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Doug's Mailbag: Still Don't Like the Ribbon?

With the release of SP1 for Office 2010, it's only fitting to catch up with your present thoughts on the Ribbon:

You asked about 'What do you think of the Ribbon?' Versus the Office 2003 approach Tabs?

I use both and have used Office 2007 for almost three years now and still can't come to terms with 'intuitive nature' of 2007 vs. 2003. In general, I'm only looking to perform the same activities that Word 5.0 could manage -- the desktop publishing features seem to cloud ordinary work. Mind you I have been in the IT industry for 41 years and was a very early adopter of word processors and spreadsheet tools.

I have written code and developed systems and processes for many of the Fortune 50. Perhaps my legacy aspect is the limiting factor on wanting to adopt 2007. It lacks intuitiveness for me, just as WordPerfect was created for editors and those using bookmarking and markup characters, WordPerfect lacked intuitiveness for me as well but I understood all the crazy keystrokes were customized for a specific industry group.

I would have to think a little more to come up with the most annoying specific issues that I find bothersome, but, suffice it to say, I have migrated to the OpenOffice environment on my latest home laptop and plan over the longer term to minimize or disassociate from MS completely. Ribbons belong on packages like GIFs.

I hate it and despise it also in Excel. I use classic menus for Excel and Word and cannot find anything.

Microsoft should take the 'brilliant' team that revamped Word and Excel with its Ribbon in 2007 and hang them from the tallest poles at the entrance to the Redmond campus.

I've been using spreadsheets and word processors since they were invented, and I was all for making these products more intuitive and user friendly -- not just for heavy users but everyone. The Ribbon was a huge face plant. NOT intuitive, NOT user friendly. It caused an enormous waste of time to transition when working on my client's new computers and actually made the user experience worse. Burying obvious features several levels deep and not in an obvious place was unbelievably frustrating.

If they did usability testing, they didn't listen very well.

The Ribbon is awful. Maybe it's not the Ribbon per se -- the menus are illogical and non-intuitive. If I want to edit the existing header in a Word document, I have to go to the INSERT tab. Microsoft broke many of the things that were working fine (hey, maybe that's why it hid them deep in the Ribbon somewhere). And it's not just the Ribbon that broke things, it's what MS put in it -- once I find that Insert->Header location, I get 25 useless new preformatted styles. I've never used them, and I've never seen anyone else use them.

The Charts and Pivot Tables are probably the things it broke the worst. If there were any reasonable alternatives to Word and Excel, many people would be moving to them. Personally, I did the Office 2010 free trial, and when it expired and they wanted money, I went back to 2003 knowing that I'm not really missing anything. I dread the day when I have to force the executives off of 2003 and onto 2010 -- I'll have my resume ready.

Share your thoughts with the editors of this newsletter! Write to Letters printed in this newsletter may be edited for length and clarity, and will be credited by first name only (we do NOT print last names or e-mail addresses).

Posted by Doug Barney on 06/29/2011 at 1:18 PM


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