There’s no denying the fact that Microsoft has been walking on egg shells a bit in the last couple of years after having publicly humiliated itself with the failure of Windows Vista (something that many people still refer to even to this day) and the less than admirable reputation that many of the company’s other offerings have earned over the years. Nonetheless, I honestly think Microsoft is poised for a comeback of awesome proportions. Windows 7 has been a highly adopted update for users around the world and has even managed to make up for criticism that Microsoft got for Windows Visa, the Windows Phone product line has been revamped to better accommodate a larger variety of users (the “Mango” update is especially promising), and Internet Explorer doesn’t suck (as much) anymore.
All that said, Microsoft still has a lot of work to do in order to fully restore consumer faith and show that the company can be the powerhouse that it once was. The company’s reputation is ultimately going to leverage on the success of the upcoming Windows 8 release and Microsoft’s ability to stand tall in the mobile industry by making their full-scale desktop operating system foreseeable on tablet computers. And for all of the criticism that I personally direct towards Microsoft, I really must say that the last few months have made it very apparent (to me, at least) that the company is indeed on the right track. Even as a Mac OS X user, I really must say that there are a few things that we’re seeing in Windows 8 that the minimalist in me really likes. But the implementation of the Ribbon UI in Windows Explorer, as shown off yesterday by WinRumors, certainly isn’t one of them.
Don’t get me wrong, ribbons can be alright. There’s nothing wrong with a nice ribbon on a gift box, or perhaps one of those oversized ribbons that people put on cars that they buy their loved ones. But when talking about my computing experience, the Ribbon UI – something that Microsoft started toying around with in the 2007 release of Microsoft Office (for Windows) – is something that I’d prefer to stay as far away from as possible.
Sure, I get what Microsoft was trying to do. Theoretically speaking, it makes sense that by better organizing options that are already built into the system yet few people know about or utilize Microsoft would be able to create a user interface that would not only be simpler for end-users to navigate, but would ultimately make the software seem more powerful. But in reality, the Ribbon UI is nothing more than an over-complication. Look at how long-time users of Microsoft Office reacted when Microsoft revealed the Ribbon interface. They hated it. I mean, who wouldn’t be a bit ticked off after the interface they were familiar with was completely moved around?
So when talking about the Windows Explorer user interface, the Ribbon UI seems like an absolutely horrible idea. Admittedly I haven’t used Windows for a while (the last time I used it Windows 7 was still somewhat “new”), but I still think that most users will be unhappy with the change.
But it gets worse. Aesthetically speaking, I think that the more complicated Ribbon UI will actually be taking step back from the more minimalist design that we’ve been seeing Microsoft entertaining with the more mobile-inspired interface in Windows 8. Of course I’m not sure how I like Microsoft’s minimalist implementations, but if there’s one thing I know for sure it’s that the two aren’t going to go well together at all.