The ribbon is ridiculous

And so spaketh Mrs Smurf, Queen of Word 2000.

“And whats the point of THAT!?!” she exclaimed pointing at the pointless blob, moments before abandoning Word 2007, probably forever, and going back to Word 2k.

I guess it was cruel trying to make her use it in the first place, but it was funny! (not heard that much tutting for a long time)



Another expert needlessly reduced to incompetent beginner by piss poor user interface development.

16 Responses to “The ribbon is ridiculous”

  1. Harlan Grove Says:

    Yes, but it begs the question whether it was Microsoft’s intent to turn everyone into rank beginners again. If they did what they meant to do . . .

  2. Simon Says:

    You’re right Harlan – My bad.
    If they actually meant to frustrate the whole 500 million user base then it is an excellent UI! (Bravo Microsoft?)(Well Bravo User Experience Astronaut team?)

  3. Biggus Dickus Says:

    I flew out to Redmond last week for a couple of days and on the plane out I sat next to a retired couple from Ohio. Nice Republican types with a son working at Microsoft (not in the Office area). When they found out I was going out to do some work for the Office Team the husband piped up “Can you ask them what the hell they were thinking when they decided to change to that stupid Ribbon ! ? “…..funny.

    Then while there I was on with MS IT tech support getting my system up and running on the network, as soon as the guy at Tech support found out the building I was in he said “Can you tell them to put a G-D Classic menu back in Excel ?? That Ribbon is ridiculous!” …. not a word of a lie.

    I passed both these comments on to my key contact there and he laughed softly. No reply.

    Mrs. Smurf is not alone ..


  4. Simon Says:

    I’ve had that ‘laughed softly’ response too, I think there may be an inside joke going on. And I have heard rumours of very large, very full QATs on some Excel team machines.

    I notice Jensen Harris seems to have abandoned his blog though? Do you think him and team (UEAs) are on the space station fixing that solar thingie? Hope not – It will end up taking up more space, providing less power, and no one will be able to use it, (but it will look ‘nice’).

    Maybe they’ve left Office to destroy another product? (Why do the sabateurs from cult WW2 comedy ‘Allo ‘Allo spring to mind?? Good moaning!)

    Did you know VS and Office have traditionally shared UI components?

    My olds are in the ‘not too hot’ IT bracket, where the ribbon is meant to excel. They just laugh at it and carry on with OOo off the cover of a magazine.

    And I think you’ll find Mrs Smurf is pretty much alone in her tutting capacity! (she used to tut for England)

  5. Marcus Says:

    New Coke annyone?

    Will consumers start hoarding truck loads of MSO 2000 and 2003 to keep in reserve because they don’t like the taste of 2007, even though all of MS’s research told them they would?

  6. Dennis Wallentin Says:

    I like Ribbon UI and I sincerely hope that for the next Office we get APIs to enable real customization.

    Kind regards,

  7. Simon Says:

    I know you like the ribbon, but I wonder given the choice between the ribbon and a UI that respected your (and everyone elses) prior learning, which you would choose?
    btw I thought the whole purpose of the ribbon was so that you can’t do real customisation, so don’t hold your breath for those APIs.

  8. Simon Says:

    Marucs – yep a few of us have made that connection. I hadn’t thought of hoarding O2003 though (and its no longer available at retail). OOo 2.3 is the easiest migration.

  9. Dennis Wallentin Says:


    When MSFT shift the paradigm for Excel UI I was not pleased at all. Initially it challenged me how to update & port existing Excel solutions.

    I spent a considerable time to find paths so that the work could be done in a smooth way. At this time I evaluated the Ribbon UI from an Excel/VBA view and I was also frustrated of the lack of converting tools.

    We could say that for the very first time any previously achieved knowledge & skill is totally irrelevant. For instance, when we switched from DOS to Windows GUI we still could use DOS-knowledge but here it exist a no-no case.

    If I would stop here then I would say that the Ribbon UI is ****. MSFT breaked the backwards compatibility which perhaps is an even more important aspect then what in the paradigm shift.

    What made me switch standpoint is the following:
    My main development platform is VB.NET (standalone tools, shared COM add-ins and VSTO solutions. In this context the Ribbon UI is easier to access and to work with then with Excel/VBA.

    My main version of Excel is 2007 (which it has been since about 1 year ago).

    Today there exist no issues for me to use Ribbon UI and/or classic UI no matter if I develop with VB.NET or with classic VB.

    To summarize:
    If I would evaluate the Ribbon UI from an Excel/VBA perspective then I would choose the classic UI. But when I evaluate it from a .NET perspective then I would choose the Ribbon UI.

    Kind regards,

  10. Jon Peltier Says:

    I’m not exactly “hoarding” the older versions of recent MS releases, but I did get a couple copies of O2003 and WinXP so I could decide which to install on any new computers I buy in the next year or two.

  11. Nick Hebb Says:

    “…what the hell they were thinking…”

    That just made my day. :-)

  12. Simon Says:

    my sentiments exactly, a great use of a great phrase.

  13. Simon Says:

    Another classic from search terms used to get here:

    “excel 2007” menu takes up lot of room

    Yes it does, doesn’t it.

  14. Harlan Grove Says:

    I think Ron de Bruin has code on his site to create a menu macro that could be put into the QAT. How much of a stretch would it be to adapt that code to make a classic menu item for the QAT? How much of a stretch would it have been for Microsoft to have done this? And there’s any doubt that fubarring long-time users’ UI ‘experience’ wasn’t intentional?

    The ribbon exists to make Microsoft Office and OpenOffice permanently and substantially different. And whatever’s good for Office and Microsoft generally is ipso facto good for Excel, no matter how much long-time Excel users may dispute that.

    Is the Access ribbon any better than the Excel ribbon? Off-topic here, but I thought I’d ask.

  15. Simon Says:

    OK I’ll ‘fess up.
    I can’t work out if the ribbon is a stroke of genius (humble view) and I’m too dumb to understand or foresee its brilliant effect. Or if its Microsofts biggest blunder (arrogant view). I just don’t know.
    If I was the big cheese at Office and someone said we can differentiate our key product (1/3 MS revenue) from our competition by implementing a fuckwit interface that will alienate many of our advanced users and developers, I think I would say no, try harder.
    What am I missing?
    I think its more to do with some sort of future web delivery/Saas nonsense than just UI differentiation.
    Access is fair game here, but I havent looked at 2007, being unable to use Excel, there seemed little point in trying Access.

  16. Ross Says:

    >>I think its more to do with some sort of future web delivery/Saas

    Big time!

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