Naturally you're free to dislike the Office 2007 UI, and it's really none of my business whether or not you use it. But it really bothers me that people seem to be unjustly poisoning something that might
be a revolution in windowing UIs. (and maybe it's not; we won't know until enough real people get to play with it)
The fact is that the O2K7 UI is
customizable. Extreme changes require power-user expertise, but simple tweaks are actually easier than ever
. And MS's user research (which agrees with my personal experience working with users) agrees with this:
Looking across a hundred million or so people using Office 2003, here's what we found:
- In fewer than 2% of sessions, the program was running with customized command bars.
- Of the 2% of sessions with customizations present, 85% included customization of four or fewer commands.
It breaks down like this: in ~1.9% of sessions, buttons have been added, removed, or moved between toolbars and menus...
Of the customized sessions, around 85% of them had only what we'd call minor customizations: four or fewer buttons. Most of these are added toolbar buttons, either from the command well or from a toolbar people don't want to keep up all the time...
So, we took a pragmatic approach and decided to focus on the 99.7% case: people who don't take advantage of customization or only use it to customize four or fewer commands. Out of this goal was born the Quick Access Toolbar.
The Quick Access Toolbar is designed to make it easy to add controls, galleries, and groups from anywhere in the Ribbon: just right-click the thing you want to add and choose "Add to Quick Access Toolbar" from the context menu. We designed the customization model to be efficient but with the goal of "zero customization complexity"; it would be unacceptable for customization to cause the user interface to degrade as it did so often with Command Bars.
So, 98% of the users do no customization and aren't affected. An additional 1.7% do very minor customization, which is actually easier now than ever before. Only 3 people in 1000 are inconvenienced by the change in customization behaviors. This seems like a big win to me. If you disagree, you should probably take a step back and consider who the primary audience of this software is.
Nevertheless, even if it's intended
to cater to the vast majority of users, there's still the possibility that the manner in which it does so misses the mark. But we should let the game play out and see how users are actually able to interact with it. Convincing them that it's bad, before they ever use it, and based on an argument that's an exaggeration at best, is not going to give us the answers we need to better design our UIs in the future.