Microsoft, Enough With The Ribbon Already

It’s good to know that in this age of immediate and easy customer feedback that there are still companies that steadfastly refuse to listen to the people who have to use their products. Case in point: Microsoft.

The Verge pointed to this post on the Microsoft Developers Network blog that talks about the many changes coming to Windows Explorer in Windows 8. The part that made me want to give up Windows forever comes near the end when Ilana Smith, a lead program manager on the Engineering System team, starts talking about the Ribbon.

If you haven’t been following this saga, Microsoft revealed a while back that the Ribbon found in Micosoft Office and other MS programs like WordPad and Paint is now coming to Windows Explorer as well. Did you need those extra pixels at the top of the screen? Too bad for you.

Microsoft Puts Ribbon on Windows Explorer

I hate this Ribbon with the burning passion of a thousand suns. And I am gratified to know I’m not alone:

“We had expected the introduction of the ribbon to Explorer to spur conversation, and it is fair to say the voluminous response was in line with our expectations,” Smith says. “[T]here is a set of people who have an entirely negative reaction to the affordance and have been telling us about it in no uncertain terms.”

And what is the official reaction to the font of hatred the Ribbon engenders is most right-thinking computer users?

“Our view is that we do need to move the user interface forward and accept that a vocal set of customers are just not happy with the direction we’re going.”

I have never wanted to switch to Mac so badly in my life.

I’m sorry, but I have to be blunt: what is this crap? You’re just going to do what you want no matter how much your customers hate it and how vocal they are in telling you so? This strategy may work for Facebook, but that’s because people can leave Facebook or interact with it through third-party programs. Oh wait, that’s Microsoft’s solution, too:

“We remind folks that there are third-party tools available… that provide a number of different interface paradigms. We do embrace the notion that third-party tools play an important part in the Windows experience.”

Yes, they do, because you keep making stupid decisions.

I don’t buy Smith’s assertion that a majority of users like the Ribbon and are more productive with it. I think the Ribbon beats people down until they just stop trying to look for more advanced functionality because it’s too difficult to find. And now they’re bringing that same genius to the Explorer, one of the most used areas of Windows.

Aside from that, it also takes up too many pixels. Bad enough we now live in a world where 16:9 displays are normal so people don’t have to see black bars when watching HD content and companies find 1366 x 768 an acceptable standard for screens as large as 15 inches, now even Explorer is using up horizontal pixels for no good reason.

I fear the only way to put a stop to this madness is to hijack a TARDIS and go back to 2005, find the person who came up with the idea of the Ribbon, give him or her 5 million dollars to retire to a small island with no phone or Internet service so they can’t be contacted, and inject a virus into the computers in Redmond that will destroy all references to it.

Barring that, perhaps a petition?

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