I thought we were done with the ribbon in Windows?

April 2, 2011

So, reports are coming in that Microsoft may bring the ribbon nightmare back.

For those who dont know (from Wikipedia):

In GUI-based application software, a ribbon is an interface where a set of toolbars are placed on tabs in a tab bar. Recent releases of some Microsoft applications have embraced this form with a modular ribbon as their main interface. The Ribbon GUI provides the user interface of an application with a large toolbar filled with graphical representations of control elements which are grouped by different functionality.

The Ribbon can also contain tabs to expose different sets of control elements eliminating the need for a lot of different icon-based tool bars. Some of these tabs are contextual and appear only when a certain type of object is selected, providing specific tools for items such as tables or images.

Microsoft touted the ribbon as the “the modern way to help users find, understand, and use commands efficiently and directly—with a minimum number of clicks, with less need to resort to trial-and-error, and without having to refer to Help.” Microsoft originally implemented ribbons as part of its “Fluent User Interface” in Office 2007.

Well, it didn’t really work out that well for Office 2007. It was widely panned because it seemed to be more confusing than the previous interface it replaced.

Anyway, now we seem to be hearing that the ribbon might come back in Windows 8.

In Windows 8, Ribbon usage is accelerating again, and Microsoft’s next major OS will include this UI in the most visible of all possible places, Windows Explorer. In early builds of Windows 8, this Ribbon UI is only half-finished and, frankly, of dubious value. In fact, based on the divergent ways in which various related UI elements are repeated around the window frame, we get the idea that the use of the Ribbon in Explorer is, in fact, quite controversial inside the halls of Microsoft’s Redmond campus.


I’ve never been a fan of the ribbon myself..

Article Categories:

Mike Johnson is a writer for The Redmond Cloud - the most comprehensive source of news and information about Microsoft Azure and the Microsoft Cloud. He enjoys writing about Azure Security, IOT and the Blockchain.

All Comments

  • Personally i like the ribbon, it works in Microsoft office and perhaps would in some other software, however Im not too sure about its implementation into windows explorer though, it seems that windows explorer interface would be too cluttered.

    xinu April 3, 2011 3:26 am Reply
    • in Microsoft Office the Ribbon menu is nice, because you need a lot of options in word/excel etc. But in the Windows Explorer the only thing what I need is copy, paste and ‘create new map’, not tens of things in the menu. So I think that the Ribbon in the explorer is a little bit overwelming and unnecessary.

      marc3l April 3, 2011 5:49 am Reply
      • I agree.

        xinu April 3, 2011 3:37 pm Reply
  • The Ribbon is designed for ease of discovery of features. An expert user can hide it, by double-click on one of the Tabs, and then use speed-keys, a lot of which are the same as in Windows 2003, etc.; or you click on a Tab to see the menu controls (or double-click again to keep them visible).

    It is a Ribbon, because it can be scrolled sideways to the left and the right (using the mouse-wheel).

    It is designed with Touch in mind, as is apparent if you look at the size of some of the controls and the scroll ability (which supports the ‘pan’ Touch gestures).

    But the use in Windows 7 Touch capable interfaces is explained in a lot more detail here http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc872774.aspx as well as a number of subtle changes Windows 7 makes to the UI when it knows a touch-enabled interface is being used.

    Touch and gesture support was in IE8, as shown in the demos of Touch with Windows 7 BETA that are on YouTube.

    The Touch API supports ‘bubbling up’ of touch events into standard windows messages to support legacy code that was not written to the Touch API, and it supports touch object physics behaviours like Inertia.
    Code examples for the full touch API, show the use of 10 touch points… http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd744775(v=VS.85).aspx

    The two finger set of built-in touch functionality supports the normal programming model via WM_TOUCH or WM_GESTURE messages:-

    The (2-year) efforts of the Windows 7 ‘Touch’ development project team can be read here http://blogs.msdn.com/b/e7/archive/2009/03/25/touching-windows-7.aspx

    And by the way – The 40 inch Samsung SUR40 for Microsoft Surface sees and responds to touch and real world objects—supporting more than 50 simultaneous inputs. Surface supports Windows 7 Professional (32-bit and 64-bit), so you can use a Windows 7 touch computer for basic testing or the creation of touch applications. http://www.microsoft.com/Surface/softwareplatform.aspx

    Graham_T April 7, 2011 4:09 am Reply
  • I think the Ribbon concept is great – but it is not meant for all types of applications – even MS says that.

    And although it doesn’t bother me, I really think that in explorer it is not required. i mean I really on use a few commands anyway in explorer cut, copy, past, delete, and I do a fair bit of drag-n-drop stuff.

    But hey, if you don’t need it, just minimize it.

    Michael March 29, 2012 10:52 pm Reply
  • If the ribbon was a “nightmare” we must be living in a isolated world, far away for the real nightmare happing to people right this minute. No one ever died, was raped by, starved because of, or tortured by the ribbon. Perspective is useful, yes?

    mike greenway July 23, 2013 10:00 am Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *