Calamity UI blunderthon continues

Not content with destroying Office 2007 with the calamity UI, MS seem determined to roll it out to every app that stops hopping long enough. Here is a screenshot of Paint in a dev build of Windows 7.

Now correct me if I’m wrong but one of the nonsensical ‘reasons’ touted for the ‘need’ for the calamitous new UI was the complexity and power of the main Office apps. So wtf have they forced it onto little old MS Paint for then? And even littler and lacking in features Wordpad apparently?

Expect a surge in demand for non widescreen screens as people struggle to fit the screen stealing ribbon on a normal monitor.

Well except most consumers will have moved to Linux netbooks (crap name I know – but no-one liked laptot either) or Apple Macs by then. Corps of course are sticking with compatibility mode.

Do they read the computer press???

These 8.9″ screen sub notebooks only have 600 pixels screen depth – the bloody ribbon is 599* that only leaves 1 pixel for scroll bars, status bars and your work. (and the taskbar)


It make no sense, you can’t use Vista on them because it needs too much resource (why? ffs) and it looks like you won’t be able to use Windows 7 on them because they chose to use the silly ui.

Of course you can hide the ribbon, but correct me if I’m wrong but its not actually a ‘user interface’ if you have to hide it to interact with the product is it?

I can only assume the MS see no value in the sub notebook market and see no danger from people getting comfortable with non MS software on these devices. Lucky then that OOo has big/small button options and facility to have 0, 1 or 2 rows of buttons as the _user_ chooses.

I’ve seen hints on line that Windows 7 might be out in 2009 – I can’t see that helping Vista sales can you?




15 Responses to “Calamity UI blunderthon continues”

  1. Harlan Grove Says:

    How about a nice little utility to (1) ‘restore’ application windows from maximized state, (2) resize the application window vertically to the monitor’s vertical resolution size plus however many pixels the title bar and ribbon take up, and (3) move the application windows up until the application title bar and ribbon are chopped off at the top edge of the screen. Call it the effluent UI fixer.

    The most valuable code posted in newsgroups in the last 3 years, courtesy of Jim Rech:

    Sub HideRibbon()
    Application.ExecuteExcel4Macro “SHOW.TOOLBAR(“”Ribbon””,False)”
    End Sub

    Proving, if more proof were necessary, the inestimable value of XLM in Excel. If only every other piece of sh. . . Microsoft program had this functionality!

  2. Anthony Says:

    Even better, take a look at corptax, where they’ve integrated the ribbon into a nonMSFT product to ‘simulate the look and feel of MSFT office’ which everyone is familar with. Of course, anyone who would be using corptax is a heavy excel user, and probably hates the ribbon.

  3. Simon Says:

    Anthony Ha ha, thats the funniest thing I’ve read today :)

    Harlan I thought we were keeping that XLM gem quiet so they don’t disable it in a service pack?
    I had some Win api code that used sendmessage to close the ribbon window and resize the Excel desktop and other windows. I seem to have lost it in my VPC nightmare.
    Yeah I think we need an effluent deribbonizer, I thought a bit of deep plumbing would turn proper commandbars back on but I am assured its not that easy.

    BTW the ribbon is apparently 140 px not the 599 I estimated, close enough though. And the min specs to run Office 2007 is 1024 x 768, although some suggest 1600 x 1200 is more realistic

  4. Nick Hebb Says:

    OK, I know I’m winning any cool points on this one, but as a frequent Paint user I actually think the Paint ribbon looks great.

    But there’s a *huge* difference between Paint and Excel. With Paint, the menu system isn’t very deep, so the corresponding ribbon isn’t complex. Because Excel’s menu system is complex, power users are tormented with the “I used to know where to find this function” problem. Not so with Paint. Not only is everything just as easy to find with the Paint ribbon, it’s also more convenient.

  5. Harlan Grove Says:

    To be fair . . .

    What Paint commands does anyone use often? Most of the time I’m using it to cut out bits of screen images, and as long as I use the keyboard to copy and paste, I don’t use the menu at all. On rare occasions I need to flip or rotate the image, and I’m used to using the [Ctrl]+R keyboard shortcut to bring up the dialog to do so.

    But my main complaint about the ribbon in Excel applies to Paint every bit as much: I don’t want to waste VERTICAL screen space. Monitors are already wider than they are tall, and ribbon interfaces exacerbate this. If I want as much usable screen space VERTICALLY, the ribbon is perhaps the WORST UI anyone has come up with to date. Have Word users been clamoring for a vertically oriented ribbon? If Microsoft believed that CHOICE was a good thing, why haven’t they provided a vertical ribbon? It hasn’t occurred to them?

  6. jonpeltier Says:

    IMO having multiple ribbon tabs makes the ribbon UI less convenient. I thought the Paint ribbon was sad.

    Re the unribbonizer, I suppose it’s harder than just turning on some internal code paths. I find it interesting though that to show and hide the ribbon programmatically, you need to use XLM.

  7. Simon Says:

    Jon I suspect when the ribbon sabatuers were butchering the Excel code base (edit replace commandBar for calamityBar) they missed the XLM (On the ‘wish we could retire it’ code branch). I’m sure the Excel team didn’t rush to help them ruin the product.

  8. Ross Says:

    I’m installing uburton on my old pc as soon as possible, I can use wine for any windows stuff!
    Ribbions are for boxes, not UI’s

  9. Dennis Wallentin Says:

    Simon – Get a wider screen and move on.

    In my part of the world the price is OK for 22″ and 24″ wide screens.

    Kind regards,

  10. Simon Says:

    Dennis the screen would have to be zero cost to balance the zero opportunity Office 2007 represents

  11. Mike Rosenblum Says:

    I’m with Nick: the MS Paint Ribbon looks really nice. Open up the old version of Paint and check them out side-by-side, there is no comparison.

    I think for Excel it also a very nice improvement in layout, but it has two disadvantages that make it a lot tougher for advanced users:

    (1) Drag-and-drop customizability is gone.

    (2) Hot keys are re-arranged, and cannot even be fixed if you wanted to. (For example, the “v” key cannot be assigned to the View Tab via XML, which ignores such an assignment so that the backwards-compatibility mode is always accessible.)

    I got around problem #1 by using a ton of XML code. A can’t imagine many people doing this, but once done it really is superb. I personally think that for the next version, enabling drag-and-drop capability would fix everything. That said, I don’t have a clue if this is in the works, but this would get my personal vote for being a high priority.

    The 2nd issue can’t be bypassed, so you are forced to re-learn your hot keys. Ideally, this shouldn’t happen either. I also think that forcing the user to use a non-standard key (such as “w” for the View tab instead of “v”, as is used by every other windows program, including Windows Explorer) is a mistake. I really think that it should be customizable, that is, not blocked (ignored) by the XML code when assigning “v” as a keytip.

    If these are done, then I think the ribbon is extremely nice. Harlan’s complaint about vertical monitor space has merit, but I keep mine closed 98% of the time, so it works as a collapsible menu system. Btw, the ability to put groups — not just individual controls — on the QAT is really nice, esp. when you start making your own custom groups. The potential for the Ribbon is huge, but the customizability is lacking.

    Just my 2c…

  12. Simon Says:

    Mike I think you’ve missed the most important disadvantage of the ribbon for experienced users:

    They shuffled up the commands in a completely random, driven by pure ignorance way. The logical functional connections we have learnt are now next to meaningless. They may as well have done it alphabetically, or in the order it was introduced.

    My main beef with the ribbon is its an abysmal implementation of a ridiculous idea based on deeply flawed ‘data’ driven by a nonsensical/nonexistent ‘strategy’, that somehow manged to bypass/ignore any and all reality filter. Apart from that its minted.

  13. Harlan Grove Says:

    If you always have the ribbon default to autocollapsed, what exactly is its advantage over ‘classic’ menus? And if I had a VERTICAL Windows taskbar AND VERTICALLY oriented toolbars so that my maximized document window could extend over all but 30 pixels in the vertical direction, how would even a collapsed ribbon be an improvement in USABLE VERTICAL SCREEN SPACE?

    Then there’s flexibility. I could have the formula auditing AND external data toolbars visible and available in the classic UI, but unless I want to roll my own ribbon tab or cram these commands into QAT groups (multiple of which couldn’t be expanded at the same time), what advantages does the effluent UI provide vs classic UI?

    1. I don’t buy arguments that the ribbon has a more logical layout. The hodgepodge that is the Home tab serves as counterargument.

    2. In my experience, when Excel 2003 and prior have guessed what I want to do, they’ve been wrong over 80% of the time. The ribbon increases the error rate. [If only Microsoft would provide a Turn Off ‘Intelligence’ option.]

    3. The most important command, the former File – Save, is well & truly hidden.

  14. Mike Rosenblum Says:

    Simon wrote: “The logical functional connections we have learnt are now next to meaningless. They may as well have done it alphabetically, or in the order it was introduced.”

    Harlan wrote: “In my experience, when Excel 2003 and prior have guessed what I want to do, they’ve been wrong over 80% of the time.”

    I agree with both of these statements. When I would get a new version of Excel 2000, 2002, 2003, I would always go through the new menu options and see what’s new, and move my frequently used items to the top, and the less frequently used ones to the bottom. The obscure ones I would move to an “other” sub-menu within each menu; I would never delete an item just in case I’d want to search for something less common later. Often I would wind up hiding 50-75% of the menu items into the “other” category for each menu.

    I had to do the same for the Ribbon, except that it was vastly harder b/c it required that I do it all in XML. Once done, it is REALLY NICE. But I can’t imagine too many people doing this. I have not tried Patrick Schmid’s Ribbon Customizer, which would have probably been a lot easier.

    I think the problem with the ribbon for advanced users is primarily customizabilty. The advantage, in theory — regardless of the current layout — is that items are more easily grouped by functionality, and can have larger button sizes to emphasize the more frequently used ones. I think the theory very nice, but the actual layout is troublesome for those like ourselves who need to customize it in order to fit our needs.

    The old, standard arrangement of menus and toolbar has some advantages too though: it separates the frequently used items, which would be on the toolbars and/or accessible via hot keys, while the less frequently used items are buried deeper within the menu structure (which become easier to access fast once you learn and/or customize the accelerator keys for them). It’s a more compact arrangement for the advanced user b/c they are less likely to have multiple toolbars open than the beginner.

    Anyway, I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree, but I strongly feel that if the Ribbon had (1) drag-drop customizability and (2) the ability to assign accelerator keys (keytips) without restriction, then the real problems go away. The remaining issues are those of screen real estate, brought up by Harlan, but I think the improved controls and menus more than offset this. The “deal breaker” for the advanced user is the lack of customizability that forces the user to “bend to the will” of the new Ribbon arrangement, unless a huge effort is put in to customize it.

    In short, I am personally hoping strongly that customizability improves in the next version.

  15. Simon Says:

    Mike I don’t think we disagree on any points of fact, just about how acceptable those facts are – you are more tolerant than me. But anyone who knows me knew that already!

    I don’t think you’ll get what you want, as I understand it the current ribbon is user choice/control personified. We can hope though…

    I believe parts of the O14 UI were demo’d at the MS company meeting the other day, so hopefully snippets will start being released soon.

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