Friday, June 22, 2007

Die Ribbon Die

I am currently on contract and the organisation that I work with gave me a slightly used laptop that had the Office 2007 installed. For what reason, beats me. I have Office 2003 on the desktop and I am fine with that. I would have reinstalled the desktop with Linux but my stint here is too short for that. After using Office 2007 for 30 minutes, I was ready to throw out the laptop out of the window.
No other user interface I have ever used is more frustrating that the tab and Ribbon interface. And that includes the old Digital Research file manager that was included in DR-DOS.
Come on MS. People are not that stupid. The Office icon is just another Start Button. The tabs are just modifiable menu items. And the ribbon is an over-sized toolbar. But here is the kicker, MS only gives one toolbar for Office 2007 while older versions of office has the option to set up more than one, on both top and on the bottom. Here is what the UI change really about : MS is creating a digital cage to force you to use the programs only the way that they want you to. You can do anything you want, as long as you do it the MS way.
Another trap like this is MS Internet Explorer. People are building applications that work only on it and take advantage of proprietary functions like embedding MS Word within it. What they don't realise is that MS IE is moving target and you are at the mercy of MS. There is nothing to prevent them from breaking your applications through forced updates. Heck, normal OS updates are enough to break custom applications. A standard MS response to suggestions of making the application both MSIE and Firefox compatible is that there is no guarantee that Firefox will be installed on a PC but they'll guarantee MISE is there. This typical misdirection is to move the focus from compatibility (which is the real issue here) to availability. My answer to this is when you make an application work on both IE and Firefox, regardless of what is installed, it will work. I have PCs at the office where the MS IE is installed and can't access some websites because it is an old version IE. Why should the old version fail when the standard built is for MSIE? What guarantee do you have that some feature you are using right now will be there in the next auto-upgrading.
Choice. Choose Linux

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