By this point most of you have probably had the opportunity to either tinker around with or at least see pictures of the new Office 2007 user interface. It is a huge change from the normal toolbars and menus that we were accustomed to in the previous releases of Microsoft Office, but most people who actually sit down and use it believe that the change is for the better.
To replace menus and toolbars, Microsoft is using what they call Ribbons. There are hundreds and hundreds of commands in Office, and these Ribbons make it easier to find those commands. They are much more intuitive than needing to dig through menus to make sure you had the right toolbar enabled.
A company called Addintools has developed a product that might interest those non-Ribbon fans out there. I haven’t tried “Classic Menu for Office 2007” myself, but from the screenshots it appears to bring together the ease of navigation from the ribbons and the traditional menu/toolbar layout from previous versions of Office.
Unfortunately this does come with a price-tag, and that’s $29.95 for all the Word, Excel, and PowerPoint add-ons or $15.99 for each individual program that you want. I am not surprised to see something like this come out because they are obviously trying to capitalize on people who don’t accept change very well.
Personally I think that Microsoft could have very easily included a feature like this, but they are probably trying to inch us closer to a more drastic redesign in future versions of Windows? I could be way off with that, but Microsoft obviously spends millions of dollars in usability research for their applications and I would think that they are trying to show us that a change in design can be very beneficial in terms of productivity.