Microsoft Office 2007 Ribbon still bizarre? I think not.

I was reading an article today about the launch of Google Presentations and the author noted that

I’ve complete abandoned using Microsoft Office altogether, but I do have NeoOffice installed for offline usage (mostly when flying).

Hmmm…Mac user maybe? Not sure why he’d want to abandon Microsoft Office in favor of NeoOffice but hey to each his own. But then he goes on to mention that the Google offering doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles of PowerPoint but that somehow makes it more appealing. Then somehow he puts in another dig at Office with

Anyone who has used the Microsoft Office 2007 ribbon is able to explain their frustration at what at first is a bizarre interface that takes a fair bit of learning.

I’d counter that based on all of the conversations I have had with people who have switched to Office 2007 (or articles I’ve read) that in fact the interface takes minimal learning.

Here is a snapshot of part of the ribbon for Word 2007 (click for the original screen capture)

Clearly this is a different paradigm than the traditional text menu with a graphic toolbar below it but would it really take a fair bit of learning? Options are actually presented more clearly than in any other version of the Office applications. Most importantly everything you can do with the application is provided in the ribbon (preferences aside). There is no hunting through many layers of menu items.

Items are logically grouped (with a text label at the bottom indicating the grouping) and the most important options are provided to the user with more visual feedback. Items used more often are larger while items used less often are smaller. In addition all items can be collapsed at once if the user wants to concentrate on what they’re writing.

Microsoft invested a significant amount of time researching and designing the ribbon (3 years). For more information on their research see this posting from Jensen Harris at Microsoft.

Near the end of his article the author of the Google presentation software “first impression” says

…like Docs and Spreadsheets before it is straight to the point

right after the quip about the Ribbon in Office 2007. Actually Microsoft made it to the point prior to Google Presently and with all of the features of Office intact. The Ribbon allows you to get more done in less time. How much more to the point can they get?

One thought on “Microsoft Office 2007 Ribbon still bizarre? I think not.

  1. With the new Office (the 2007) design, look & feel, Microsoft have made a giant leap. True that it takes time to get use to the new ribbon and to get around quickly.. But once you are familiar with it, you rock!

    We do a lot of researches on the web, and using Excel macros,
    we have improved our research speed in 30%. That huge!!

    Using OneNote have improved our research information control (nothing get lost now) and with the sharing files abilities, now everyone can contribute to the project.

    So to summary it all, we are more then happy with the tools that comes in the Office 2007.
    We looking forward to the new one… 😉

    With the SP2 support for open source files,
    our CRM improved since we don’t have to “fight”
    with our clients anymore 🙂

    The 2007 was a great investment with benefits to us.


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