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Microsoft Software

Office 2007 — Better But a Tough Switch 484

Posted by kdawson
from the bound-by-ribbons dept.
Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "Office 2007, coming out Jan. 30, is a 'radical revision,' writes the Wall Street Journal's Walter S. Mossberg. 'The entire user interface, the way you do things in these familiar old programs, has been thrown out and replaced with something new. In Word, Excel and PowerPoint, all of the menus are gone — every one. None of the familiar toolbars have survived, either. In their place is a wide, tabbed band of icons at the top of the screen called the Ribbon. And there is no option to go back to the classic interface.' He adds, 'It has taken a good product and made it better and fresher. But there is a big downside to this gutsy redesign: It requires a steep learning curve that many people might rather avoid.'"
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Office 2007 — Better But a Tough Switch

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  • Great. (Score:4, Funny)

    by AltGrendel (175092) <ag-slashdot@exitUMLAUT0.us minus punct> on Thursday January 04, 2007 @11:16AM (#17459032) Homepage
    I wonder if this will break all the Excel macros I've written too.
  • by macadamia_harold (947445) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @11:17AM (#17459042) Homepage
    The entire user interface, the way you do things in these familiar old programs, has been thrown out and replaced with something new.

    I'm crossing my fingers in the hope that they replaced the entire user interface with a giant version of Clippy.
  • For those of you who are getting this pushed to your desktops and hate the ribbon...

    CTRL-F1

    But when you have a week when you're not under intense deadlines, give it a chance. I've really learned to like it, and think it does add some clarification to UI that was the definition and punchline of "Bloatware"

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by garcia (6573)
      But when you have a week when you're not under intense deadlines, give it a chance. I've really learned to like it, and think it does add some clarification to UI that was the definition and punchline of "Bloatware"

      Why? It's like getting into a car and finding that the UI you have come to love to hate has changed to something completely different. Gone is the steering wheel as you know it, gone are the foot pedals, and gone are the buttons that operate the comfort controls. In its place you have a foreig
      • Not disagreeing, except if your company opts to do an upgrade like this, they should have already factored in the knowledge of a temporary loss in productivity as their employees learn the new interface.

        So yes, you will have to "stop what you're doing and relearn something else". But apparently, your I.T. department and management decided that was a worthwhile task. (If they didn't think so, they'd opt not to upgrade, or would consider a different product, right?)
      • by powerlord (28156)

        Why? It's like getting into a car and finding that the UI you have come to love to hate has changed to something completely different. Gone is the steering wheel as you know it, gone are the foot pedals, and gone are the buttons that operate the comfort controls.

        Well ... I haven't tried the new Office interface (I'm still using Office 2000), but in regard to your car analogy, I can see cases where it might make sense.

        I've seen a few cars that are doing "drive by wire" where they replace the steering wheel a

      • by MobyDisk (75490) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @12:16PM (#17460228) Homepage
        Why is it that relating computers to cars is considered insightful?

        ...for no good reason other than Bill and his head of Office development decided it would be a good idea...
        Can you please send the link to an article that indicates that decisions on office UI are made solely by Bill Gates and the head of Office development? Because I remember, about two years ago, attending a users group where Microsoft presented the findings of their office UI research. They gathered statistics on which options were clicked most often and least often, whether people used the mouse or the keyboard, how many times they did each operation, etc. I was under the mistaken impression that Microsoft used this research in designing the ribbon. I also thought that it went through several stages of multi-million dollar usability testing. Good thing I have a Slashdot troll to make a crazy car analogy to prove my facts are incorrect! I must have never even gone to that conference or watched that presenter. Thanks!

        Bash office if you wish, I won't defend it. If you have real criticism of the ribbon, post it. But don't make-up stupid insults about a UI you've never seen or used.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by barzok (26681)
          Can you please send the link to an article that indicates that decisions on office UI are made solely by Bill Gates and the head of Office development?
          The program manager had to convince Gates that doing so was a good idea. Yes, surveys and tests were done, but ultimately Gates had to approve. There was an article in Newsweek [msn.com] about it in November.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by sootman (158191)
          > Why is it that relating computers to cars is considered insightful?

          There's actually one in the original article: "It's as if Toyota decided to switch the position of choices on the automobile shift lever, or Motorola decided to rearrange the buttons on the cellphone key pad."

          Cars aside, imagine a world where keypads went 789, 456, 123, 0. Man, that would SUCK. ;-)

          Oh, no, wait... it would FUCKING RULE if the keypads on my phones, computer, ATM, etc. were all the same. Ever use a computer's keypad to ent
      • by Randolpho (628485) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @12:23PM (#17460358) Homepage Journal
        But when you have a week when you're not under intense deadlines, give it a chance. I've really learned to like it, and think it does add some clarification to UI that was the definition and punchline of "Bloatware"
        Why? It's like getting into a car and finding that the UI you have come to love to hate has changed to something completely different. Gone is the steering wheel as you know it, gone are the foot pedals, and gone are the buttons that operate the comfort controls. In its place you have a foreign interface that will take a few days to get used to for no good reason other than Bill and his head of Office development decided it would be a good idea.
        A more appropriate metaphor would have been "gone is the steering wheel and foot pedals and 15 bajillion buttons and dongles (dongles being equivalent to pull-down menus, to clarify the metaphor) on your dashboard that you only rarely used, and in its place is a steering wheel and foot pedals and a streamlined context-sensitive dash-board control with only a few buttons, but only the buttons that you happen to need at the time"
        • by WebCowboy (196209) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @04:11PM (#17464720)
          and in its place is a steering wheel and foot pedals and a streamlined context-sensitive dash-board control with only a few buttons, but only the buttons that you happen to need at the time

          A "context-sensitive dashboard"? What a horrible idea! Another poster very insightfully responded with a comparison to iDrive on BMWs and a few other high-end cars. General consensus is that it is total garbage--annoying at best and dangerous at worst. Why is that? Well, in a car the driver is the primary user of the dashboard and the driver is generally looking at the road ahead. The dashboard should NOT be "context-sensitive" or otherwise dynamic in nature. IT SHOULD BE STATIC. The important functions of a dashboard should ALL be visible, in the same place, ALL THE TIME (even better there should be a tactile element as well--buttons, knobs and such should be raised).

          Drivers need to be able to use such an interface using quick glances and/or by feel. iDrive's ever-changing, and largely non-tactile user interface is much too distracting to the driver...it was so poorly conceived that Microsoft had to simplify the interface navigation and make the little knob have better tactile feedback in the next revision because as it was in its introduction it was almost totally unusable unless the driver was able to pull over, and users wanted many iDrive functions to be safely accessible while driving. Add to that the software bugs that caused such things as radio to go on and off at whim, trunks to open spontaneously and so on and iDrive has been a disaster.

          I haven't yet tried out these "ribbon" things, though I've on a couple of occasions seen live demonstrations of the user interface. While almost anything could be better than the horrid menu system Office has traditionally had such a drastic change is pretty risky--they didn't even leave the wheel and pedals (to carry on the analogy)--it is more like they replaced the wheel with a joystick and the pedals with thumb-and-trigger buttons. Everything is in different places and WORKS differently--it doesn't matter if some study deems that technical advantages exceed disadvantages or that it is easier to learn--the fact is there are a billion people out there who know the old way of driving.

          It is true that a desktop isn't a car and that the analogy isn't TOTALLY valid, however there are some universal principals of designing for usability that MS repeatedly insists on violating. The biggest of these is making things too "automatically dynamic". They've been doing this since sometime not long after NT4 came out: First they hide rarely-used start menu items...AUTOMATICALLY...WITHOUT user's input on how or when to do it. THEN they release XP and hide the old menu items under an added layer...and put FREQUENTLY used items out front...again without much control given to the user. I guess at least they threw us a *little* bone and let us "pin" icons and clear them out totally at will, but they re-appear (or don't) on what seems like a total whim.

          Now they have this new MS Office with its "ribbons" and context-sensitivity and reorganisation and my first impression is that they KEEP ON HIDING AND MOVING STUFF for us. Much of the new interface is clever and makes navigation much less cumbersome. However, then they go and mess with your head again with these "dynamic" elements (galleries) and obscurity (putting what are basically file management functions in "another start menu" indicated only by a goofy little "office system" logo). I would've preferred a somewhat different approach--one that allowed a bit more user configure-ability. In any case I'll have a more informed opinion once I actually have to use it rather than sitting and watching a demo of it.

          Perhaps someone can confirm to me whether or not my concerns is valid--has MS learned anything or are they still pushing the user around by doing too may user-interface alterations automatically?
          • by StikyPad (445176) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @06:10PM (#17466542) Homepage
            Yeah, it took me a few minutes to figure out how to print in Office'07. Basically (unless you use a shortcut), you have to navigate through 2 tiers of menus from the "Office Shield" in the upper left just to get a printout. What was wrong with the print button right out in the open? Instead there's 1 sq.in. of real estate used by a clipboard and some scissors [com.com]. (Does anybody NOT use keyboard shortcuts for that stuff?) Even worse, there's 3 sq.in. used by three cryptic boxes on the right, which might possibly be font selections, but there's also a straightforward font selection combo box on the left, so who knows. And then there's the "Editing" button on the far right. I thought cut/copy/paste was editing, but what do I know. Would it really be that hard to slip in the Print/Open/Close buttons somewhere in there? I mean, I can see myself using the New Paragraph, Sort, and Paint Fill buttons A LOT, but even so, I think I would prefer to have easy access to the aforementioned other "features."
      • by michrech (468134) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @12:26PM (#17460424)
        Personally? I hate Office's UI but I'm used to it -- it had a steep learning curve and now that I'm ok with it, I have absolutely no desire to relearn something else so that I'm able to do my job effectively.

        I don't know why I chose your post over the MANY others of you who are bitching and moaning, but here I am.

        Your comment above sounds *exactly* like someone who has never seen the interface. I've been using it for months now and would *hate* to go back to the "old" office setup. Everything I've ever looked for (page formatting options, etc) are *exactly* where one would expect them to be.

        This is one of the things I hate about the direction the Human Race. "I got used to it this way and, even though the new way is probably FAR more intuitive, I'm going to sit here and complain about how much productivity is going to go down, belly-aching the entire time."

        Do some research. Spend TWO MINUTES looking over the NUMEROUS web pages that have lots of screen shots. I know that many of you don't like "software by focus group", but I think MS got it right this time (if they used a focus group for the UI, that is. They probably did...)
        • by daviddennis (10926)
          There are a lot of people who have extreme difficulty with change. This is especially true of people who live outside of California and a handful of other tech-oriented communities, because people who love change tend to gravitate towards people like them who live in those places.

          I moved to Pittsburgh from Caifornia for work reasons and although the work reasons have worked out well, observing a culture so resistant to change and new ideas has been a huge shock. So much so that I've been trying to figure
          • by michrech (468134) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @01:21PM (#17461564)
            For most of your message, I only have one comment. Those that are so resistant to change will eventually be filtered out of the gene pool, having been replaced by those who can look at alternatives to what they are doing, do some research, and make a choice as to which is better. That is what Evolution does. I know the creationists don't like to hear that, but, they too will soon be gone.

            Is there an equivaent to this on the ribbon? It seems almost entirely mouse dependent based on the pictures.

            This was what I most wanted to touch on. From what few keyboard shortcuts I did know (cut, paste, Italics, Bold, etc), they all have the same shortcut. If, however, you wish to know what shortcut a particular option has, all one has to do is hover the mouse over the "button" that activates the option and some help text will pop up, including the keyboard shortcut (if that option has one).

            Thank you for at least asking, instead of bashing it blindly. ;)
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by SEMW (967629)

              all one has to do is hover the mouse over the "button" that activates the option
              You don't even need to do that; just press 'alt' like before (see here [aspnetresources.com] for a screenshot of what appears)
            • by daviddennis (10926) <david@amazing.com> on Thursday January 04, 2007 @01:42PM (#17461946) Homepage
              Ah, but you may be wrong about this!

              The gene pool is not supplied by the people who succeed financially, who buy that lovely $1,500,000 house in Woodside or glorious $3,500,000 beach cottage in Newport Beach. People like that have between one and two kids, trending towards one. Or even zero.

              They are no match for the deeply conservative, creationist couple in the Midwest that struggles to get by with a $96,000 house, drives a rusty pickup instead of a gleaming Tesla roadster [teslamotors.com] and has six children.

              It's the people who have six kids who determine the gene pool. And they are the "resistant to change" types, not the "embrace change" types. In fact, many of the "embrace change" types have embraced the "zero population growth" idea halfway to extinction.

              That might have been a bit too deep for this discussion, but I think it's something worth thinking about when you start talking about gene pools. The people you think are winning may in fact be losing. Big-time.

              I'll bet a lot more Slashdotters are Tesla Roadster/Woodside house types than five children types. I know I am.

              Anyway, on the much more trivial (but on topic) subject of the ribbon, I suspect this will at least somewhat reduce the use of keyboard shortcuts because they are not "in your face". At the same time, I remember that Word version 5.5 had a very easy to use style/formatting system and version 6 made it about double the complexity without any significant benefit. A return to a simpler style sheet system that's less confusing will help virtually everyone using Word.

              I just hope they fix the crummy font rendering on the Mac. My favorite font (Optima) looks terrible in Word, glorious on Pages. Guess which word processor I use.

              D
        • by symbolic (11752) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @02:32PM (#17462928)

          Everyone is always moaning about the training costs involved in moving people from Windows to Linux. Both Office 2007 and OpenOffice will require training, but which way will be cheaper?
    • None of the familiar toolbars have survived, either. In their place is a wide, tabbed band of icons at the top of the screen called the Ribbon.
      Call me crazy, but this style of command layout sounds more like a Mac-style interface. Given the OS X-style glitz Aero has, it's looking to me like MS is by far a bigger Mac fanboi than any Mac zealot could ever be.
  • Microsoft throwing away backwards compatibility? Tell me it's not true. I can see how people would be more likely to switch to OpenOffice just because the interface is more familiar. I wonder if MS will eventually backpedal and publish a classic-interface patch.
  • by yagu (721525) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [ugayay]> on Thursday January 04, 2007 @11:20AM (#17459100) Journal

    I've seen radical departure in Microsoft's IE7, couldn't completely figure it out.

    I've seen a radical departure in Gaim's interface, still scratching my head.

    I've seen an amazing myriad of Windows Media Player interfaces. I've completely given up even trying to use that.

    I remember a heated discussion once during a design session on a major application we were writing for a "large telcom". The gist of the discussion was we "had to have" a file menu, and it had to be on the top left of the application even though there was no notion of "File" for this application. The rationale? Because that's the way Microsoft did all of their applications.

    I give Microsoft credit for taking a chance on a radical departure from what I've always thought was a stilted and stupid "required" interface (menus)... I hold little hope they get (got) it right considering Microsoft carried the old standard into the 21st century.

    I find it curious they offer no way to use the old menu system. I'd be inclined not to want the old way, but for the sake of familiarity, it'd seem the more sane thing to do to offer the old menu interface as an option.

    • I'm hoping that the "no going back" was in part a victory for their security approach.

      Simpler design, simpler solution, concentrate on "one good way" - less code per function, and less cross-hooks means less ways to screw it up internally and create new vulnerabilities. This is especially important since they appear to have completely re-written everything, meaning this is mostly fresh code.

      Much bigger, I think, I the dropping of Outlook from the "home" version. Charging people $109 may make some of them ta
    • by Moby Cock (771358)
      OOo is not implementing a ribbon. I wonder if it may get more corporate users. I doubt it, mostly because I do not imagine very many businesses are considering upgrading. Where I am, we have Office2000 in Win2k and it works well enough, often enough. No reason to switch.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by eln (21727)
      The problem with offering the older interface as an option is, if the new interface is a radical enough change, EVERYONE will use the old interface instead. This means you're still stuck having to work around and support the old interface forever. In Microsoft's case, though, they can leverage the fact that their Office product is so dominant in the market that they can make this kind of change without the risk of losing any significant chunk of their user base.

      People will bitch and moan, and then start u
      • by Moby Cock (771358)
        If they stick with the new UI it will eventually become the standard paradigm. But not in a couple of years as you say. There are few good reasons to upgrade to 2007 and many reasons not to. Indeed the new UI is a reason to stay with 97, 2000 or 2003 (or whatever). This lack of a reason to upgrade will keep the old interface on many desktops for years to come.
    • I've seen radical departure in Microsoft's IE7, couldn't completely figure it out.

      I wonder if it's so Microsoft can set MSN back as the default homepage, and the average user can't figure out how to change it.

    • The gist of the discussion was we "had to have" a file menu, and it had to be on the top left of the application even though there was no notion of "File" for this application. The rationale? Because that's the way Microsoft did all of their applications.

      There's a big advantage, though, to having some generalized standards to the interface, even if they're just conventions. Users are comfortable that any Web browser is likely to have an icon in the upper-right corner with visual feedback for activity. It w

    • I find it curious they offer no way to use the old menu system.

      It's not that mysterious really... just another tactic to increase lock-in:

      1) Add new, idiosyncratic interface to commoditised application
      2) Use monopoly to compel market to 'upgrade' to new version
      3) Wait for users to accept the new interface as the default
      4) Use IP laws to prevent FOSS competitors from cloning interface
      5) Switching to FOSS suddenly becomes much more difficult

      It's all about increasing switching costs.
  • by TJ_Phazerhacki (520002) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @11:20AM (#17459102) Journal
    And it's downright terrible for professionals. My biggest problem is the "cartoony" look - makes it difficult to actually see what you want to do, and for anyone who'se been familiar with the typical menu interface for years, it's going to take quite a bit to get used to. The question remains - is it fundamentally better? And the only real way to answer that is to give it to people who haven't really been exposed to computers, or who don't have any behavior to un-learn.

    And that dosen't seem to appealing to the corporate customers they're trying to sell this to. I think its an issue of an unnecessary GUI overhaul once again to make an incrimental product seem new.

    • by geoffspear (692508) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @11:38AM (#17459436) Homepage
      Hear hear! This is exactly why I never upgraded to Windows in the first place. Real professionals use DOS.
    • The question remains - is it fundamentally better? And the only real way to answer that is to give it to people who haven't really been exposed to computers, or who don't have any behavior to un-learn.
      The problem with that is that just about everyone has used [the old] Office. Hell, the old interface has been taught to middle schoolers for nearly a decade now.
    • by ditoa (952847) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @12:00PM (#17459842)
      I have been using Office 2007 since Beta 2 and rolled the RTM out after a 2 weeks testing to just under 100 staff. Each week (in the past 4 that they have had it) we have asked for feedback. To begin with it was about 30% liking it and 70 hating it. A few people dropped out of the testing because they hated it so much and were replaced. Over those 4 weeks the feedback has changed and now the numbers are 90% liking it, 5-6% still not too sure and 4-5% still hating it. What this shows me is that it takes a while to adjust. Most people don't like change and Office 2007 is a big change. Give it some time and I am sure you will find it much nicer to use. Personally I really like it now however I started using it without reading all of the negative comments and so I took a very relaxed approach to its new UI. It took me about 2-3 weeks of daily use but now I wouldn't want to go back.
      • by sheldon (2322)
        I've been using it at home for a few weeks. The first couple of days it took some getting used to.

        But now I'm finding that it's much more intuitive. Especially dealing with some layout features, fonts, styling and such.
  • by edflyerssn007 (897318) <ej@lennon.gmail@com> on Thursday January 04, 2007 @11:20AM (#17459104) Homepage
    I do admit there is a learning curve, but even so, once you get the hang of it, its very fast. I know that in Powerpoint it is very easy to find where the tools you need are, and some are in multiple spots if they need to be. There are a couple different presentation modes, but when you have dual screen set up with extended desktop, your second screen becomes the actual slides, while the first screen displays your notes, along with a bar of upcoming slides. If older versions could do this, I never encountered it.

    Word is also better, I like the UI stuff they've done when you highlight and the font menu automatically appears. E-mail editing is tied in well with outlook, which didn't get as much update to the UI as the others, but still looks and works great. Amazingly, even for a beta, I rarely run into stability issues. I crashed it once, but I don't remember what I did, and I really think it wasn't a crash, but something locked it running in the background that just was taking a real long while to run, so I got impatient and set it to the land of Ctrl-alt-del.

    -Ed
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Daemonstar (84116)

      There are a couple different presentation modes, but when you have dual screen set up with extended desktop, your second screen becomes the actual slides, while the first screen displays your notes, along with a bar of upcoming slides. If older versions could do this, I never encountered it.

      In Office2k3 (I'm unsure of earlier versions) you can do this. Under "Slide Show" and "Set Up Show", you can select which monitor to show the slides on. You can also check "Show Presenter View" which gives you a slide

  • Solid Design (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pkcs11 (529230)
    The functional design behind the ribbon was to keep every task to 1-2 clicks only.
    And they did a good job, the fact that I had to add the 'Save As' button was the only quirk that bothered me.
    • by Nasarius (593729)
      Or a mouse wheel and click, if you don't feel like clicking the tabs. The "Office Button" as a replacement for the File menu is a bit silly, but otherwise the interface works beautifully. It's nothing at all like the clumsy, bloated, ugly mess that WMP has been for years. I find it very difficult to believe that someone could think the old Office/OpenOffice.org interface is better.
  • Moo (Score:2, Funny)

    by Chacham (981)
    For people who mostly control Office via keyboard commands, and rarely use menus and toolbars, all of the basic keyboard commands are the same.

    Phew!

    The menus, icons, and buttons are helpful, but keyboard commands are where Microsoft really shines. X (or rather, the Window Managers) still has a long way to go in that area. I'd actually think if MS changes the keyboard shortcuts it would be a real issue, but for the icons, people will learn them easily enough and move on.
    • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
      ``X (or rather, the Window Managers) still has a long way to go in that area.''

      You mean the applications.
  • by GodInHell (258915) *
    Sweet! Radical change to the interface away from the comfortable and familiar to the regular user sounds like a sudden and abrupt shock to me. Open Office [openoffice.org] has served me well for several years now, replacing MSoffice, and costing about zip. Same style of interface, same functionality - and the open document format.

    This is probably a good time for OSS advocates in the corporate enviroment to bring the alternative up. Radical changes mean retraining, and retraining means wasting money. You might also push th
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drzhivago (310144)
      Radical changes mean retraining, and retraining means wasting money.
      Does it though? If Office 2007 makes users far more productive than previous iterations, wouldn't the retraining ultimately *save* money?

      Same old, same old doesn't necessarily mean better, as you seem to think.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Zebra_X (13249)
      flamebait me if you want.

      i want some thought put into each new version of my software. if it will make my software easier/more powerful to use then i want a new and radical interface. i want some progress to be made each time i upgrade my software.

      honestly, think about how many hours people at microsoft have spent over the last 15 years making sure that new versions of their software are "compatible" from a hardware, software and user interface perspective with previous versions?

      why did they waste time on t
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bill_mcgonigle (4333) *
      Radical changes mean retraining, and retraining means wasting money.

      I did some back-of-the-envelope calculations in September '05 for some work at the time about this [bfccomputing.com] and came up with $3500 per user for an Office 2007 upgrade and about $750 per user for an Open Office side-grade.

      Those numbers might look a bit different today but they're probably similar. And no doubt I'll get responses from the "you can't measure anything by acquisition costs" cabal - I'll just ignore those preemptively here with the "you
  • Yes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Thursday January 04, 2007 @11:23AM (#17459156) Homepage Journal
    People will be using older versions for a while, but i look forward to the coming days when i tell people about openoffice and i can say "you can learn open office or the new ms office- both are different, but only one is free" because right now- i have a hard time getting people to move to open office because they don't want to change at all.
    • Re:Yes (Score:4, Insightful)

      by z0idberg (888892) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @11:52AM (#17459694)
      "you can learn open office or the new ms office- both are different, but only one is free"

      And now you can say that the free one is more like the Office you are using now than the new MS Office.
  • by Martin Blank (154261) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @11:24AM (#17459176) Journal
    For those like me that are keyboard jockeys, the lack of menus will take some time to get around. However (for better or for worse, considering how people abuse Outlook and PowerPoint functionality), the new strips allow users to see more of the functionality that is available in the various programs, with tab titles that usually make at least as much sense as the old menus did, and often make more sense.

    People to whom I've shown the new interface have had a few complaints, but they've been more about how it's different, not how it's bad. The quick access to items that used to be buried in menus (unless you wanted to clutter your toolbar with more buttons) actually made a number of people much happier once they got a chance to play with it. These are not Office experts, either, and the learning curve did not seem to be all that great.
  • As long as they havn't changed the keyboard shortcuts I couldn't give a monkeys.
  • Retraining (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rik Sweeney (471717) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @11:26AM (#17459210) Homepage
    Can you imagine what this would be like for a business with thousands of employees in each building who will need to be retrained to used Word. First there would be the cost of upgrading, them the cost of training, particularly if they need to bring in someone external and then they've lost man hours from all the retraining they've had to give.

    Doesn't sound great to me.
  • Ok, so MegaCorp has 5,000 MS Office users. Whilst learning the new interface they will lose, on average, ten hours productivity. Each employer costs $40ph. Total costs on conversion above and beyond licensing/installation is $2,000,000.

    And I don't think my guestimates are thatfar out. The $40ph is based on my (UK) costings - not my wages, what it costs the company I work for to employ me. The ten hours is plucked from the void but I don't think anyone who's worked on desktop support will feel it's that un
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by tOaOMiB (847361)
      And over the next year, productivity of the employees will be enhanced. Each employee will save on average 20 hours of work. So it's a net gain.

      That's why new software comes out. That's why we upgrade. Because new stuff takes time to learn, but in return does something cool, or new, or saves us time.
  • blah, blah , blah (Score:3, Insightful)

    by keeblersbest (242000) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @11:28AM (#17459248)
    Wasn't having to learn a new interface one of their biggest arguements against open source software? I seem to remember report after report after report showing the "costs" to train employees to use non MS software.
  • It may be a radical revision but I disagree with the steep learning curve assesment. The options are far less buried, making them much more visible, and the formating options are all available at the highlighted section rather than up in the window frame. It was more of a change in how the available options were organized than any real substantial change in how the program works. IE you are mostly dealing with the same tools, they are just arranged differently. And for once I think the change was for the be
  • Ugh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @11:31AM (#17459310)
    "It has taken a good product and made it better and fresher. But there is a big downside to this gutsy redesign: It requires a steep learning curve that many people might rather avoid."

    It's an office application. I don't need a redesign, I don't care if it's "fresher" - people just need to be able to sit down and type a letter, or put together a spreadsheet.

    There shouldn't be a learning curve involved with what amounts to commodity software.
    • by JFMulder (59706)
      There shouldn't be a learning curve involved with what amounts to commodity software.

      Meh. I was a Wordperfect 4.1 user under DOS for years and then in 1995 I switched to Wordperfect for Windows and then Office a couple of months later. There was a learning curve involved each time. Same thing when I switched to OpenOffice for home usage.

      If the workflow is simply different, there was no reason to force this on people. If it is indeed better, then I'd rather use that new one. If you are not happy with the new
  • So now we know (Score:5, Insightful)

    by legirons (809082) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @11:32AM (#17459326)
    All those people who say they won't try free software because "it means learning a new interface" or "we'd have to convert all our files" or "they teach Office XP in school" or "it would require retraining" or "the TCO of switching is too high" - we now know what they actually mean.

    "We want microsoft software at any cost"

    Otherwise, all those arguments mean that they cannot use the latest version of Word.

  • I'm not sure how or why it happens... my suspicion is that every new marketing manager gets to dictate his or her own personal UI preferences, as if they were part of the color scheme or branding or something. I would rather believe that than believe any other hypotheses I can come up with (such as that it is a fiendish strategy to force upgrades by making life intolerably miserable for any person or company that is trying to use a mixture of different versions of Office).

    Microsoft is really much worse than
  • A big roadblock to switching to Linux was that users would have to be retrained.
    OpenOffice is not a bad suite, it's just as good as MS office for most people.
    Switching from Windows to Linux would mean going through a learning curve, and most
    of that would involve OpenOffice, the programs that you'd be using instead of MS Office.

    Now with a new Windows AND a new Office hitting the streets about the same time anybody
    having to make a decision of not upgrading, upgrading and re-training, or switching to
    Linux and
  • by TheWoozle (984500) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @11:35AM (#17459394)
    I see the same complaints every time the UI changes on any program that people use a lot: "They changed the UI and now I have to learn a different one!"

    You might have a legitimate grievance if the new UI is worse than the old one, but complaining just because it's different is annoying and stupid. Did you think that you'd never have to learn another UI, ever? Get over it.

    Driving a car is very different than driving a team of horses, but that doesn't mean I'm upset that we're not riding in horse-drawn carriages. Sometimes different is GOOD.
    • I see the same complaints every time the UI changes on any program that people use a lot: "They changed the UI and now I have to learn a different one!"

      You might have a legitimate grievance if the new UI is worse than the old one, but complaining just because it's different is annoying and stupid.

      No, I think you have it wrong. A change in UI always imposes additional transition costs. It is, therefore, a negative on the product. It may be enough better in the long run to justify that, and the vendors job is

  • ..he means it takes someone smarter than a carrot about 20 minutes to figure out, then yeah, it has a steep learning curve.
  • I'm most interested in their Sharepoint Server 2007. This could finally be a great sharing tool for businesses. I work in Pharmaceutical Marketing, and I can't begin to tell you how many slides that we have, and no good way to management... looks like Sharepoint might be the answer.
  • Is it patented? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by javilon (99157) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @11:42AM (#17459498) Homepage
    This is one of the few (actually, I can't remember any other one) instances where Microsoft has really innovated something. I guess they will have it all covered with patents.
    If it happens to be an improvement, and if it is not patented, maybe some OSS applications will want to use the idea.

    Does anyone know if it is patented?
  • Am I the only one who thought that the easy, consistant and obvious layout was probably the only thing that seperated Microsoft Office from the rest? This seems to be removing the one thing I truely thought was fantastic about Office - it's simplicity. If I wanted anything with a learning curve, I would use LaTeX. Familiarity is the only thing keeping people using Office.

    MS will hopefully see what a mistake this is very quickly or people will look elsewhere?
    • I'd also like to say that I would not object to this change as the default at all, as long as there was an option for the old interface. Not having this option seems extremely stubborn. I use IE even less since the redesign, since I find it a UI carcrash and there's no way to fix it.
  • by Erris (531066) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @11:46AM (#17459572) Homepage Journal

    A few weeks ago, I watched someone install this program by mistake onto a new computer. It's what the university is now pushing, so they kept it.

    It would be hard to describe their frustration, so I won't bother. It took them half an hour to find "save as". As usual, the OS itself hid the extension so you could not tell that it was saving everything in .DOCX, the 6000 page "open XML" successor to the previous M$ "open" format, RTF. I can only imagine the anger and sadness that awaits true Word users who have been using all the painful tools that M$ bloated into the program, drawing tools, flight simulator, whatever.

    The upgrade train is roaring on and M$ is really pushing hard this time. It's going to piss a lot of people off and offers great opportunity for free software. You can now say that it's easier to make the move to Open Office for a new system than it is to move to Office 2007.

  • Anyone who is not fully on board with moving to the new version needs to read Enchanted Office [enchantedoffice.com]. It's all clear to me now.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by xrayspx (13127)
      Share this I must -- Madeline

      She better be careful with sharing that ribbon, the BSA might be hiding behind that one tree.
  • by Relden (1030180) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @11:47AM (#17459586)
    The new interface does look nice, but the old menu makes it much easier for the help desks to provide support over the phone. It is easier to tell a user to "Click the File menu, then Save" than it is to say "Do you see the icon that looks like a floppy disk? It is on the first toolbar, third from the left. Yes, beside that yellow thing that looks like a file folder. Click that." Now imagine the help desk person on the phone is on another continent and English is not his/her first language. Getting rid of the menus will make the learning curve just that much steeper and make companies slower to adopt this new Office.
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @11:47AM (#17459588) Homepage Journal
    This is the perfect opportunity for OpenOffice.org to grab lots of marketshare. Especially if bundled with a UI that maps absolutely exactly the familiar MSOffice menus/items/hotkeys.

    MS file formats and GUI skills are 90% of the reason users upgrade to MS without even considering switching to something else/better. Let 'er rip!
  • ...does this new, giant, non-customizable ribbon consume? The graphic makes it look fairly large compared to the current (default) tool bar set. Considering it shows lots of items one, ok I, don't really need to see all the time, especially considering many commands are available (and faster) via keyboard control, is it really worth it?

    I'm betting M$ will be getting a design patent on this real soon, and won't that be fun...

  • It's a Test (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @11:53AM (#17459716) Homepage Journal
    Now we will finally get to see if the oft-repeated argument that switching to free systems is too expensive, because users have to re-learn their skills holds any water. If so, we should see a flood migration from Office 2007 to OpenOffice.org et al, as they will be the closest in terms of user interface of all up to date software. My money is on "no, the argument doesn't hold water", though.
  • I don't know who Microsoft tests these radical changes on, but it is not an everyday user. I have seen many people struggle with Office over the years and I have seen how they learn to do specific tasks click by click. If you change the way to do a task, the users are crippled. I remember there were changes in bullets and numbering around Office 2000, and I saw how it was almost impossible to do what used to be simple. I've had to go in and disable most of the auto-editing features for some users. Changes

    • Microsoft only has to sell to the relative handful of IT mamagers across the corporate world. This crap is designed for them to go to their bosses with new buzzwords (Oooo! Ribbons!) and pseudo-technical gobbledygook while the dumbass MBAs shake their heads knowingly as they contemplate snorting their next line of blow.

      MS could care fuck all about the average user. The average user isn't paying their bills.
  • Compiling Linux is a "steep learning curve". Learning MS Office 2007 requires you to click on the tabs and see where the options are. My girlfriend is a total end user, and she didn't even MENTION having difficulties adapting to the new layout... It's organized logically enough.
  • Microsoft Irony changes the way you work!

    Before, you would use software as a tool to increase your productivity. With new Microsoft Irony 2007 you spend the majority of your time learning how our complicated user-interface works, and less time on your original task! Brilliant isn't it? After all, that's why Microsoft Irony was designed.

    New upcoming features in Microsoft Irony 2008!

    Look forward to even more ways to waste precious time with our update to the popular Microsoft Irony 2007. With our 2008 ver
  • This crap will be pushed onto desktops by a tiny minority of employees known variously across corporate America as "the IT department", the "Computer Resourse Center", "Information Systems Management" or "those bastards".

    Hey, I tease. Mostly.

    But that's why crappy software wins out. Market forces aren't really at work when a few appointed people control the rules and tools a bunch of other mostly powerless people have to accept. It's a lot like government.
  • and the stupid hand-holding and blue, blue, everywhere blue is that the new Vista fonts look like ass.

    Turn on ClearType - they're fuzzy. Turn off ClearType - even fuzzier. Turn off "font smoothing" - sweet mother of god, what is this abomination?
  • by melted (227442) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @12:12PM (#17460144) Homepage
    Don't you freakin' dare badmouthing the Ribbon without first trying it. This is one of those few things that Microsoft got right and spared no expense on implementation. As far as UI is concerned, I'd put it into the top 10 innovations of the last decade, and I do take the word "innovation" very seriously, particularly when it comes to Microsoft. Office 2007 is going to sell big, and OO will have to copy it. Again.
  • by voss (52565) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @12:13PM (#17460170)
    Openoffice will not be not taken seriously until it has
    a)A database program that doesnt suck
    b)A presentation program with all the bells and whistles(the current one lacks it)
    c)well thought out Desktop publishing
    d)web page design tools

    I use openoffice and I like it but I couldnt stop using publisher and frontpage
  • by bigbigbison (104532) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @01:03PM (#17461242) Homepage
    I downloaded a beta and my university has had the final version available for download for a couple weeks. I like that you can set the ribbon to autohide. I also like that instead of putting stupid addins in another toolbar which reduces the room to work in they exile it to "addins."
    The placement of the commands seem fairly arbitrary to me, however. It was like they filled out 75% of the ribbons and said, "ok, let's just throw the rest of this stuff on there." They seemed to make the little windows button at the top the default for all the functions that they couldn't fit in anywhere else.
    They say that they completely redesigned it, but as soon as you get into any of the options that aren't in the ribbon the box it pops up looks exactly like the older versions of Office which really shows that they just put a skin on the old application.
    The instant preview of the fonts and formatting is really nice and the little formatting menu that pops up when you highlight a section is nice, although I wish it would pop up instantly instead of fading in. I forget it is there and move the mouse half way up to the ribbon before I remember that the formatting thing will fade in and by that time it is too late to use it.

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