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Show Office 2007 Who's the Boss 267

Posted by Zonk
from the not-tony-danza dept.
jcatcw writes "Microsoft knows how you like your Office Suite. You like Ribbons ... they're a given, right? Well, if not, Computerworld reviews some third-party packages that allow you to customize the software's interface. Classic Menu gives you an Office-2003-like set of menus. It'll help you navigate old menu structures to find favorite commands, but don't expect to use all the familiar keyboard shortcuts. ToolbarToggle lets you customize the menus. However, Classic Menu has two advantages over ToolbarToggle: It's available for PowerPoint today, and it includes Office 2007 commands on its menus, a modification you can't make to ToolbarToggle menus. RibbonCustomizer works within the Ribbon's own constraints to let you change the display of icons and commands on existing tabs or any new ones you create."
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Show Office 2007 Who's the Boss

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  • by Chacham (981) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @05:50PM (#18921477) Homepage Journal
    why do people fear change so much? The new Office design is much better

    It's not that we fear change. It's that we're sick of relearning everything every couple years. Offer a new interface? Sure, just please don't take away the old one.
  • To be honest... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Aphrika (756248) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @05:54PM (#18921505)
    I'm pretty much cool with having the ribbons set as they are. There a a number of reasons:

    Firstly, I seemed to spend ages pulling the whole lot apart and making it just the way I wanted it. Then I'd change it. Then I'd change it again. By the time I'd got it right, I'd made it so different from the standard menus that if I used another PC, I couldn't remember where the heck I'd put anything.

    Secondly, this also goes for supporting users. How many times have you told people exactly where to find something in an OS, only to find they've moved it/deleted it/ lost it? Happens all the time with Office. People regularly seem to lose whole toolbars, or end up with a little grey stub.

    Thirdly, it's contextual. In older versions, none of the command were contextual at all. The rest of the OS is - right click, drag, etc. but toolbars weren't. Those years of sorting out the new ribbon seem to have pretty much got the whole lot in just the right place. For instance, I absolutely hate PowerPoint, but in 2007 putting a new presentation together was a breeze. It looked pretty good too.

    Just my twopenneth. I know a lot of people out there hate the idea of being told where their icons and menus are going, but to be honest, I just don't have a problem with it at all. It's all there, it all makes sense and it's progress as far as I'm concerned.
  • by cmacb (547347) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @06:15PM (#18921655) Homepage Journal

    Seriously, why do people fear change so much?


    More and more people are not fearing change and are changing to things like Open Office and web-based word processing. I used to preach at people about the advantages of Linux and Open Source. Made very little headway, because people don't like change. Now they have a choice between changes forced on them by Microsoft, and an old interface (Open Office) that looks more like the old Office than the new Office does. Now I'm helping companies make the switch. Thank you Microsoft!

    Funny, if some other company had vended something that looked exactly like Vista and the new Office, MS would have put out a study describing the very high costs of user retraining. You can only mislead your customers so much with this sort of nonsense before you achieve total loss of credibility, at that point even when you tell them the truth they are not inclined to believe you. I think Microsoft has finally achieved this goal, although why they would have wanted to I can't say, maybe just some inside joke among marketing people. Clearly the company is not run by techies.
  • by Miseph (979059) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @06:20PM (#18921693) Journal
    Can there be a "-1, Asinine" moderation?
  • Retraining and FUD (Score:3, Interesting)

    by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @06:21PM (#18921695)
    This does not stack up. On the one hand MS is trying to convert people to a sexier UI (change is good) while on the other hand they are FUDding people that they should not switch to Open Office etc, partially for retraining reasons (change is bad). People must be stupid.

    Fuck what the software design looks like. The actual function is far more important. One part of that function is consistency across versions.

  • The system which you've described is called the ping-pong style of debate. It only gets worse when people begin drawing analogies or using metaphors, and then arguing those metaphors and analogies in the same ping-pong style by drawing more analogies and using new metaphors.

    The ping-pong debate is not actually useful in resolving a topic. When one side _is_ actually trying to resolve the topic, and the other side is using the ping-pong debate style, then it's called a flamewar. Typically I see the people instigating or perpetuating the ping-pong style as the trolls. Quite often people (usually newbs) are caught up in a flamewar because they honestly think that the other side is trying to resolve the topic when, in reality, the other side is perpetuating a ping-pong debate.

    I first introduced the ping-pong debate in my junior year of high school because, after three years of debate, I had reached my limit of tolerance for the same old arguments which were rehashed endlessly by aspiring legals carrying around attache cases, and dump trucks, full of debate briefs which were not meant to resolve the topic issue, but to rather perpetuate it's endless argument. After hearing the same tired old eye vs. eye for the third year in a row my head was pounding with a headache and I appealed to the judge to look beyond the technical merits of the ping-pong debate and to begin scoring based upon the professional aspects of how the speakers made their presentation.

    We lost the debate round--but the judge did include comments which demonstrated an appreciation, even admiration, of the ping-pong debate which I had presented. Later that year I placed second, in my debate position, in a state tournament.

    I took second because, even though my professionalism, insight, and analysis was higher than my competition, the team I was on still rarely won the evidence weighted debates.
  • by SEMW (967629) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @07:36PM (#18922239)

    For those of use that like to keep our hands on the keyboard (efficient [although not always accurate] typists) running to the mouse is a pain.
    You're not making any sense. You favour keyboard shortcuts and don't like using the mouse, but you complain that the mouse-driven part of the interface has changed? If you don't like using the mouse, then don't use the mouse and stick to the keyboard -- all the old keyboard shortcuts work exactly the same as they did before (yes, even the alt+x+y accelerators).
  • by hazem (472289) on Sunday April 29, 2007 @08:40PM (#18922623) Journal
    No, it's not just "new features" but more importantly old features that they make work quite differently.

    Go to Excel 2000 and put a column of numbers in columns A, B, and D. Hit CTRL-A to "select ALL" and do a sort.

    Now do the same in Excel 2003.

    You'll find that in Excel 2003, it tries to guess what you mean by "select ALL" and will only select and sort column A and B. If you sort your data, the data in column D is no longer associated with the data in A and B.

    In this obvious example, you can see it didn't select all. But suppose you have an excel sheet that has many columns and you want to sort them like you always have... ctrl-A and sort. In excel 2003 you may end up breaking all of your data.

    This exact thing happened to me and I lost almost a day of work because the file I was working on was ruined and I only figured it out after getting very strange results.

    Why in the hell do they take something as long-standing and nearly universal as Ctrl-A and change what it does? Oh right, because if it's a standard, Microsoft will try to break it - even if it's their own standard.

  • by tknd (979052) on Monday April 30, 2007 @12:06AM (#18923845)

    Drop-down menus have been around so long because they work!

    So should the "insert row" function be in the "insert" menu or the "table" menu?

    Menus, in my opinion, never worked because inevitably the interface will be changed and a new function will be added. When the new function is added, a choice must be made on which menu it should appear and if a new menu is necessary. Eventually you end up with too many functions that were tacked on and a huge tree of functions burried in menus. That's what happened to office and now I can hardly find anything because the menus contain too many items are are unorganized.

    I mean, even take practical restaurant menus: you sit at a table, the waiter hands you a menu and now you sit there staring at the thing for 5 to 10 minutes. Who in their right minds thought that this menu would ever be efficient unless the user studied and memorized the stupid thing. It's like reading a book except in the restuarant, at least you have the flavors and crapiness/goodness of the food to help remind you of what was good and what wasn't. In working with software there's no such experience. Click the button, it didn't do what I want, ctrl+z and the option never even had a shot at my long term memory unless it did something that undo wouldn't fix.

    Now I haven't use the ribbon myself, but as I understand, Microsoft hired some big time usability experts and spent an awful lot of time trying to make the new Office 2007 interface usable. Note that usability encompasses many attributes of an interface, and learning curve and consistency (the topics that agrivate people the most) are just a few of the many things that need to be accounted for. The problem Microsoft has, and almost any software, hardware, gadget thingy today has is improving the interface without sacrificing consistency. The issue is, some time in the past, someone made a mistake in designing the interface, but because it was there in the previous version, if you take it away or change it in the next version, people immediately complain even though it is obviously a bad way to do it. Is the user correct? Absolutely, they learned how to do something and now that knowledge is lost and they have to relearn it. Is the vendor or designer correct? Absolutely, the method of doing that operation was stupid and required too much training or effort by the user to perform. But give it up, it was wrong to start, and it's going to take some pain to fix.

    Now you say "give me my old interface." But I say to you, "tough luck, learn it over again." Chances are, at least with this version, Microsoft put a whole lot of effort into fixing it and getting it right. Had they left in the old interface, that would accomplish nothing. People would laugh at the ribbon and continue using the "old way" for the sake of avoiding learning something new when they could take the time to learn the new way, find out it is actually much more efficient than the old way, and embrace the change because it is actually helping them.

    Why do I say this without even having tried the interface? I'm no MS shill, but I admit that their Office suite is unfortunately the standard among office suites because there is no competitor with a good enough feature set. I've tried open office, but often I run into some feature that was available in microsoft (even an older version) but still isn't in open office. Additionally, I've looked at this screenshot tour of Office 2007's keyboard shortcuts. [lifehacker.com] The basic idea is now every function in Office 2007 can be accessed via keyboard. Furthermore, the interface even labels each function with a key or combination of keys to press in order to execute that function without the mouse. I would think Slashdot of all places would actually love this change; it's like the power of VI (in the sense that

  • by kahei (466208) on Monday April 30, 2007 @03:40AM (#18924823) Homepage

    I found the thread quite useful.

    The people defending the new ribbons came up with a lot of good points about things the ribbons make easier -- that's quite interesting. The people attacking ribbons gave me an insight into the instinct to resist change -- that's less interesting because I see it all the time elsewhere but it's an important aspect of UI design and always worth considering.

Premature optimization is the root of all evil. -- D.E. Knuth

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