Who Doesn't Like The Ribbon?Who Doesn't Like The Ribbon?
When Windows users get together, it's never hard to find some topics to gripe about. Last weekend at a neighborhood party, our geeky party conversations turned to Microsoft Office and its polarizing Ribbon user interface.
June 6, 2010
When Windows users get together, it's never hard to find some topics to gripe about. Last weekend at a neighborhood party, our geeky party conversations turned to Microsoft Office and its polarizing Ribbon user interface.Here's the gist of the Ribbon Paradox. Users who are most familiar with Office and have used the old versions every day for several years are the ones who are least pleased by the Ribbon. They already knew how to find and use the features they needed to get their work done. Rearranging the furniture on them just ends up in a lot of cursing and stubbed toes. These are real productivity killers.
Furthering the irony is that Microsoft considers the Ribbon to be part of what it calls the Fluent User Interface. But again, fluent users were already familiar with the way things worked; the last thing most of them would want is to have everything changed around when their fingers had the muscle memory to know where to go. At least they can get some relief by pronouncing the acronym FLUI with annoyance and disdain. By this time the Ribbon should be something that most users have met with at least grudging acceptance, given that it was introduced back in Office 2007. Microsoft has just released the second Ribbonified version, Office 2010. But many companies are still at Office 2003, or have only recently upgraded. That was the predicament of one of my neighbors, who works for a large company that recently upgraded to Office 2007 a few months back. He swears that the new version of Excel has stolen at least a half-hour out of his day in lost productivity. There is some good news. With only a few exceptions, Microsoft didn't change the keyboard shortcuts even though they often don't correspond to the menu anymore. Anyone who's memorized the keystrokes for Word or Excel doesn't have to relearn them. Yet this also means that it's not possible to learn the keyboard shortcuts by clicking through the menus and looking for shortcut keys. It is often still possible to find the shortcuts by pressing the Alt key and looking at the floating "badges" next to the items on the ribbon, if they have a direct analog to the Office 2003 shortcut key. I don't find this nearly as easy as the serial search-through-the-menu method. At this point, it's too late to do much about it. The Ribbon is with us now, and complaining about it won't change Microsoft's mind. Yet I am still not as comfortable with the new FLUI as I am with the good old menus of Office 2003. What does everyone else think?
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