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Sun Testing Ribbon-Like UI in OpenOffice.org

Engineers at Sun Microsystems rolled out a new user interface prototype for OpenOffice.org that looks like the "ribbon" UI found in Microsoft Office 2007.

The UI prototype was announced by Sun's Project Renaissance team last week. The prototype is not polished, but users can try it out now, according to a Sun blog. It requires Java 6 to run.

OpenOffice.org is an open source productivity suite that has applications similar to those found in Microsoft Office. Sun offers OpenOffice.org to users for free. Microsoft Office 2007 currently costs about $300 retail for the Standard full edition.

Sun's ribbon-like UI prototype for OpenOffice.org was greeted with dismay by Slashdot readers. Many have found the Microsoft's ribbon UI to be confusing to use -- at least initially.

The menu commands on Microsoft's ribbon change depending on the document's context and what the user is doing. Microsoft made the switch from its old menu system, which is still found in Office 2003, because the old UI had become too sprawling as new features were added to Office.

Veteran Microsoft blogger and Redmond magazine contributor Mary-Jo Foley noted the dismay. Foley has heard complaints from readers about the ribbon UI. Letters expressing a mixture of love and hate for the ribbon have poured into Redmond magazine's mailbox.

Sun first launched its Project Renaissance in late October to address the "antiquated look and feel" of OpenOffice.org's UI. The project also aimed to deal with the same sort of overstuffing of functions in the menu system that drove Microsoft to create its ribbon UI in the first place.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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