to the numerous lower priced or free offerings. Most people simply don't understand that you *do not* need a $400 office suite for word processing. No joke, most people I know think that MS Word is the only way to type a letter to Grandma.

      Of the 500 or so users who work for my customers, only two individuals use any of the "advanced" features of Office. And both of these only use Mail Merge to create mass mailings. Hard
      • Most people simply don't understand that you *do not* need a $400 office suite for word processing.

        I think perhaps it's you who doesn't understand. Most people don't pay $400 for MS Office. Businesses typically have volume licensing agreements that work out far cheaper. Those home users who have legal copies generally get one of the cut-down versions (possibly just Word) thrown in as part of a bundle with a new PC, just like Windows, and don't notice the cost because it's a relatively small part of a mu

        • by udderly (890305) *
          Businesses typically have volume licensing agreements that work out far cheaper.

          Most of my customers are small business with fewer than 10 employees, so many of them are not eligible for big volume discounts (my nonprofit customers get MS products cheaply though). I was cabling a collision repair customer's shop yesterday and he had four MS Office SBE packages on his desk that he had purchased the previous day from Sam's Club. Why he didn't purchase OEM Versions from us is beyond me, since I ended up i
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by coding_sheep (782156)
        Business customers are paying the $400 to get Outlook not Word. Outlook's calendar is used to schedule most activities in large organizations. So really it is the integration provided by Exchange that people are paying for. If you don't use/need that integration then you are wasting $400.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by udderly (890305) *
          That's definitely true for medium and large entities who can afford an IT staff. I'm not so sure about small businesses like most of my customers. Many of them use odd mismatches of Outlook Express, webmail and Lord knows what else to do their email.

          Not that it contradicts what you are saying, but my experience working for many years at a Fortune 100 company is exactly the opposite. I worked as a copy writer at the regional headquarters for this outfit but spent most of my time addressing the rest of t
    • by Trelane (16124)

      While I applaud the efforts of OO and am grateful for it's inclusion in modern distros I would also love to see them wake up one day and deceide they were going to take a "and now for something completely different" approach.

      If they do something radically different, nobody will use it because it's Too Different, and hence a) hard to learn and b) expensive to train (heard this one in conjunction with Linux, eh?). If they do something too much the same, then nobody will use it because it's no different fro

    • by matvei (568098)

      But in the end I think all this "we can do that too" mentality ends up stifling free software. While I applaud the efforts of OO and am grateful for it's inclusion in modern distros I would also love to see them wake up one day and deceide they were going to take a "and now for something completely different" approach.

      Take a look at LyX [lyx.org] for a completely different take on word processing. I've found its user interface to be very pleasant to work with---all you have to do is write, and everything turns ou

  • what what what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by awb131 (159522) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @09:44AM (#16948610)
    The license isn't royalty-free if you're building Office-style apps. So I ask, why would anyone want a royalty-free license for the user interface for Office applications (word processor, spreadsheet, database, personal info manager) unless they were building applications that would compete against Office?

    Brain explodes.
  • What gap ? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by alexhs (877055) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @09:45AM (#16948628) Homepage Journal
    With the gap between OO and MS Office widening

    You mean Microsoft Office 2007 is so much worse than OpenOffice.org 2.0 and Microsoft Office 2003 ?
    It still doesn't number paragraphs (1.1, 1.2) or update references automatically whitout dirty hacks ?
    It still retains locks on directories when closed ?
    It still somehow corrupt your document once in a while (*) ?
    ...

    (*) Last month I needed to save the document as an XML document because saving it as .doc would cause MS Office to crash a few ops after opening the file.
  • how about prior art? (Score:5, Informative)

    by p80 (771195) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @09:49AM (#16948670) Homepage
    the funny thing is that Quanta+ in KDE has had a similar UI with a ribbon for years now:
    http://quanta.kdewebdev.org/screenshots//shot2.png [kdewebdev.org]
    http://quanta.kdewebdev.org/screenshots//shot13.pn g [kdewebdev.org]

    Do they need a license too?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Yeah, not to mention Bluefish [homeunix.org] or Dreamweaver [sourceforge.net]... It's a pretty common concept in web development applications, and I guess MS just decided to be "original" and throw it into an office suite.

      Stealing ideas has gotten them this far... why stop now?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by SilentChris (452960)
      No offense dude, but static tabs running across the top of the screen (which is essentially what Quanta+ uses) is nothing like the ribbon in the new Office.

      The new Office UI dynamically changes based on what you're doing. The ribbon starts with some common (and buried) features for the task you're working on (like changing a font). As you use it, the ribbon drops what you use infrequently and presents new choices. This is nothing like Quanta, and it's clear you haven't used Office's new UI at all.

      That's
  • by davecb (6526) * <davec-b@rogers.com> on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @09:54AM (#16948710) Homepage Journal
    Many moons ago, I worked on a product which started out using a "lotus 1-2-3" menu structure: one typed "/" then selected from a one-line list of options by typing individual characters.

    My Smarter Colleagues noticed that from the same data structure we used for the lotus menus we could build PF-key menus, modern cascading drop-down menus and right-mouse-button pop-up menus.

    Which means that for any menu sequence of head->middle->middle*->tail, you can change the visual appearance of the menu without changing the application-level calls used to create it. And that in turn means you can make "ribbon menus" a user-specifiable "skin".

    --dave

  • I am not a programmer/developer/UI designer. But to me, it seems like the new UI is just the horizontal equivalent of the vertical pull-down menu, with some sugar coating here and there. "Transpose" all those pull-downs and it more or less becomes a ribbon. It seems like the equivalent of the lotus 123 slash ("/") command, where pressing "/" brings you the horizontal menu.
  • Did you look at the UI preview guide? Maybe it is just me, but it looks yet another attempt to change the UI for the sake of change. They have taken the concepts of menus, toolbars, dialog boxes and palettes and combined them in to one big tabbed blob that takes ups even more of the top of each window. Of course it is similar to, but in no way consistent with that annoying new interface they put on IE7. The only thing they have managed to keep consistent in windows is the need to press ^-alt-Del to login. T
  • I hope companies will see this for what it is: An attempt by Microsoft to do with a license trick what they are not able to accomplish with product quality.

    There is a social breakdown happening at Microsoft. Bill Gates is, apparently, no longer interested. The company is becoming more and more unable to complete projects.

    Microsoft never competed very well on technological merits, but now things are becoming worse. People think that Microsoft has been successful, but the company's success has always depended on tricking customers who don't have much technical knowledge. As customers become more technically knowledgeable, they realize more and more that Microsoft is adversarial.

    We who read Slashdot can make a difference. We can explain the issues to everyone we know and meet.

    --
    Comedy and Tragedy of the Bush administration [futurepower.org]
  • Lipstick on a pig (Score:3, Insightful)

    by QuietLagoon (813062) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @10:03AM (#16948826)
    Microsoft put a new UI on MS Office because Microsoft said that the users of MS Office could not find all of the features in the product. What Microsoft has not commented upon was whether the users wanted to find any more of the features besides the ones that they use.

    I would venture to say that the overwhelming majority of MS Office users do not need to use, or even want to use, most of the features that are present in those bloated applications.

    • by stubear (130454)
      "I would venture to say..."

      For those who do not speak slashbot, the OP is saying "Anything I say from this point on is going to be pulled straight from my ass so it supports my initial hypothesis. Please do not look for, nor expect, any atual factual data to backup my comments. In fact, be fully prepared to do the research yourself and discover that I couldn't be more wrong if I tried. Thanks for listening and use Ubuntu, it's the most friendly linux desktop available."
  • ...I think OO.o could benefit from a better UI design rather than aping MS Office. The MS Office and OO.o UIs are too cluttered. I'd suggest something more collapsable and more sparingly reliant on just icons on the less used features. The other suggestion I'd make is to make the OO.o interface more "modal" in a way. As much as I hate 'vi' and it's modality, I think modes could be done right for Office apps. Again, you have all of the most common functionality available in the default mode with little
    • by amliebsch (724858)
      I'd suggest something more collapsable and more sparingly reliant on just icons on the less used features. The other suggestion I'd make is to make the OO.o interface more "modal" in a way. As much as I hate 'vi' and it's modality, I think modes could be done right for Office apps. Again, you have all of the most common functionality available in the default mode with little or no space devoted to less popular features.

      Congratulations, you just described Office 2007.

    • Ironically, it is exactly the kind of study you talk about that led Microsoft to produce this new UI. There will inevitably be resistance to change, but after a while I suspect the usability guys will win, because they have solid research behind them and users are fickle creatures.

      That doesn't negate your main point about free software alternatives not just cloning MS UI, of course. Look at Firefox: innovative UI features not present in the established MS product, in an overall clean and usable interface,

  • by RareButSeriousSideEf (968810) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @10:10AM (#16948974) Homepage Journal
    "Will traditional menus/toolbars hold up to an ever-increasing number of features, or will OO be forced to take on a new UI paradigm?"

    How about turning that on it's head? "Will the paradigm of an ever-increasing number of features hold up to the reality of having to present them in a UI of some sort?"

    I've been using office-style apps heavily since about Office 4, and I haven't seen many new features at all that I consider essential -- *especially* not ones that require adding UI elements to accommodate them. MS's own focus group studies show time and time again that 90% of Office features end up in the "rarely used" category anyway.

    I use Office 2007 some, and I'm pretty neutral on the ribbon since I do most tasks via keyboard shortcut anyway. For my money (or lack thereof), let OOo keep its traditional menus & toolbars. Just make keyboard shortcuts consistent across an office suite, get the fundamental features right, minimize the bugs & make the memory & disk footprints as light as you can.

    The Ribbon may be da new shiznit and whatnot, and by virtue of MS's market penetration may even end up being the "look" that all others are compared to. Even if that happens, though, I have a hard time seeing *feature bloat* being the driving factor behind what UI paradigm wins out.
    • For User Interface, the best option is to let the user decide. When the user feels like they are in control, they embrace the application. If a user can make sense of this "ribbon style" of application control, why shouldn't Open Office give it to them? Even saying that this feature shouldn't come at the cost of hosing over those who think that a minimalist, classic style menu works best for them. A user should be able to use Open Office in either style but the goal is still the same: being productive.

      O
  • by kimvette (919543) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @10:45AM (#16949662) Homepage Journal
    I'm glad Microsoft is so innovative, because, you know, shaping a menu and toolbar differently is new, non-obvious, novel, and there is certainly no prior [adobe.com] art containing anything similar [adobe.com], certainly not anything preceding it by a decade.

    Given the obvious use of technology here and the subjectiveness of what may constitute a ribbon, and how broadly companies like Microsoft tend to paint their patents, I would contend that their "ribbon" is simply taking the Adobe Creative Suite's toolbar scheme that has been around for a decade and simply repainting it to fit in Microsoft Office components. Likewise, one can argue that since context-sensitive toolbars have been around for about 20 years, and buttons in those toolbars have optionally spawned menus when clicked for at least ten years, that there is NOTHING AT ALL new about a Microsoft "ribbon" aside from the artwork, which is covered by COPYRIGHT, not a patent.
    • by kimvette (919543)
      You know, I think we should start looking up Microsoft's patents and point out any prior art we can find which should invalidate them. Where is the site for providing public-review feedback on patents to the USPTO - it's separate from the USPTO.GOV site, right?
  • right here, in your own blood, on the dotted line. Did we mention the first male child clause?
  • The ribbon is some sort of widget, right? Why isn't it a part of windows?

  • This just doesn't sound right. Here we have a known monopoly, with strong control of the desktop operating system and office suite markets. Isn't it in the slightest bit anti-competitive for them to offer this free to anybody but their competitors? I'm no expert on the legal side of things, but this is the exact kind of thing that anti-trust laws are supposed to prevent.
  • From the article:
    You can use the UI in open source projects as long as the license terms are consistent with our license.

    But of course the GPL doesn't allow you to say that your code can't be used in Office-like apps.

    Never mind, I don't see how the license can apply to anyone who doesn't agree with it.

    HAL. (Not following the link!)

  • It continues to amaze me how sheepish MS fanboys are. From the blog comments
    Wow, this is incredibly generous. Thank you, Microsoft!
    . And no, I don't think this is cynical, there are many many others in this vein. Sad, really.
  • Doesn't Microsoft get it? Most users are click-trained on Office. If you move a single icon, they are unable to use the product any longer. If you put this new re-GUI-ed office on a person's computer, they'll be catatonic. I mean, I have seen many users who learn exact, step-by-step procedures. They don't explore. They don't adapt. Revamping the entire UI is a bad idea - people will flee to OpenOffice.

    If IBM had any sense at all, they'd open source Lotus 1-2-3 immediately -- there are millions of people

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