Here's a quote from this week's selected Blog, which I just found tonight:
Jensen Harris: An Office User Interface Blog
One of the concepts behind the Ribbon is that it's the one and only place to look for functionality in the product. If you want to look through Word 2003 to find an unfamiliar command, you need to look through 3 levels of hierarchical menus, open up 31 toolbars and peruse about 20 Task Panes. It's hard to formulate a "hunting" strategy to find the thing you're looking for because there's no logical path through all of the UI.
Office "12" consolidates all of the entry points into one place: the Ribbon. So if you're trying to find a feature and don't know where it is, the scope of your search is drastically reduced. Click on the leftmost tab, and click across the tabs until you reach the end. That it. It's either there or it's not--there are no other "rocks" to look under, no other places we've hidden functionality. We've found in early tests that people find it easier to discover how to do new things in the Ribbon, and they're more apt to explore the UI looking for better ways to get things done.
There are a few reasons I'm so excited about this blog:
1. I've developed a strong interest in Usability, especially since the software team at my company made the mistake of letting me get involved in a Design document for one of the major interfaces in our software.
2. I create, edit, and use documents created with Microsoft Office constantly.
3. B/c for once, Microsoft seems to really be nailing something on the head, which is good for the whole world (at least in some ways).
So watch the video before you critique the new design. I have to say it's probably one of the biggest usability improvements I've seen in software since I've been using computers (which isn't all that long, really). It's certainly one that has the potential for the biggest improvement for my day-to-day activities. Oh, and if you have a suggestion for a better title for my weekly suggestion, throw it in the comments. I'll be sure to respond.