Some Mac users blasted Microsoft's plan to "ribbonize" the next version of Office for the Mac, while others -- many of whom said they also use the productivity suite on Windows -- defended the move.
Office for Mac 2011 will feature a ribbon similar to what Microsoft debuted with Office 2007 for Windows, and will continue to use in Office 2010, also on Windows.
The ribbon will appear below the standard Mac menu bar and above the content display area in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, and is to be the "core of our next-generation Office for Mac user experience," Microsoft said in a statement last week when it showed off the suite at Macworld Conference and Expo. Familiar interface features, including the classic Mac menu and the standard toolbar, will remain, and the ribbon and toolbar will be collapsible to save screen space, said Microsoft.
"Built using the latest Mac OS X technologies, the ribbon delivers a modern and fluid experience and also gives you a more consistent experience across platforms, which is key to productivity, as 75 percent of Mac users also use a PC," said Microsoft.
Some users weren't enthusiastic:
- "The ribbon has no place on Mac OS X," claimed a reader identified as .Neo in a comment added to a story posted on Neowin.net.
- "If this is the ribbon interface, and it is coming to Mac, God help us," said IHateRegistering in a comment on AppleInsider. "I can never find what I'm looking for. Change for the sake of change sucks. Really, how much can you add/update a word processor?"
Users typically dinged the ribbon for its deviation from the menu structure they'd grown to love, or because it ate up screen real estate, a precious commodity on widescreen notebook displays. "As someone who writes for a living, the whole ribbon thing is a waste of precious screen space. Definitely not a step forward," said NorrinRaddir on AppleInsider.
The negative reaction to the ribbon shouldn't be a surprise to Microsoft. When the company rolled out the ribbon motif in 2006 with Office 2007, users generally gave it a thumbs-down.
Attempts to "ribbonize" other applications, including the open source OpenOffice.org suite and Mozilla's Firefox, have also met resistance. After critics slammed Mozilla for considering a ribbon interface for its popular browser, the company denied it would mimic Office and blamed a blog post that had been "worded kind of poorly" for creating confusion.