Office 2007

I havent had a pop at 2007 for a while, so here we go, well try to anyway…

As some of you may have gathered I’m not personally a big fan of the ribbon (ef)’Fluent UI’ I think is the official title, but I prefer ‘fat clumsy toolbar’. Now, I know some people prefer it and thats great for them, me, I wish there was a proper classic UI, not that it actually matters to me, none of my paying clients are showing any signs of migrating to 2007.

Anyway Microsoft released some financials recently which gave analysts the opportunity to assess the early performance of Vista and Office 2007. Great, I thought, a chance to see how much ‘damage’ the fct (fat clumsy…) is doing to the bottom line.

Well the stuff I’ve read seems to suggest Vista is not doing as well as might be expected, but Office is doing well. One view was that this was primarily non-corporates, and adoption by businesses was slow. Another possible explanation is Sharepoint is doing so well its covering for weak performance in the ribbon ‘enhanced’ apps.

Another view might be that I am wrong, and that the fct has actually improved sales.

Of course its impossible to say for sure. One way to really see the value of the ribbon would have been to include a classic option and collect the User Experience clicks to establish which most people were using.

BTW did you know that the User Experience program is partly to blame for the fct in the first place? Most switched-on users and most sys admins disabled that ‘Tell MS about my usage’ option that you get on installing Office XP and 2003 so they only got clicks from less experienced users.

I guess the way I see it is we did well to have an ‘intermediate-to-developer’ style UI in Excel up to 2003. And moving forward it has a beginners UI.

This is almost my last post that is significantly about the ribbon, unless something exciting happens.




13 Responses to “Office 2007”

  1. Rob Bruce Says:

    “BTW did you know that the User Experience program is partly to blame for the fct in the first place? Most switched-on users and most sys admins disabled that ‘Tell MS about my usage’ option that you get on installing Office XP and 2003 so they only got clicks from less experienced users.”

    Are you seriously suggesting that they didn’t compensate for this skew in their analysis? If this is true then I’m utterly speechless.

  2. MikeC Says:

    Rob – you can’t work in any type of stats environment….

    The Rules:
    1. If the numbers support your theory, leave them alone.
    2. If the numbers don’t support your theory, change them.
    3. If, after changing them, the numbers STILL don’t support your theory, introduce an “external factor” line of reasoning that explains it.
    4. If, still, your theory isn’t supported, complain that the data integrity is shot to hell and that the numbers don’t mean anything*.

    * A really good “spinner” can use the data integrity argument to show that the theory is true because the bad data disproves the theory. I kid you not, I have seen this happen and be believed because the audience wanted to see the theory vindicated.

    MS will shift more copies catering to the less-advanced user. There are more of them, and the UE program gives MS the data to support their theory that they’re looking after the customer base that told them “this is what we want.”


    PS Simon: have you been trying to use 2k7 today?? Or just overdoing it on the coffee? =;-)

  3. Jon Peltier Says:

    Rob –

    My impression while discussing this with the Office Interface guys is that they were aware of it, but not really Aware of it.

    Incidentally, this is known in statistical circles as “adverse selection”. For example, don’t survey the summer students about the quality of the school. They are taking summer classes to try to rescue their flagging marks. They are not a random sample or representative slice of the school’s students (i.e., user base).

    Mike –

    I think the mere mention of Office 2007 and the Ribbon provokes a conditioned response in Simon. Like Pavlov’s dogs at the sound of the bell, Simon starts salivating and growling.

  4. Simon Says:

    reading this they have skewed it the other way:

    I don’t have non public knowledge, and no one has ever given me a straight answer to the ‘did you correct for power users/corporations disabling UE clicks?’ question.

    Actually it looks like they brought Mikes rule 3 into play, ‘Office 2k3 = power user’.

    Mike no I’m not using 2k7 just clearing a backlog of moans before I go to Seattle next week.
    I am planning on stopping whining about the UI now and moving on to (hopefully) more interesting content.

  5. Simon Says:

    Jon thats not fair (woof), I have my opinions which I share frankly (and regularly!) but there is lots I like about Office 2007. Everyone else has theirs that they are welcome to share too.

    My comment saying I had moved on would have gone above yours if it hadn’t got tagged as spam (!).

  6. Dennis Wallentin Says:

    “I am planning on stopping whining about the UI now and moving on to (hopefully) more interesting content.”

    Thank You :)

    However, I do hope we can continue the discussions about best practice and strategies for implementing customized solutions in Ribbon UI. I can see different scenarios for different implementations but as with everything else we can all benefit of a public discussion.

    Kind regards,

  7. Jon Peltier Says:

    “Actually it looks like they brought Mikes rule 3 into play, ‘Office 2k3 = power user’.” (Also larger monitors and newer computers = greater proficiency.)

    How are these power user rules? Any Mom or Pop who bought a new computer since 2003 had Office 2003 installed by default as a trial version. They would most likely pay to make the install permanent rather than figure out if they still had the old CDs for Office 95 or whatever they had been using. And if it is their first computer, there’s no choice.

    A great many power users work in corporations which do not upgrade every new version of Office. Many of my clients are still using 2000. Are they less proficient than my mother, who uses IE7 to read the newspaper and Word 2003 to print out recipes? My parents each have shiny computers less than two years old. When I worked for a large corporation, it was rare to get a new computer within three years of the previous one.

    “Adverse selection” and misinterpretation of statistics.

  8. Simon Says:

    Jon – we agree, I just obviously havent explained myself very well.
    Here is what I meant:
    I think the UE clicks were mainly from beginners and private ‘mom and pop’ types. Most corps (where many power users are) and the switched on IT types (also probably very IT literate) turned it off (or are using a non UE version of Excel).
    In Jensens post he seems to suggest that MS (not me) decided the UE clicks were from power users because they were from 2k3 and had big screens. I (like you) am not convinced these are the signs of a power user, for the same reasons as you.
    So it seems to me MS introduced an external factor (Mikes rule 3) that the clicks they were seeing were from power users and as a consequence dumbed things down too far.
    Or more likely they chose the UI for some other reasons, then used the UE clicks to justify it, which needed some ‘ “Adverse selection” and misinterpretation of statistics.’ to look right.

  9. Jon Peltier Says:

    Simon –

    I wasn’t clear in my flame. I knew you were quoting MS. I was flaming what you quoted.

    I agree that they decided what they were going to do, then justified it with numbers at hand. When they got negative feedback during the beta, it was too late to do very much.

  10. Simon Says:

    Sorry for the misunderstanding Jon – I just wanted to be sure no one thought I believed something that silly.

  11. Charles Says:

    Another major distortion in the UE stats is that they ignored commandbar customisation through VBA.

  12. Simon Says:

    Are you saying they ignored every add-in/workbook that creates menus on open and removes them on close via VBA?
    I hadn’t realised that!
    oh dear!

  13. Jon Peltier Says:

    That’s what he’s saying. I was surprised to read this on the Office UI blog. My UI customizations are handled by my personal.xls, so apparently I am not included in many user UI customization stats.

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