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Microsoft 'Ribbonizes' Windows 8 File Manager 951

Posted by Soulskill
from the statistically-driven-interface dept.
CWmike writes "Microsoft said today it will 'ribbonize' the file manager in next year's Windows 8, adding Explorer to the short list of integrated applications that already sport the interface in Windows 7. Microsoft's Alex Simons, director of program management, released screenshots of the new ribbon interface planned for Explorer (scroll way down). 'We evaluated several different UI command affordances including expanded versions of the Vista/Windows 7 command bar, Windows 95/Windows XP style toolbars and menus, several entirely new UI approaches, and the Office style ribbon,' explained Simons. 'Of these, the ribbon approach offered benefits in line with our goals.' Plans by Microsoft and others to ribbonize applications have often met resistance. 'We knew that using a ribbon for Explorer would likely be met with skepticism by a set of power users, but there are clear benefits,' Simons said."
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Microsoft 'Ribbonizes' Windows 8 File Manager

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 29, 2011 @05:23PM (#37246608)
    "Nooooooooooooo!"
    • by cayenne8 (626475) on Monday August 29, 2011 @05:35PM (#37246746) Homepage Journal
      Hmm...well, now I have a reason to never update to Win 8....geez, I don't know ANYONE that likes the fscking ribbon interface.

      I'm guessing they won't have a 'classic' look and feel option?

      • by daver00 (1336845) on Monday August 29, 2011 @05:48PM (#37246922)

        I offer you a challenge then: Force yourself to use the ribbon interface until you become comfortable with it, then try and go back. After doing this tell me whether you still think the ribbon is a bad idea. Personally I believe almost everyone who bitches about the ribbon is actually complaining about change in general - so eliminate that from the equation.

        The ribbon is an improvement in user interface design, even if you don't personally like it.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 29, 2011 @05:52PM (#37246978)

          I hate the ribbon. It's been 4 years... How long is enough time to be comfortable with it?

          • by Riceballsan (816702) on Monday August 29, 2011 @06:05PM (#37247170)
            Ditto, I have used MS office in my job for years as well Generally after 2 years of getting used to it, I can find things almost 75% as quickly as I could in the menu interface. In general I know a few people that claim to be at roughly the same speed. I don't really think I've met anyone in person who likes it better. The one thing I don't get with MS, why not make it an optional style. In general if everyone wants to turn it off in a week, you know it's bad design. Also don't reffer to me as afraid of change, I started learning to type with dvorak about a month ago, I'm not quite up to my qwerty speed, but I can see clearly why it would be faster when I get used to it. Ribbon I just don't see an increase in speed, unless your computer is so slow that menus take 3 seconds to pop up after you mouse over them.
            • by PRMan (959735) on Monday August 29, 2011 @06:18PM (#37247344)

              It's faster because I can style a table in 5 seconds instead of clicking 180 times. I can make document styles, page numbering styles with headers and footers that include Heading 1 title headers with a single click.

              Now, I can't think of anything in File Manager that could be sped up like that. Batch renames? Map Network drive with a dropdown of available drive letters?

              • by mmcuh (1088773) on Monday August 29, 2011 @06:20PM (#37247382)
                But if you do those things so often that they need to be fast, wouldn't you just learn the keyboard shortcuts after a couple of times and do it even faster without moving your hands from the keys?
                • by Kopiok (898028)
                  Then wouldn't it not matter what the menu interface is, you're using the keyboard anyway?
                  • by cjcela (1539859) on Monday August 29, 2011 @07:05PM (#37247874)
                    Well, I think the issue is that they keep reinventing the wheel, and the result is that instead of people being more productive with a tool they are familiar with, the changes in the UI keeps getting in the way. After all, the thing one wants to do when using a file manager (or a word processor) has nothing to do to keep relearning the same tool every couple of years. It is 2011 - these are trivial operations we all have been doing for decades, and these things should be fairly standardised by now, unless someone comes up with a new paradigm in how we organise information (i.e. not using files/folders). These changes only happens because software companies wants to sell the same users the same product, so they need to justify the 'upgrade'. Far from helping the end users, keeping changing the UI is aggravating if one just need to get the work done and has no time to spare in the new (and useless) eye candy.
              • by Belial6 (794905) on Monday August 29, 2011 @07:15PM (#37247992)
                Absolute BS. What makes the ribbon the ribbon does not speed anything up. The ribbon is just a crappy version of the menu bar where the structure has been decimated under the misguided idea that the buttons you use most should be the biggest. Any reduction in the number of clicks has nothing to do with the random structuring that the ribbon brings. If you can style a table in 5 seconds instead of clicking 180 times, that isn't because the classic menu bar is a poor design. It is because the buttons you press are not properly placed in the menu bar. You could have gotten the exact same speedup by just putting a "Most Used" entry after "Help".
        • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Monday August 29, 2011 @05:54PM (#37247008) Homepage Journal

          I used office 2007 since beta.

          I wish I could have those years back.

        • by next_ghost (1868792) on Monday August 29, 2011 @06:02PM (#37247116)
          Now let's take that challenge just one step further and add Bash (or some other popular UNIX shell). Force yourself to use it until you know filename/command substitutions like the back of your hand and eat regexps and loops for breakfast. Then try going back to whatever clicky file manager you like most. Personaly I believe almost everyone who bitches about command line being arcane and obsolete won't believe how they could live without it.
          • by Culture20 (968837) on Monday August 29, 2011 @06:11PM (#37247264)
            I use sh/bash/csh/tcsh/cmd/powershell, and I still use GUI file managers daily (when appropriate). Now Ribbon vs Menu? There is no appropriate time to use ribbon. It takes up more space, and is ordered haphazardly. I shouldn't need to refer to the help file every time to find stuff that could be logically organized (or is now just a stupid icon instead of a menu phrase).
          • by CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) on Monday August 29, 2011 @06:22PM (#37247406)

            Some people, when confronted with a problem, think “I know, I'll use regular expressions.” Now they have two problems.
            - Jamie Zawinski

        • by mcmonkey (96054) on Monday August 29, 2011 @06:07PM (#37247196) Homepage

          The ribbon is an improvement in user interface design, even if you don't personally like it.

          B.S. Even after I learn where the options are on the ribbon. Even after I learn the new short cut keys. Even after I move my most used functions to the quick access toolbar.

          Even after I do all those things, the ribbon still keeps me from doing the thing I'm trying to do. It leaves less room for viewing my email, or my document, or my spreadsheet.

          If I were to bitch that "ctrl-f" in Word is now "ctrl-h", I suppose that could just be complaining about change in general. There's no more effort, no more keystrokes between the two. Perhaps "ctrl-f" is a little more logical because 'Find' beings with 'f', but really, what's the difference?

          But to take away screen space and say I just don't like change? 100% B.S.

          It's like taking a pick-up truck and replacing it with a hatchback. For the folks that need and use the pick-up truck, having issues with the hatchback is not "complaining about change in general."

          I actually need and use my email. As in, I need to see the message body of my email. Having "panes" popping out from every side of the screen with a thick ribbon across the top, leaving room for a few visible lines of message is not an improvement in user interface design.

        • You're assuming that those if us who don't like the ribbon haven't really tried it. I've used it for a year now after my company switched to Office 2010. I don't like it. I understand the concept of moving the most used functions to more visible areas but it frustrates those like me who might have a use case beyond this most used functions. Now those functions are buried into the UI and getting to them takes more steps.
          • by Belial6 (794905)
            There is also no reason that the most used functions can't be moved to a more visible area of a classic menu bar. The % used excuse just doesn't fly as a valid reason to have the ribbon.
        • by dgatwood (11270) on Monday August 29, 2011 @06:30PM (#37247526) Journal

          How is haphazardly mixing multiple sizes of buttons with complex scrolling controls and text an improvement in UI design? My gosh, have you actually looked at this thing?

          Putting commonly used features within easy reach is inarguably good UI. Making it customizable so that the definition of "commonly used" can be modified by the user, however, is also inarguably good UI. Doing this, by definition, necessitates something approaching standardization of icon sizes, layouts, etc. Instead, what we have here looks like a Jackson Pollock painting.

          Let's look at what's wrong with this UI design, point by point:

          • Tabbed navigation incorrectly used to select between banks of controls

            Tabbed navigation is assumed to affect the contents of the screen as a whole. It is a fundamental abuse of the metaphor to use it to choose between banks of controls.

            The need for tabs is a clear indication that you are bringing way too many controls to the forefront of the user's attention.

            Most users won't notice the tabs, and will be confused if they accidentally click on one because they won't know how to get back to the controls that they're used to. They will, in turn, file bugs or call tech support.

          • Tabbed navigation shares a row with other information

            I'm guessing that the blob called "File" is not part of the navigation tabs, but it appears to be. While it might seem convenient to reduce the vertical spacing by placing unrelated information in a tab bar, it's extremely confusing. It looks to me like two different things are selected in a single tab bar, which is just plain wrong.

          • Unhelpful grouping labels

            Although conceptual grouping of icons can be useful in terns of keeping related things together, it is generally not useful to label those groups. This wastes valuable vertical screen real estate and adds nothing to the user's understanding. Yes, in some way, burning a file to disc is conceptually similar to emailing it to someone, but a label called "send" doesn't add meaning, and is actually a bit confusing.

          • Inconsistent levels of detail, and non-independent controls

            There are wildly different levels of detail between different features in this UI. You have simple tasks like "Print" that presumably open their own dialog boxes, and then you have things like sharing preferences in which lots of detail is crammed into a single section of the ribbon bar for no good reason. "Sharing options" could be a single icon in a button bar that brings up a modal sheet or dialog box, and no convenience would be lost.

            In general, UI elements should be independent unless you are in a dialog box or sheet. Clicking an item in a button bar or similar should cause either an action to occur or a dialog box to appear for getting more information. Items in button bars should absolutely not depend on other items in the bar for their behavior.

          • Minor variations have separate buttons instead of a pop-up menu

            If there are several UI elements that conceptually do the same thing, then they should be combined into a single menu item with a pop-up menu to choose which specific variant action should be performed.

            Example 1: "Send" button: display a pop-up for email, burning, etc. (Note: compressing a file is *not* an equivalent action, and should *not* be listed with the rest of those.)

            Example 2: "Clipboard" button: for all of the various cut, copy, and paste options, show a hierarchical menu that pops up when you click the clipboard/pasteboard button.

            By making those two changes, you've turned basically two ribbon bar tabs into two or three buttons with a couple of simple pop-up menus and a simple modal sheet.

          • Rarely used UI options are artificially elevated

            Most people don't add or remove columns in their views regularly. That's the sort of thing that you pretty much do once when you first get a computer, assuming

        • by tftp (111690) on Monday August 29, 2011 @06:33PM (#37247556) Homepage

          The ribbon is an improvement in user interface design, even if you don't personally like it.

          It isn't, though it's a change indeed. The reason is that the menus and the ribbon use different methods to locate the necessary action.

          Menus are static. The "Edit" menu is always where it was before, and you don't need to think when you open it. Similarly, items within that menu are static as well (except when the most stupid option is enabled to make it into a surprise.) As result, menus can be operated mechanistically, without thinking at all.

          This is not the case with ribbons. Ribbons change all the time, and when you need a function you need to realize first what ribbon are you seeing right now - and then what ribbon to activate instead of this one. This requires stopping thinking about your document and starting thinking about the UI.

          On top of that, ribbons are pictograms - images that need to be actively recognized to be usable. Menus are words that can be read much faster. Nobody in the USA argues for writing menu text in Chinese, but why do we allow that in ribbons? Those chicken scratches that they sell as ribbon buttons are less recognizable than many Chinese glyphs. Menus are instantly discoverable; ribbons are not - you can't figure out what the ribbon element is going to do just by seeing it.

          This reminds me that people universally hated VI for its stateful interface. But now people laud ribbons that are just as stateful! Does it mean that pretty pictures are more important than usability?

          Note also that not every human is equally adept in recognizing images. Some do it with ease, other can't do it if their life depends on that. Why does MS force me to play "Where is Waldo?" each time I need to insert a footnote in the document? Some people are specifically procedure-oriented; it's easier for them to click on "Insert" - "Reference" - "Footnote" than to stare at the ribbon in vain attempt to understand what they are seeing there. It doesn't help that ribbons are context-dependent and tabs get added or removed while you aren't looking.

          Ribbons also take far more space on the screen. They can be minimized, though, at expense of another delay.

          Ribbons have no hierarchy beyond the two levels. If you need "Edit" - "Table" - Insert Row" you can't do that. You have to have a ribbon for "Table" and within that ribbon you cram everything else.

          What if you run out of space? Well, then there is another horrific feature of ribbons. You click on a teeny-weeny pixel in a corner of one specific ribbon button, and then it drops down to expand that button and perhaps list there the function that you are so desperately seeking. Wasn't the whole idea of ribbons to make it easy to click? How many people have eyesight sharp enough to see that little down arrow, and hands steady enough to click on that arrow?

          IMO, ribbons add nothing to the user's experience. They are an improvement in the area that required no improvement. Worst of all, MS pushes ribbons as the only UI of their wares, regardless of your opinion. MS does that only because it can, because the customer is locked into their product. There are other software houses, like Autodesk, that took a more careful approach. Their Inventor, for example, comes with ribbons by default, but a single checkbox in settings reverts it back to the traditional menu system. This proves that UI can be customized, and it's not a rocket science - and MS would be the most qualified team to do it. They force ribbons upon us just because they can.

        • 3 constants in every new version of MS 1: A new icon 2: A new name 3: A new location. Overall new functionality, near zero.
        • by Belial6 (794905) on Monday August 29, 2011 @07:24PM (#37248086)
          Absolute BS. This is the same garbage that Apple fanboys spout. "Oh, it's because you resist change! You only hate it because it's different and your stuck in a rut!". I have use just about every UI that has been available since my first computer the Commodore KIM. I have enjoyed the steady improvement that we have seen through the decades. I have welcomed change, and look forward to new improvements when they come. The ribbon is not one of those.

          Sure, I can learn to use it. In fact I can guarantee that I will "get used to it". That doesn't mean it is good. I don't see anyone complaining about Windows 7's snap to the boarder feature. That is new, but it is also a good improvement. I didn't hear anyone complain when quick launch buttons were added to the task bar. In fact, I didn't hear anyone complain about the task bar at all when it was added. These were good IMPROVEMENTS to the UI, so while they were different, no one complained.

          The ribbon is bad UI, and the sooner MS admits it, the sooner we can start moving in a positive direction.
      • by nmb3000 (741169) <nmb3000@that-google-mail-site.com> on Monday August 29, 2011 @06:04PM (#37247146) Homepage Journal

        The ribbon wouldn't be anywhere near so bad if it had a "quick search" feature. Either a box or some kind of keyboard focus capture where you can start typing a word and it would search all possible command names and descriptions, displaying the results in the ribbon. The number of commands is small enough that such a search could be extremely fast.

        For example, search for "paste" and you get a ribbon bar with the options:

        Paste | Paste Special | Paste as Text | Paste as HTML | Quick Paste | Paste as New Foo

        I hate searching through all the ribbon panes to find a simple command. A good example another poster mentioned is where the "create zip archive" button is. A quick search for "zip" would make that painless.

        Given the focus on searching in Windows Vista and 7 I can't fathom why they haven't done this yet.

      • by goombah99 (560566) on Monday August 29, 2011 @06:19PM (#37247374)

        Hmm...well, now I have a reason to never update to Win 8....geez, I don't know ANYONE that likes the fscking ribbon interface.

        I'm guessing they won't have a 'classic' look and feel option?

        It's astonishing how bad the new microsoft office is. By bad I mean not only hard to use even in simple ways but hard to figure out how to use. It is utterly baffling to long time users. It's not intuitive to new ones.

        I'm not talking about it requiring a little re-learning. I've tried. I put effort into it. I can't figure the fucking thing out. My pasted graphics get wrapped in these shit sandwich wrappers that defy manipulation.

        I've just punted and bought a copy of Apple's Page.app. Now I just export and import into that. if there's a functionality I lack I'd rather not have it than be forced to use the Ribbon of doom.

        That said, given a choice, I'd use MS word for compatibility reasons if it just had the old interface. I'd pay extra to have the old interface back.

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Monday August 29, 2011 @07:39PM (#37248224) Homepage

          It is utterly baffling to long time users

          I have been using word processors since Display Write for DOS and didn't find it "baffling". It is basically the same as the old menus but with icons instead of just a list. People sort of knew this was a good idea back in the Windows 95 days when toolbars were first introduced to save you digging through menus for common tasks like changing the font or printing. The ribbon is just a toolbar with tabs.

          The ribbon is nice because the icons actually show you what you get if you click on them and are better organised. Finding things is no harder than going through the various menus was in previous versions, except that now you can do it quicker because the brain can recognise pictures faster than it can recognise words.

          It does take about five minutes to get used to and isn't necessarily appropriate for every app, but as a programmer who occasionally uses MS Office for documentation and the like I much prefer it. Previous versions fumbled around trying to be helpful with idiocy like Clippy, "personalised" menus and toolbars that only appear when you click on an image or a table, but now everything is on the ribbon and properly organised.

          • by imthesponge (621107) on Monday August 29, 2011 @08:50PM (#37248724)
            Because you actually used the ribbon interface, instead of just looking at it (or not even that) and parroting the "Everything M$ does is terrible" line.
  • Bleh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Looks like a two year old designed it. Talk about cluttered. Explorer has a ribbon, the right mouse button.

  • Awful (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Moof123 (1292134) on Monday August 29, 2011 @05:28PM (#37246650)

    The ribbon is just awful. Generally it takes me 1-2 weeks to get back to 95+% productivity with a new machine. I am now over 18 months into Office 2007 at work, and still only at 75-80%. Important things were buried or burned to make the ribbon approach fit, so I am constantly having to dig for simple crap like "crop". Ugh, I was hoping it all would go the way of Clippy...

    • Re:Awful (Score:5, Informative)

      by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday August 29, 2011 @05:38PM (#37246778) Journal

      In this particular case, I suggest you read the blog post first before jumping to conclusion. It has a fairly detailed analysis of most used commands in Explorer, and how they were specifically placed all on the default Ribbon tab so as to be at a single-click distance.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        FSM forbid you ever want to do anything not in the most used commands list, if you did have fun hunting through the random categories.

        • Re:Awful (Score:4, Informative)

          by SpryGuy (206254) on Monday August 29, 2011 @05:45PM (#37246880)

          If there's something you use frequently that isn't on the home tab, you can just add it to the "Quick Access" bar... a custom list of any of the ribbon commands you want to put there. It's then one click away at all times, period.

          Or you can just lear the key press for it, and use that.

          Really, there's a ton of whining about the Ribbon that I see from people that strikes me as nothing more or less than someone whining about how ignorant they are about the Ribbon or how to use it.

          Most people I've known who "hate" it stop hating it after I sit down with them for five minutes and just show them how to use it and make it work like they want it to. It's really not that tough, and the only reason they didn't figure it out themselves is that they were so dead-set on just HATING it because it wasn't exactly like they were used to.

          • by Compholio (770966)

            Most people I've known who "hate" it stop hating it after I sit down with them for five minutes and just show them how to use it and make it work like they want it to.

            Every time I use an Office 2007+ machine I have to re-learn how to use the damn thing. I use a lot of different software and somehow I can still remember how to use it even going months or years between uses, but for some reason I cannot do that with the Office ribbon interface. However, my main compliant about the ribbon really has to do w

            • Re:Awful (Score:5, Informative)

              by SpryGuy (206254) on Monday August 29, 2011 @06:20PM (#37247380)

              Um... yes, it tells you exactly what the short cut keys are.

              Hold down the alt key. Now look at the ribbon. It shows you exactly what keys to hit in order to get the function you want. You can switch tabs and hit any control with a keypress, and it hand-holds you all the way through.

              How can you have been using this months or years without knowing this? I'm not sure. It's right there before your eyes, and works very similarly to how the old system did it, with Alt key highlighting (via underline) the hot key to press, or activating the menu control. It's not like it's a completely foreign concept.

              So, your "main complaint" is completely without merit. What's your next complaint? Perhaps I can help you out there too.

              • Hold down the alt key. Now look at the ribbon. It shows you exactly what keys to hit in order to get the function you want.

                You don't necessarily need to hold Alt - you can just press and release it. Consequently, when you execute the shortcut, you don't have to do a combo, but can just press keys sequentially. E.g. in Outlook, when you press Alt, you get H for the "Home" ribbon tab. When you press H to select that, individual commands on it are highlighted - "New email" is N. So, to open the new email window, you can press Alt, H, N - sequentially, not as a combo.

                This is so as to be somewhat consistent with the old quickest way

          • The problem with adding something to the Quick Menu is that you have to use it enough to know you are going to need it. For other functions that you use sparingly adding it isn't really a solution unless you have some sort of pre-cognition.
          • Re:Awful (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Bo'Bob'O (95398) on Monday August 29, 2011 @06:35PM (#37247584)

            I think you actually hit upon the main problem with the ribbon in your defense of it. The ribbon is in fact a great replacement for the old toolbar system and so, when you sit and spend the time to customize the bar, just like when you used to customize the toolbar, you are going to work faster.

            However, as a general purpose tool for finding commands it's awful. It relies on you already not just knowing the command you are looking for, but that you know what the shortcut to it looks like. Worse, sometimes those commands are buried under other commands.

            I do a lot of work in autocad, and while %90 of what i do I do on the keyboard or on the tool-bars, but there are hundreds of commands, many I simply don't use on a regular basis. All I usually need to find the command is to go to the menu of related commands, and read the short descriptions of the functions there. That's what the menu is there for, to provide some insight for the available commands and that is not what the ribbon provides.

            I shudder to think of having to provide me grandmother with instructions over the phone on how to do something where I have to explain to her toolbar icons rather then just telling her the command she is looking for. Fortunately, she's still on windows XP.

          • by master_p (608214) on Monday August 29, 2011 @07:08PM (#37247912)

            I am currently working on a Word document that has all the usual bells and whistles: tables, multiple styles, bullets, pictures, drawigs, etc.

            It is awful.

            Most of the time is spent moving the mouse around and switchings tabs.

            Sure, it is easier to find the various commands with the Ribbon, but it takes a lot more time than toolbars. With toolbars, whatever you needed was there, you just had to move the mouse to reach it. Now, with the Ribbon, you have to move the mouse, click the appropriate tab AND move the mouse to the appropriate command.

            Whoever designed the Ribbon is a complete moron. It now takes double the time to do the same work.

        • Context menu is still there. FWIW, I don't recall when I've last used the toolbar or the menu in Explorer - everything that I actually need seems to be in the context menu - and I expect it to be no different in this version. On the bright side, the ribbon can be collapsed so that only the tab titles show, which is likely how I'll end up configuring it.

    • Re:Awful (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MightyYar (622222) on Monday August 29, 2011 @05:40PM (#37246798)

      The ribbon is just awful.

      The thing is, it's not a bad toolbar replacement, but it is an absolutely dreadful menu replacement. It is so much harder to find less-frequently-used functions now, and half the time when you find them, they are in a menu behind a little button!

      The craziest thing is that Mac Office still has the ribbon - but RETAINS THE MENU! Why can't they do this on their flagship platform?

      • Re:Awful (Score:4, Insightful)

        by hedwards (940851) on Monday August 29, 2011 @05:52PM (#37246974)

        I could be wrong, but doesn't that have something to do with Apple's UI requirements? One thing that I always liked about OSX was that there was some consistency from program to program as to where certain things would be found. In Windows, you can generally find the preferences button in 3 different places depending upon where the UI designer felt like putting it.

        • There are suggestions for UI design in OSX, but even Apple themselves routinely violate them. There is no more consistency in OSX than there is in Windows.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tomtomtom (580791)

        The ribbon is just awful.

        The thing is, it's not a bad toolbar replacement, but it is an absolutely dreadful menu replacement.

        No, it's a crap toolbar replacement too: (i) they removed all ability to customise it and (ii) you can't show things from more than one "category" at once, meaning that a lot of things that used to be 1 click away are now 2 clicks away. Seriously, what POSSIBLE reason is there to stop people from customizing the toolbars/menus to make them work the way THEY want them to?

        Add on top of that the changes it implies to keyboard shortcuts (and just to really mess with the users, they decided to make it so that *s

        • Re:Awful (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Torodung (31985) on Monday August 29, 2011 @07:52PM (#37248290) Journal

          Seriously, what POSSIBLE reason is there to stop people from customizing the toolbars/menus to make them work the way THEY want them to?

          I know that was probably rhetorical, but it's worth answering.

          One of Microsoft's big problems in Office 97-2003 was that people were not noticing features that Microsoft wanted them to use (features that, if relied upon, made their software the only good solution on the market in the process. Extended features, especially ones with IP attached, provide lock-in and/or licensing). So they found a way to advertise the features they want you to use, and combined it with features that are popular. You don't want your customers customizing your ad space. Adding all the most popular commands alongside means that they got fewer complaints when users figured out that their software is telling them how to use it (In Soviet Russia), instead of the other way around.

          The ribbon is the application equivalent of a billboard. It's there to advertise the extended (and usually less interoperable or legally encumbered) features of Microsoft's awesome software, because no one could find them in the Byzantine menu system, and they weren't leveraging the full value of their product as a result. This was baffling to Microsoft. That was its purpose in Office 2007.

          It's also patented. That is its purpose when extended to all the other products. Lawsuit bait. Like it or lump it, Microsoft is aggressively pursuing a patent arsenal in a patent arms race.

          It is not there for any reason other than to serve Microsoft. They carefully test market exactly what they can get away with, the same way advertisers test market an ad that might cross the line with its audience. If MS goes to an ad-based model, expect to see Flash advertisements in the Ribbon.

  • Upcoming news.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Niomosy (1503) on Monday August 29, 2011 @05:28PM (#37246658)

    And alternative file manager downloads soar on Windows 8 launch day.

    Windows professionals and consultants ready themselves for increased profits in tutoring a new array of people having difficulty simply working with their own files.

  • by Nathan Campos (2369774) on Monday August 29, 2011 @05:28PM (#37246666) Homepage
    Better information about Microsoft's researches: http://seldo.tumblr.com/post/9549775746/this-is-genuinely-microsofts-idea-of-a [tumblr.com] lol
    • Now that was a well-reasoned response. Two thumbs up!

    • This is somewhat flawed. It's not simply how often the operation is used, but how often is used multiplied by the amount of work that it will do for you. Also if the ribbon is rarely used, it's exactly the place to put rarely used commands that might put in handy.

      But otherwise, yes, this demonstrates why the menu/toolbar approach is better. The most useful commands go through the shortcuts, the second most useful commands go through the context menu, things that might come in handy go into the toolbar, and

    • by exomondo (1725132)

      Better information about Microsoft's researches: http://seldo.tumblr.com/post/9549775746/this-is-genuinely-microsofts-idea-of-a [tumblr.com] lol

      That's pretty much the most idiotic response yet, they've seen that the menu bar isn't widely used and decided to improve it, the context menus and hotkeys are used a lot so leave them as-is.

  • by grimmjeeper (2301232) on Monday August 29, 2011 @05:29PM (#37246678)

    Is Microsoft taking a page from the RIM management playbook? It seems to me like they're deliberately trying to make themselves irrelevant by not giving people what they clearly want. I guess hubris strikes every large company eventually. They're systematically flushing themselves down the toilet with every release of code. It will be interesting to see the post-Windows world in a few years.

  • One word: WHY? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jb68321 (1123905) on Monday August 29, 2011 @05:30PM (#37246686)
    In the age of widescreen displays, why in the world do they want to waste more of my precious vertical viewing plane with pictures?

    My company's switch to Office 2007 nearly a year ago is still bringing groans from my coworkers (who by the way are engineers in their 20-30s for the most part). We love new things, and we love improvements; we abhor inefficiency and "stupid pretty things". If we wanted eye candy, we'd get a Mac.

    I guess I should read more about their "clear benefits", because we are obviously missing them!
    • In the age of widescreen displays, why in the world do they want to waste more of my precious vertical viewing plane with pictures?

      Because if they put it on the sides, everyone would be complaining about wanting the ability to move it to the bottom of the screen.
      See also "Unity launcher".

      • by Pieroxy (222434)

        Unity is a piece of crap for so many different reasons !! But that one is definitely one. But it is not the same.

        See the difference:
        Unity, 30 icons, all necessary. You want to see them, hence you need it horizontal.
        Explorer: 30 icons, all useless. You don't want to see them, hence you want them to consume less real estate.

    • by afidel (530433)
      I was thinking exactly the same thing, this seems like a major step backward from 7 where you gained vertical realestate versus the XP Explorer system.
      • by ClubStew (113954)
        Did you read the original post? There's actually more room for content now when compared to Explorer that's been around in Vista and Win7.
    • In the age of widescreen displays, why in the world do they want to waste more of my precious vertical viewing plane with pictures?

      It sounds counter-intuitive, but redesigned Explorer with Ribbon fits as many files as Explorer in Win7, and in some cases even more [msdn.com], because some other UI elements were either ditched altogether, or (like the file info pane below) moved so that they consume horizontal space rather than vertical.

      I guess I should read more about their "clear benefits", because we are obviously missing them!

      You probably should read the blog post linked from TFS, and see what points you disagree with. It gives a fairly detailed rationale for UI design.

    • We love new things, and we love improvements; we abhor inefficiency and "stupid pretty things". If we wanted eye candy, we'd get a Mac.
      I guess I should read more about their "clear benefits", because we are obviously missing them!

      Almost byte-for-byte the same thing I said when I was dragged kicking and screaming from Win2000 to WinXP and it's Fisher-Price UI design.

    • by ghmh (73679)

      I don't get it either - the move to 16:9 ((from 16:10 (from 4:3)), and given said move the lack of design to accommodate it in a sensible way.

      Firefox is really starting to annoy me for various reasons, but I still use it because it's the only browser that has a really good horizontal tabs option

      To be fair, the ribbon probably improves a low end users general experience, but for those of us at the other end of the spectrum, changes of late mainly seem to be for the worse.

    • Re:One word: WHY? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Volante3192 (953645) on Monday August 29, 2011 @06:08PM (#37247208)

      I particularly like this graphic:
      http://blogs.msdn.com/cfs-filesystemfile.ashx/__key/communityserver-blogs-components-weblogfiles/00-00-01-29-43-metablogapi/8422.Figure-21-_2D00_-Real-Estate-comparison_5F00_2.png [msdn.com]

      You get to see TWO MORE FILES!!!! with the ribbon...
      Except if you streamline your W7 explorer you'll get about 6 back.
      Let's compare the most streamlined W8 layout to the least streamlined W7 one! MARKETING!!

  • Good Idea (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mkkohls (2386704) on Monday August 29, 2011 @05:31PM (#37246706)
    I know a lot of people hate it, I did the first time I used it, but I now think the ribbon is actually a better interface. Once you know where things are it does make you work faster. Especially when you are using items that are in the same tab of the ribbon, or same menu of the old style. While there may not be as many benefits to the ribbon in explorer as there were in Office, I'm all for them putting it everywhere they can.
    • The number of options available in a file manager are considerably less than those available in an average word processor. I see little enough to be gained here.

      But hey, as long as they bring a proper fucking up level button, it will be a huge improvement over the abortion that Windows Explorer has become.

    • by drolli (522659)

      Once you know where things are keyboards bindings are the fastest.

    • Word is famous for being able to do 1000 things to a document, but the interface makes it faster to only do 3-4 of those tasks, and make it frustratingly agonizing to find some little known feature, which pisses me off, ruins my experience, and blows all the efficiency I just gained on complaining and hunting for what I needed.

      A Ribbon would be great if word only did about 50 things, but then that's the problem, word is bloated and crazy. They've put the right interface onto the wrong product.

      Then again, a Ribbon on Explorer might not be bad, because it really only does 50 things.

  • by Baloroth (2370816) on Monday August 29, 2011 @05:35PM (#37246740)

    This will, of course, cause massive outcry, but I suspect it will end up being an improvement. Although since there are very few things you really need the menu for in a GUI file manager, I'm not sure I see the point. I honestly don't remember the last time I used the Explorer file manager menu, it was probably just to see hidden files. Everything else is done with the mouse and left/right clicks.

    Actually looking at the screen shot, the main problem might end up being wasted screen space for the ribbon. 7 managed to stay out of the way pretty well, and I honestly think an absolute minimalist approach is best for file managers (unless you let me code scripts for file management...). Like I say, besides the file tree little to nothing else is needed in a file manager with two button mice and keyboard shortcuts.

  • Bad Design (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ludomancer (921940) on Monday August 29, 2011 @05:35PM (#37246742)

    No matter how you look at it, Ribbons are inefficient, badly designed UI elements.

    Microsoft continues to floor me with how valiantly they push that envelope toward a cliff.

    • Really? What are your metrics? Because the link (which I'm guessing you didn't read) provides a convincing argument based on actual user data why the ribbon is a better UI. Let me guess, your argument boils down to "I'm used to doing things a certain way and can't accommodate change in my life."
      • Metrics:

        Height of menu, 15 pixels
        Height of Ribbon, 60-80 pixels

        That about sums it up.

        The biggest gripe is that it's not 'optional'. We're talking about nothing more than the GUI here, not the actually commands. And we aren't allowed to change it. It does say this will be the most customizable version since XP so here's hoping we can make it 'look' like XP. If it ain't broke...
      • Does it say why the ribbon was imposed on users with no way to switch back to the UI they were familiar with? Why should users have to learn a new and confusing interface just because Microsoft think it's cool? I used to be pretty quick with Word and Excel, now I have to Google to find out how to do stuff that I used to be able to do in my sleep. I can accomodate change when I can see a clear advantage; the ribbon provides no clear advantage.

  • by Haedrian (1676506) on Monday August 29, 2011 @05:38PM (#37246776)

    Ribbons are ok if you want to have large menus with few sub elements which need to be large and look important.

    For Office, they do what they're meant to do. For paint, they're horrible.

    For this they're beyond description. When i use explorer I want to see all the elements that I can, and I right click to do what I want. Putting a huge bar at the top with colourful icons will only serve for more 'accidents' and less people knowing about the right menu. Please. No.

    • by Haedrian (1676506)

      The irony is that they put a graph:

      Which says that 55% of commands are right click, 30-something are from hotkeys and a bit more 10% use the Command Bar.

      Solution: SHOVE EVERYTHING INTO THE COMMAND BAR.

      • You forgot to mention the bit in TFA where out of 10 most used commands, only 2 are even available on the command bar. When user can't find what he wants there 4 times out of 5 (and can find every single of those commands in the context menu), is there any surprise that command bar quickly becomes neglected even among casual users?

  • Microsoft is using uploads of your screen sizes in the section "Designing for a Wider Screen" ("we dug up some more telemetry data for Windows 7"), which the EULA allows them.

    Are there any reliable controls on what else they can upload?

  • by Allicorn (175921) on Monday August 29, 2011 @05:41PM (#37246824) Homepage

    The Ribbon is an abomination.

    However, interesting little suggestion in TFA is that there is a "quick access toolbar" which basically looks... like an Explorer toolbar. You can customize anything onto it you like. And you can minimize the Ribbon, folding down into something that looks... like a menu.

    So, it /may/ be survivable.

  • Everyone will be skipping Windows 8. Seems like every other version of Windows is determined by boneheads with a barely functional magic 8 ball.

  • Oh sure there are clear benefits. For people who have no idea what they're doing and don't realize you can ctrl-c/ctrl-v files.

    And how can you possibly think that's a clear layout, even for those people? Maybe we should slap some more separators in there, the more separators you add the better it gets.

    On the positive side, if you can collapse those tabs like you can in Office, at least you can hide the mess and do everything with keyboard controls.

  • Total Commander (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Xian97 (714198) on Monday August 29, 2011 @05:48PM (#37246928)
    I have been using Total Commander [ghisler.com] since Windows 3.1 as a file manager. Every version of the Windows File Manager and Explorer seems very limited to what I can do with Total Commander.

    This new one even looks like it is a step backwards yet again. I hate the ribbon interfaces in Office 2007 and used a third party addon to get the old menus back, so I doubt if I will like the Windows 8 ribbons any better.
  • by DrXym (126579) on Monday August 29, 2011 @05:50PM (#37246948)
    But I just can't. I realise it's all logically ordered, with task centric tabs and all the actions right there to hand. But my day is filled will little brain farts because the buttons I want to access are not visible until I figure out the "task" they belong to. So I have to click on the tab and then the button (hopefull) appears and I click somewhere else. And invariably I have to flip to another tab straight after and I end up moving the mouse around and clicking a lot more than I would if there was a context sensitive toolbar.

    It just seems so much slower than toolbars. Not to say toolbars don't have their own issues but ribbons can be downright annoying.

  • WHY? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Un pobre guey (593801) on Monday August 29, 2011 @06:15PM (#37247308) Homepage
    Why, why, why, why, WHY?
  • by joh (27088) on Monday August 29, 2011 @06:34PM (#37247572)

    It's the fscking Explorer they have bolted it on. The same with Office: The ribbon is actually not a bad idea, but if the whole app is just a pile of functionality with no rhyme or reason to it, the ribbon just feels bad. The fact that the whole UI design is bland and confusing (especially since everything seems to be colored areas and text and pale symbols with no clear definition of what is content and what is tools) doesn't help of course.

    Since XP Microsoft seems to be on a rampage to make every window look like a webpage where you have to hover over, click, double-click, right-click and drag everything to find out what happens.

  • by johnlcallaway (165670) on Monday August 29, 2011 @07:04PM (#37247864)
    ... OFFER BOTH OF THEM!!!!

    Jeez .. would it really take that much more to keep the EXISTING MENUS but add an option to use a ribbon for those that like them or are new users??? I thought Windows and C++ was supposed to support some type of modular programming, it should be a piece of cake to chose one widget over another one. Just plug it in. I know it's pretty easy in Java to do it.....

    Any benefit from ribbons (which I haven't seen any yet) is lost from me not being able to find stuff. Excel was just plain nasty trying to find things in. I still have a difficult time finding things that I don't use very often, but had used enough to make some sense about why they were in a specific menu.
  • by Ken_g6 (775014) on Monday August 29, 2011 @08:00PM (#37248350) Homepage

    Quick, what's the latest, hottest, browser out there? Google Chrome.

    What's Google Chrome's strength? It hides the menus and stuff, and only shows bookmarks when you're most likely to want them.

    So, does Microsoft design a file manager that works like Chrome, hiding the most unusual features deep in menus?

    No! They spill everything out in a giant mass of buttons.

    /facepalm

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