Ribbon reaching beyond Office

September 16th, 2008

The ribbon component is quickly becoming the new standard for Microsoft applications. A significant break away from the traditional menu-toolbar approach that has reached its scalability limit faced with ever-increasing amount of features in the Office suite, it is poised to become the main UI concept in the upcoming Microsoft products.

Speaking at Office System Developer Conference in February 2008, Bill Gates said:

We in the next version of Windows will be using this Fluent [Ribbon] UI quite a bit across a number of applications. […] It turns out it’s a user interface that works very well for the pen and touch [interfaces] as well as being a better way of revealing application functionality.

In his interview, Richard Wolf, general manager of the Microsoft Office Graphics Division detailed the plans for using Ribbon in Visio:

Well, we’ll be announcing that the next version of Visio will feature the new Office “fluent” user interface, or ribbon, which I know has been something many users have been asking us about, so again it’s a question of delivering on what our customers tell us is important to them. The ribbon is key because it allows us to expose more of the functionality of the product. […] The other key benefit that customers will get from the ribbon is a similar way of working to their other Office tools that will make it easier for new users to get up to speed with Visio.

And the recent news confirm the words of Bill Gates. Stephen Chapman has played with an interim build of Windows 7 (next version of Windows OS), and he reports that both Paint and WordPad are now using Ribbon as the primary UI:

MS Paint: In terms of functionality, imagine a software somewhere between the currently-existing MS Paint and the wonderful Paint.NET freeware application. Make everything accessible through a ribbon bar (tabs ‘n all) ala Office 2007 and voila. […] WordPad: Basically, imagine Microsoft taking Office 2007 Word, slimming it down, tweaking the ribbon bar UI a bit, and calling it WordPad. While not as functional as Office 2007 Word (hence, the “slimming it down” mention), this version of WordPad is coming along nicely.

And his next blog entry features a screenshot of Windows 7 Paint in action:

Windows 7 M3 Build 6780 MS Paint UI:

(Click the picture for the full-resolution image)