[OT] "They Criticized Vista. And They Should Know."

Scott Rossi scott at tactilemedia.com
Thu Mar 13 04:11:59 EDT 2008

Recently, Lynn Fredricks wrote:

> At the time was thinking about huge corporations that have settled in on
> using Office, or various government agencies. Even fairly mild updates, like
> Office 97->2000, there's a lot of training that usually takes place to get
> everyone up to speed. But then there's this ribbon thing. What additional
> value is anyone going to get from this to justify the cost of all that
> training?

If Jensen Harris (Group Program Manager of the Microsoft Office User
Experience Team) is to be believed, better usability.

I saw a presentation of his a year or two ago where he discussed not only
the design of the ribbon, but the thinking and research and that led to its
development.  The decision to change was not made for frivolous reasons, nor
was it done in vacuum.  After umpteen updates to Office over the years, they
continued to get feature requests from users, who wanted to accomplish
certain tasks/goals, even though the requested features were already present
in the software.  The old model was not empowering users to take advantage
of the software, so they tried a new direction.

He acknowledged there is some learning involved, which is evident, and they
also made tough decisions about how to simplify operation of the software
without taking needed features away.  It may not work for veteran users
right away, or possibly ever for some, but it was an attempt to better the

New thinking is good.  It may not always work (witness Apple's decision to
use documents within folders as iconic folder representations in Leopard)
but it needs to happen.  With new thinking, we get things like GLX2, a new
way of editing projects in Rev.  So while new, and maybe a bit confusing at
first, the ribbon thing may turn out to be a good thing and worth the cost
to learn.


Scott Rossi
Creative Director
Tactile Media, Multimedia & Design

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