Office 2007 upgrade part 2: The Ribbon Effect

office 2007 logoIn this post I wanted to talk a bit about the most significant change in Office 2007, the newly “ribbon” user interface. As I mentioned in my previous post the ribbon is designed to make Office products more accessible to new users but can take a little getting used to for MS Office veterans. There is however nothing to worry about, all of your favourite functions are in there somewhere and for most people it’s just a case of finding out where the button or menu you want has been moved to. In most cases the location of a specific function is much, much more logical. So take a step back and forget everything you know about Office for a moment (well maybe not everything..)

Excel Ribbon

Here is our nice new ribbon in all of its glory, isn’t it lovely? Kudos to Microsoft for their nice design, as with Windows Vista the interface is looking pretty slick. For this example I’m going to show you the ribbon interface specifically for Excel. Click the picture above to have a proper look.

The first thing I would like to draw your eye to is the “Office Button” in the top left corner. This button represents the old “File” menu from previous versions of Office and is Microsoft’s attempt to create a Start Menu style interface for Office. This button will probably be the most important change for people to get used to as behind it we have a lot of the most vital functions of any Office application. I am of course referring to the “New Document”, “Open”, “Save” and “Print” buttons which will be used by everyone who has the application. Again click the picture for a better look.

Ok so we have found the File menu.. what about everything else? Well I’m not going to show you where every single function has been moved to. Luckily for me Microsoft have created some rather handy tools to help users find a specific function. You can download these tutorials here: Word | Excel | Powerpoint
Each one runs an interactive window that lets you click a button or menu option in Office 2003 and then shows you where this feature has moved to in 2007. Once we start installing Office 2007 on staff computers I’ll make sure these tutorials are available on our network for quick reference.

The Office 2007 interface shouldn’t be that intimidating. Things really haven’t moved around that much so to finish this post I’ve put together pictures showing the same file open in both Excel 2003 and 2007. The last picture shows the interfaces side by side and I’ve highlighted a few random buttons and menus to show how they have been re-arranged. The only significant change in these examples comes from the insert menu. In Excel 2007 this has been split up into common functions (such as insert pictures or word art) and application specific functions (such as insert row or columns). Stay tuned for some more information shortly.

Excel 2003Excel 2007Excel Comparison

5 thoughts on “Office 2007 upgrade part 2: The Ribbon Effect

  1. Vista and Office 2007 have both been very controversial moves by Microsoft. Having used both quite extensively I have to say that they are no more difficult to deal with than any other previous updates. The change from windows 3.1 to 95 was incredibly difficult for a lot of users but most would now agree that 95 was the better operating system. Similarly the change from 2000 to XP was greeted with much hesitation but in the end most people end up liking the new version.

    With Vista I think the biggest problem isn’t the interface but rather its efforts to “hand hold” the user to protect them from the big bad world. A lot of the security features are over cautious to a point of becoming annoying. Add to that the ridiculous system specs required to run Vista and you find that for most users it is far slower and clunky than XP was.

    As for Office, I do think 2007 is better. As a suite the different applications feel a lot more integrated. I’m still not sure why Microsoft decided to change the keyboard shortcuts but I’d say from experience that the majority of users prefer to use menu driven commands or buttons rather than ctrl-shift-etc keyboard commands. The only real exceptions being copy (ctrl-c), paste (ctrl-v) and quick save (ctrl-s) which remain unchanged in 2007. Luckily Microsoft did think a little about this and you’ll find that when you mouse over a button on the interface you will now get a dialogue telling you not only what the button does but the keyboard shortcut associated with that button.

    The ribbon itself will take a while for a lot of people to become fluent in but I can’t see people struggling too much with basic tasks as it is laid out in such a logical manner now. The bottom line is that Office 2007 has the interface Office should have had from the start, the problem is that people have gotten used to a disorganised interface which has suffered from new features being repeatedly tagged on the end of menus with each new version. Hopefully the learning curve will end with 2007 and all new versions will include the ribbon system from now on.

    During the conversion we will be doing a lot of work to ensure that staff get the required support to make the changeover as simple as possible. These blog posts are really just a taster to make people more aware of what to expect. As always the change was driven by student requirements as the majority of students arriving next year will already have office 2007 installed and a significant number of our existing students already have it.

  2. Sounds good – thanks for that comprehensive explanation. I’ll get used to it, I suppose. Still prefer my Mac, though…

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