more ribbon fun

Got an ‘anonymous’ tip off about this excellent article here.

The author is a well known and respected quant who has contributed some excellent xll stuff to the community. He comes to a similar view on the ribbon as many of us, but raises some interesting points along the way.

The most interesting one, and one that hadn’t fully occurred to me is the impact of alienating power users. I had wondered if power users had the power to sway purchase decisions, and the general view seemed to be that the people in power in most orgs were probably not spreadsheet gurus (but they might listen to them). So direct influence = no, indirect = maybe.

I had missed the ‘role model’ aspect. He uses the example of Photoshop with pro photographers. Adobe clearly gain some non pro sales from folks wanting to emulate the experts, and the fact that most magazine articles demo Photoshop helps too.

I’m not sure the spreadsheet market is quite so competitive, but it is becoming more so. What I mean here is that Windows machines come with a basic graphic editor (Paint), but no basic spreadsheet. But Open Office and the Google offerings are starting to gain momentum…

As a power user (‘role model’?) I’d prefer to invest in learning the products that respect that investment. This has to be balanced with progress/improvements of course. Microsoft seem to be aiming somewhere different to me in this regard but then rapid obsolescence is the basis of their business model I guess. I don’t think that is conducive to a vibrant expert community, or expert consulting business models though.

A boost in on-line resources targeting OOo Calc could quickly undermine the Excel ecosystem I reckon. And the power users/role models, those that the interface shuffle hurts the most, are the providers of much of that ecosystem.

BTW my main ribbon objection is shuffling the commands, (and what that represents in the big picture) all the other stuff I would live with. It is after all just a fat clumsy toolbar.

And those of us who were on the beta program will no doubt recall the impact of the ribbon and the response it got, although I guess thats all covered by NDA?

I remain to be convinced that Office 2007 is booming sales-wise, if it were, there would be proper hard facts to back it up. If anyone has links please leave as comments, ta.



7 Responses to “more ribbon fun”

  1. Harlan Grove Says:

    WillyHoop is perhaps a bit naive in his prescription for Microsoft – kill off shareware. I think that’d lead antitrust/competition authorities to sue, and the courts to break Microsoft up into several companies. I think this is one thing Microsoft senior management doesn’t need explained to them. And in re his tangential comment on Apache, doesn’t Microsoft already offer IIS?

    OTOH, I think he’s right about the ribbon existing to stifle competition through means that regulators would find difficult to sanction.

  2. Simon Says:

    I think MS would do better to fix Vista (technical or PR-wise – your choice) and enhance their current products that sit on it, rather than keep retiring/breaking them.

    I still can’t see what is novel in the ribbon that could be used to lock out the competition. Its context sensitive to the last thing you did, but that is neither useful or innovative. It has a couple of new real-world-irrelevant controls, Its like a menu, but expands to a bunch of overlarge screen stealing fancy images (toolbar buttons) instead of a succinct word or phrase. I just don’t see the value.

  3. Biggus Dickus Says:

    I have always thought the Ribbon was an effort to move away from the old interface (which had been around so long it had the word “trad.” after it – like an old hymn in the hymnal ;-). By doing that MS thinks they can beat off anyone who tries to copy their new interface legally – it’s all about Copyrights.

    The problem with that logic is it would only work if everyone decided that the Ribbon IS the new standard – which would then give MS the advantage. It may take a while longer than they hope to make it a “Standard” – if ever. We’ll see I guess because I doubt if they’ll change direction – despite your efforts Mr. Murphy …..


  4. Simon Says:

    I’m still waiting for the job offer to sort out the UX team!
    Maybe they have my address wrong?? ;-)

  5. Ross Says:

    >>The problem with that logic is it would only work if everyone decided that the Ribbon IS the new standard – which would then give MS the advantage.

    Spot on Dick, I can hear the folks at OOo saying “copy it, why!!!!” I would love OOo to come up with some really really cool new UI ideas.

  6. Simon Says:

    I like the Firefox approach, their themes are very flexible.

  7. Rob Bruce Says:

    I’m still convinced that the Ribbon is beta version 0.5 escaped into the wild. The next version of Office will bring end user customisation, an API (as opposed to the current configuration interface) and more efficient re-sizing. In other words, all the stuff that never made it into Office 2007 due to release deadlines.

    I hope.

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