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Microsoft Software

Microsoft To Give Office 365, Office.com Apps a Makeover (zdnet.com) 88

On the heels of recent redesigns by Google and Apple, Microsoft is giving its Office apps a facelift over the coming months. From a report: Over the coming months, Microsoft will begin rolling out changes to the interface of Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint for Office 365 and Office Online (Office.com) users. Key to the Office app redesign are an updated Ribbon, icon refreshes and new ways to more easily see changes coming to the Office suite. There's a simplified version of the Office Ribbon, which allows users to collapse it so it takes up less space and hides many options, or keep it expanded into the current three-line view. Microsoft is starting to roll out this new Ribbon in the web version of Word to "select consumer users today in Office.com." In July, Microsoft will also make this new Ribbon design available in Outlook for Windows. "We've found that the same ten commands are used 95% of the time by everybody," said Jon Friedman, General Manager of Design Management and Operations. In Outlook such as "Reply," "Reply All" and "Forward" are basically universal. But that other five percent is different for every person, so Microsoft is adding an option to remove commands from the Ribbon, such as Archive, for example, and pin others to it, such as "Reply by IM."

Microsoft To Give Office 365, Office.com Apps a Makeover

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  • by b0s0z0ku ( 752509 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2018 @01:26PM (#56778140)

    I've never quite gotten used to the "ribbon" interface in MS Office apps since 2007. Which is why I prefer LibreOffice, a menu system (accessible with keyboard shortcuts) seems much more logical to me than a mess of icons up top.

    I'd love to see a right/middle button context menu that can be popped up.

    • by avandesande ( 143899 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2018 @01:30PM (#56778168) Journal
      The thing that irks me the most is not that they created a ribbon interface but that you couldn't turn it off and revert to a menu system. It would be trivial to maintain both interfaces.
      • There used to be unofficial extensions that restored a usable interface not designed for numpties -- not sure if they work on 365/2016/2019 though
      • by iampiti ( 1059688 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2018 @02:19PM (#56778436)
        Yeah, and it would also been trivial to keep the classic start menu on Windows 8 but in both cases the change obviously didn't happen for technical reasons but for commercial ones: Microsoft just thought it better to force people to use the new way.
        Also, Libreoffice has done just that: Added a new ribbon-like menu system but also kept the classic menu system. And the thing is pretty configurable. Just as it should be
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jwhyche ( 6192 )

          The problem with the ribbon system is it actually is better. People just need to get used to it and figure it out for themselves.

          • Did you ever consider that it might be 'better' for a certain set of people? I am a professional of 25+ years and use dozens of applications. Word isn't one the ones I use that often but I do use it enough that trying to remember where the icon is and what it looks like is #$%^ing hassle.
            • by jwhyche ( 6192 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2018 @04:59PM (#56779720) Homepage

              Word isn't one the ones I use that often but I do use it enough that trying to remember where the icon is and what it looks like is #$%^ing hassle

              An this would be the whole point of my statement, and the cruft of your problem. You don't use it every day. I do use it ever day and so to so many other people. Sure, it took a little getting used to at first. But after that I, and so many other people, realize that it is a better system.

              Where it really shines is on my surface pro, or any other touch screen laptop/tablet. In a few swipes with my finger and what I'm looking for is done. Menu systems on small screens suck.

              • So I guess what you're saying is that for people who use MsWord every day, the hieroglyphics are good enough. But for the rest of the world, not.

                BTW, it looks like your sig line is not true; you responded to a score=1. (Unless somehow it's been mod'd down.)

                • by jwhyche ( 6192 )

                  BTW, it looks like your sig line is not true; you responded to a score=1. (Unless somehow it's been mod'd down.)

                  It's not a firm fast rule, more like a guide line. Besides, I find my self with a lot of mod points and I do meta moderate from time to time. I actually do try to follow the guide lines and be fair when moderating.

                  • I appreciate the comment. I do some moderation (I've never meta-moderated, although I did get an invite, it just came at a bad time). But I do find it hard to be fair when moderating--it's so very tempting to favor posts that I agree with. I hope I successfully avoid that temptation.

              • FFS I was arguing that they should keep the ribbon and add an option to switch to the menu. So what was your point in the first place?
          • by hackertourist ( 2202674 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2018 @03:31PM (#56778980)

            The ribbon system was somewhat better than Word's unholy mess of unlogical menus and dialogs stacked 3 levels deep. Compared to a well-designed menu system it still stinks though.
            When you're working in a table for instance, you keep having to switch between 4-5 tabs that each contain 3 functions you need, and a dozen useless ones.

            The Ribbon is also optimized for people who remember things visually (so they can find the icon even if it's in a sea of similar-looking icons) to the detriment of people who remember things by name (for whom the menu system with actual descriptions instead of just a cartoon was perfect).

            And now that Microsoft has expanded its use to e.g. Windows Explorer in W10, that has gone down the drain as well.

            • by jwhyche ( 6192 )

              The ribbon system was somewhat better than Word's unholy mess of unlogical menus and dialogs stacked 3 levels deep. Compared to a well-designed menu system it still stinks though.

              I don't believe you can blame this on ether a ribbon system or menus layout. I would put the blame squarely on microsoft for trying to cram everything and its dog in to word/exel/whatever.

    • I'm still waiting to see what radical improvements have been made in the last 15 years, and why Office 2003 era applications with a handful of modest updates couldn't still do much the same job for most people...

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 13, 2018 @01:47PM (#56778242)

      The best version of Office was 2003 when they had a menu system. Users who are truly proficient in Office had their productivity hindered by the ribbon, and the slow but progressive removal of keyboard shortcuts that no longer work (both in Office and Windows). I can name several shortcuts that simply no longer work, and for no good reason besides forcing the user to a dumbed down graphical/mouse interface.

      And FFS, fix the search functionality in powerpoint so that it works like the rest of office and doesn't "helpfully" remember previous searches. I got pushed the latest upgrade of powerpoint a few months ago and this is seriously broken. Does anyone even test these releases for usability? Apparently not...

      • by PPH ( 736903 )

        the slow but progressive removal of keyboard shortcuts that no longer work

        More this than anything else. Back when I developed some moderate proficiency with Autocad, I transitioned from using the menu system to command line (keyboard) operations. As do almost all of the power users. And that's true of many applications that have a well thought out and stable keyboard command option.

        Menus and ribbons are what sell the app to the PHB.

      • And FFS, fix the search functionality in powerpoint so that it works like the rest of office and doesn't "helpfully" remember previous searches.

        I thought it was a huge improvement when MS integrated Lookout search into Outlook 2010. However the actual search input control in recent versions of Outlook is in desparate need of some fixing, too. I had to paste a search query into it the other day because it kept rewriting what I had typed into a previous search term. Fucking useless.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          I had to paste a search query into it the other day because it kept rewriting what I had typed into a previous search term.

          Used to be that what you didn't know couldn't hurt you. Now, it's like we need the opposite of user interface GUI discoverability that was nice in days past --we lack any way to *bury* auto-correct options that come out of nowhere and punish muscle memory. Almost always, they're rolled out without any way to turn off the macro, kinda like how we got the Office Ribbon, or the disappearing File menus in non-office MS programs ("Windows" Explorer and Internet Explorer)

          In the past 10 years we've seen input box

      • Agreed. For the record, another annoyance with newer versions of Word is that when I open a file that happens to be read-only (which includes anything that gets emailed to me), the search tool is entirely different from the search tool for a doc that I have open in write mode. And IIRC, it can't be called up by the same keystroke. I can understand why it opens docs in email as read-only, I just want to have the same UI insofar as possible.

    • It doesn't need to be updated, much. Just the ability to dock it on the left or right of the screen would be nice. Or bottom, if that's your thing.

      So many menu bars, start bars, tool bars all at the top of the screen. And so much wasted space on the sides of the screen with modern 16:9 monitors.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        "So many menu bars, start bars, tool bars all at the top of the screen."

        I hate the Post-2002 ribbons (remember when "ribbons" where called toolbars?) but his was fine back in the days of the AOL / MSOffice / IE / Netscape toolbar. We had TALL 4:3 portrait screens everywhere... When Office 2003 rolled out, landscape setup screens were a home luxury and portrait was a long way from fading as the defacto standard in, um, Offices.
        Toolbars (and by association, the icky ribbon) were not bad since there was plenty

    • There are keyboard shortcuts for lots of the functions in MS Office, and a right-click context menu. When was the last time you opened a an MS Office application?

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      I've never quite gotten used to the "ribbon" interface in MS Office apps since 2007. Which is why I prefer LibreOffice, a menu system (accessible with keyboard shortcuts) seems much more logical to me than a mess of icons up top.

      If you hit Alt, you know, the key you use to trigger any menu or other thing in Windows, you'll find the Ribbon helpfully pops up all the shortcuts. It first pops up the categories, then it'll list the items inside the ribbon category you select. And the quick menu is listed as Alt-

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I really wish there was a way to simply do away with the ribbon. Before, I could simply click on a menu item and move between different columns *without* having to click on a different subject and try to find what I wanted. I waste more time clicking and finding the item I want with a ribbon style menu setup. Please leave it to a common menu list like I have in any other application.

    • But ... how will tablet users use the app without a keyboard? Braaaawk! Awwwwwwk! Touch-enabled! Modern app! Braaaaaaawk!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Did u guys finally take their money?

  • by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2018 @01:28PM (#56778158)

    was it included as part of the git deal?

  • the menu options that I loved in 2003. I hate the ribbon. It's nowhere near as intuitive as the very simple menus. I don't need or want icons on my menu bar.
  • by ebrandsberg ( 75344 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2018 @01:54PM (#56778278)

    Seriously, the ribbon was supposed to allow a more generic interface, where an action is associated with the icon. If the icons change, then you have effectively forced retraining of people that use this. The menu style interface uses a bit more space, but has the advantage of providing "discoverable" functions for users. IMHO, this makes it a much better interface, in particular for people that only infrequently use a tool. It is much easier to click through the menus looking for a function than to figure out what all the icons mean.

    • "an action is associated with the icon"

      Ah, the continuing regression into hieroglyphics. One might have thought that we had language for a reason. And now, changing the icons that people have learned?

      I haven't used Office much since they invented the ribbon. That was the last push I needed to move to OpenOffice and now LibreOffice.

    • by Tora ( 65882 )

      Contextual interfaces like the ribbons remind me if VI and its editor/non-editor mode. Although I'm a fan of VI, I know many people really struggle with moded context on UX, and I think this also shows in how difficult it can be to train and use on the ribbon interface. It's just a more complex moded system.

  • by Waffle Iron ( 339739 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2018 @01:57PM (#56778288)

    There's a simplified version of the Office Ribbon, which allows users to collapse it so it takes up less space and hides many options ....

    But that other five percent is different for every person, so Microsoft is adding an option to remove commands from the Ribbon, such as Archive, for example, and pin others to it, such as "Reply by IM.

    Now this is Innovation!.

    I think Microsoft should come up with memorable names for these new features, possibly something like "pulldown menu" and "customizable toolbar".

    I think the USPTO is going to be busy poring over a bevy of new GUI filings in the upcoming months.

  • Microsoft is rewriting Office in Javascript. Hopefully it never sees the light of day. Or maybe they just love open source so much, they want to increase LibreOffice's marketshare!
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Just an FYI you already have OnlyOffice, which is pretty much that.

  • Unless they are making it at least 500% faster, who cares.
    The online apps are sooooo slow compared to the desktop version.
  • Will it work even crappier than it currently does? It seems that with every new update to the webbased versions of office like outlook it gets worse and worse.. What the hell are those designers doing..
  • Back when, customizable toolbars and drop down menus made it all convenient and discoverable. Then, they went and changed it all up, apparently just because . . . another MS screw-the-user "engineering" arts and crafts project. But, sooner or later, people can adapt or adjust to anything, undoubtedly to the great consternation of the wizards of Redmond. So, just when people have started to learn or memorize the ribbon layout and new icons, time to switch it up again. But fear not my dear alarmed user fr

  • by Revek ( 133289 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2018 @04:37PM (#56779530) Homepage

    Everyone wants to relearn their interface every few years.

  • Welcome back to 1998, Lotus 123.
  • I just got used to the "newest" interface and now I have to get used to the changes again.
  • I am so tired of relearning this shit.

  • by MoarSauce123 ( 3641185 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2018 @08:57PM (#56780976)
    I hope they finally remove the ribbon and replace it with a space saving and much easier to use menu system.
    • Well, they could keep the Ribbon if they did a few things to it.

      Like instead of having an entirely separate 'File' menu, they could include that in the rest of the Ribbon as a 'File' tab.

      Then they could get rid of the 'Home' tab (I've never quite understood what it has to do with my home, or even with home base), and they could distribute its contents among other tabs, like maybe tabs named 'Edit', 'View', 'Insert', 'Format', 'Tools', and 'Table'. That would allow them to keep Alt-H for 'Help', where the '

  • by ZenShadow ( 101870 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2018 @09:23PM (#56781056) Homepage

    ...did they just re-invent the toolbar?

  • It's all just makeup. The bigger issues that need fixing are under the skin. Its still confusing for example, when Word decides to move your graphics to some random location in your document. Have you been screwed by the Office365 vs their free Office (microsoft live?) confusion? MS is so large that thete are two different development stream, with separate support groups. Try getting help from MS? Yea right! MS had only produced two good programs and 1 OS in their whole life (Visual Studio, Excel, and D

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