It’s been almost a year since Microsoft released Office 2007. It’s great, it really is and I’m not being paid to say it. Their Operating Systems aside, out of all their products released so far the Office suite has always been one of the best things to come out of Redmond, ever since Office 95.
Office 95 was introduced during the ‘hey days’ of computing when everyone was just beginning to figure out that using a computer was actually easier and more efficient than using type-writers and ledger books. This new understanding was, of course, kick-started and coincided with the release of Windows 95 and their GUI is one of the reasons for it’s success. Up until then the general computing experience wasn’t as permissive as it is today.
Back then people quickly became familiar with the ‘Microsoft interface’, they understood how to accomplish tasks with only a few clicks, they understood that to perform an Undo in Office 95 you had to click Edit-Undo or simply press CTRL-Z. So of course with the release of subsequent versions Microsoft stuck with the tried and true Office 95 interface…and everyone loved it. Subsequent versions brought only marginal improvements to the UI but the core functionality remained. (For a complete and detailed history of the entire Office series click here.)
But over time thing’s change, our needs shift, they become better geared and the software ultimately has to evolve to suit us. Enter Office 2007. My company finally deployed Office 2007 recently after a bit of internal testing and generally speaking, the reception I get from people is good, they like the new user interface, in some cases it’s a Godsend, in others it’s a little clunky. But it could be a case of just needing more time with it. As with anything new it’s going to take time to get used to, to become familiar with the controls and steps involved in completing an action. Microsoft have implemented this new Ribbon UI based on a lot of user feedback, and I mean a lot. This is a pretty good read if you want to learn more about how the general public helped to craft the Office 2007 UI.
We have only a handful of users resisting Office 2007, they complain about a clunky interface or an ‘ergnomic atrocity’. These are the ones that this article is geared towards. And to them I just have to say get over it. Learn the new interface, everything we do with a computer is moving towards these context-sensitive UI’s meaning what-is-present-is-relevant-and-will-be-useful, it makes complete sense to move in this direction. Even our OS’s are beginning to be pushed through this plastic injection mold. It’s for the better. Keep up with the times. We had one user that kindly asked that we load a 3rd party addon which reverts the 2007 UI to the old 2003 look & feel. We allowed that because we’re enablers of technology not disablers but the user in question obviously didn’t want to embrace the change.
Sure, the new office suite is just as prone to ridiculous vulnerabilities as any other Windows application and it’s certainly had it’s fair share but the design changes are markedly improved and I have faith that they will continue to change and improve as our needs change.
Don’t resist the change of the UI, learn it, understand it, use it, move out of your comfort zone and your own personal shortcut space you’ve created for yourself and experience an application for what it truly is. It’s the way of the future. And you know what they say, if you can’t embrace change well then…
Now if only they made this for Linux….