The Size Of Things


One of the most discussed aspects of the new Office 2007 UI has been: “Does it take up too much room?”

It isn’t a straightforward question to answer, above all because to answer it requires a subjective opinion. What seems just right to one person might seem to another person to be too much.

So today, I’m going to try to take an objective look at the size of the new UI just by presenting the facts–and then you can form your own opinion. I’ll also discuss some of the background about why we made the design decisions we did.

One of the tricky things about measuring the size of the Office user interface is figuring out what to measure. The size of the Office 97-2003 user interface, in particular, is greatly affected by the number of toolbars and Task Panes brought up to use the features in the product.

To sidestep that problem for the time being, I’m going to compare the out-of-box experiences of Office 97 and Office 2007. Why these two versions? First of all, Office 97 was the first version of Office with command bars, and it’s the version often cited as representing a cleaner, smaller brand of UI. It’s also before the introduction of Task Panes, so we don’t have to take that into account. Also, it was (and is) an extremely successful version of Office which many people have installed, so it seems like a good comparison.

Why measure the out-of-the-box experience? Given that fewer than 2% of Office 2003 users customize their UI according to the data reported through the Customer Experience Improvement Program, the out-of-the-box experience is the one most users will see.

Furthermore, the out-of-box-experience is the mainstream experience which paints the old UI in the most positive light, primarily because it includes only the default toolbars–not all of the other ones which regularly appear as part of using the product.

Nonetheless, this comparison at least gives us some basic numbers to work with. All screenshots were taken in Windows XP at 1024×768 screen resolution with the Office window maximized.


Word 97 vs. Word 2007: Out of the box

Here are comparison pictures of Word 97 and Word 2007. The same document is loaded in both, and you can see that the text in each line as well as the line spacing match up exactly.


Word 97 – Click to enlarge


Word 2007 – Click to enlarge

Word 2007 document area: 1007 x 573 pixels
Word 97 document area: 979 x 573 pixels

Horizontally, you gain 28 pixels of space in Word 2007 out-of-the-box. On a web layout or landscape-oriented document, this advantage would be most useful.

Results: Arial 10 pt., Page Layout View

Word 97: 26 lines of text
Word 2007: 26 lines of text

So there it is. You can fit the same number of lines on the screen, out-of-box, in Word 97 and Word 2007.

We achieved this relative parity in terms of the size of the document workspace by cleaning up some other parts of the UI. We changed the horizontal scroll bar to only appear when necessary, and moved the view switcher buttons into the status bar. We also designed the rulers (which data indicate most people never use) to AutoHide, and added a quick toggle button to turn it on or off at the top of the vertical scroll bar.

Another way to visualize the comparison is by laying the document areas side by side. Because the Ribbon consolidates the UI into one space, it pushes the document down in the window a bit–giving the illusion of there being less space than there really is.

Here are the document areas of the 1024×768 maximized windows laid side by side. Notice that the lines of text line up exactly vertically, although the words don’t line up due to the more precise positioning of letters in Word 2007’s ClearType.


Comparison of document space – Click to enlarge


Excel 97 vs. Excel 2007: Out of the box

The Excel numbers paint a similar story to the one we just saw in Word.


Excel 97 – Click to enlarge


Excel 2007 – Click to enlarge

Excel 97 document area: 1004 x 581 pixels
Excel 2007 document area: 1008 x 534 pixels

Horizontally, there’s more space in the new version by default, vertically there’s a little less. As with all of these comparisons, this assumes that the Office 97 user isn’t showing any toolbars except for Standard and Formatting.

In terms of rows and columns, the amount of data on the screen ends up being similar.

Results: Arial 10pt., Normal View

Excel 97: 31 rows, 15 columns
Excel 2007: 30 rows, 15 columns

The default cells in Excel 2007 are a single pixel less tall–not really perceptible when looking with the naked eye, but it’s enough to bring the amount of data on the screen to within one row.

What this shows me is that, more than the UI or anything else, if you’re interested in getting more data on the screen in Excel, optimizing the font choice and cell size is by far your most important lever. Even minuscule changes have a large effect over many rows or columns.


PowerPoint 97 vs. PowerPoint 2007: Out of the box

PowerPoint’s usable canvas can be measured best based on the size of the slide that fits in the window. Because of its unique slide scaling behavior, PowerPoint is the most directly impacted equally by both horizontal and vertical dimensions.


PowerPoint 97 – Click to enlarge


PowerPoint 2007 – Click to enlarge

PowerPoint 97 document area: 1008 x 575 pixels
PowerPoint 2007 document area: 1024 x 573 pixels

A similar story to Word and Excel: more horizontal space, a tad less vertical room. The impact on the size of the slide itself is minimal. In fact, the default AutoFit zoom level within the available space is exactly the same between the versions.

Results: Normal View

PowerPoint 97: 76% zoom
PowerPoint 2007: 76% zoom

PowerPoint was the only program to ship with three toolbars turned on in Office 97, so it is not surprising that the size comparison is a dead heat.

As with Word, because the slide is positioned further down in the window in PowerPoint 2007, it gives the illusion of a smaller workspace than actually exists.


The Design Process

That ends the simple, factual, out-of-the-box comparisons. The numbers are on the table.

For the vast majority of people who use the product without spending tons of time tweaking every setting, the new UI will give them about the same amount of workspace as they would have had in Office 97 on the same computer.

Of course, today, we’re designing for much larger screens than would have been common back in 1996. The most common screen resolutions for Office 97 were 640×480 and 800×600. The most common screen resolutions for Office 2007 will be 1024×768 and 1280×1024 (with a fairly sizable percentage running even higher resolutions).

As a percentage of average available screen size, the Office 2007 UI takes far less space than the Office 97 UI would have on a 640×480 monitor. As you’ve seen, even when you equalize the screen size, the work areas are similar. The result is that far more of your bigger screen is used to show your document, as it should be.

But also keep in mind–we think about the Ribbon as a kind of flat tax. Unlike the toolbars model, where new UI was constantly coming up and taking extra space on the screen, the Ribbon never gets any larger.

What if you need the Reviewing and Drawing tools in Word 97? Suddenly, you can only see 23 lines of text instead of 26 lines of text. What if you ever inserted a Picture? Now you’ve got the Picture toolbar covering up your document–or dock it and lose another 2 lines of text. Or maybe you need the Table toolbar? There goes another 2 lines of text.

This build-up of “extra” stuff is one of the most common complaints about the menus and toolbars-based UI. Once a toolbar comes open, people don’t want to close it because they fear losing it. Experts, of course, know how to manage all of the UI widgets on the screen, but more often than not when we do site visits to watch people use Office in their place of business, their screen looks like this:


Stuff everywhere taking up room in Office 2003 – Click to enlarge

I wrote about how the Ribbon doesn’t degrade over time in March, but this same aspect of the UI has a profound impact on size. As more and more clutter is added to the mix, the Ribbon’s advantage in screen real-estate usage becomes pronounced.

With the addition of even one additional toolbar in any of the programs, the Ribbon already comes out ahead (even measuring at the exact same resolution!)


But What About… Task Panes?

As you may remember, Office XP and Office 2003 boot up with the Task Pane turned on. Because most of the command Task Pane usage scenarios have been absorbed into the new UI, we no longer boot with it on in the new UI programs of Office 2007.


Getting Started Task Pane in Office 2003 – Click to enlarge

If we pedantically wanted to look at true “out-of-the-box” for Office 2003 vs. Office 2007, we’d have to consider the space taken up by the Task Pane.

In default Office 2003, for instance, the Task Pane is 200 pixels wide, greatly decreasing the amount of space you get in each program. You only need to watch the candidates on The Apprentice use Office 2003 with the unused Getting Started Task Pane open all of the time to realize that most people don’t spend the time to get these pixels back. (We see this frequently in site visits as well.)

Any sort of UI space comparison between Office 2007 and Office 2002/2003 with the Task Pane on comes out with the new UI far in front. I went through some of those numbers last September.


But What About… Rafted Toolbars?

Starting in Office 2000, the ability to “raft” toolbars on to a single line was introduced. The out-of-box retail experience included this feature turned on in some cases.

Turning this option on saves you 25 vertical pixels because the Standard and Formatting toolbars share a single line. On the other hand, this design proved to be confusing because the presence and position of toolbar buttons is constantly changing, trying to optimize themselves based on your use.

The vast majority of business customers, therefore, turn this feature off as part of deploying the product. Many computer manufacturers also turn it off because of the support calls it generates. So, while this design might have made for a great screenshot, not many people use this product in this mode and therefore I’m not going to spend a lot more time discussing it as a common scenario.

Suffice it to say, “rafting” is one way a person could have taken back 25 vertical pixels in the old UI.

If you’re struggling with this feature in Office 2000/XP/2003, you can turn it off easily. Click Customize on the Tools menu, and then on the Options tab, check the box next to Show Standard and Formatting toolbars on two rows.


But What About… Customization?

Once you get beyond out-of-box experience, you’re in the realm of the few who spend time customizing their Office workspace to optimize the use of space.

As I’ve mentioned before, the data indicates that fewer than 1 in 50 people have customized their Office UI, which is one of the reasons I’ve spent up until now discussing the mainstream out-of-box experience.

But it is true that both Office 97-2003 and Office 2007 provide affordances for those who wish to spend time customizing in order to get more space for their document.

Getting Space Back in Office 97-2003

  • If you have a big enough monitor, you might be able to move certain toolbars onto a single line, depending on their size.
  • You could turn off all of the built-in toolbars and create a custom toolbar with the set of buttons you want.
  • You could turn off the toolbars and use menu accelerators and keyboard shortcuts to perform all tasks. Because not all features are in the menu system, you would have to move buttons from toolbars or the command well into the menu system in order to use them via the keyboard.

Getting Space Back in Office 2007

  • You can collapse the Ribbon, either by double-clicking the selected tab or by pressing CTRL+F1 on the keyboard. The entire bottom part disappears, leaving only a single row of tabs across the top.


Collapsing the Ribbon in Office 2007 – Click to enlarge

  • You can use the keyboard system to use all features in the Ribbon while it’s collapsed. Because all features have efficient keyboard access, you don’t need to mess around in the command well, adding features to menus to get keyboard access to work. (Note: in Beta 2, the Ribbon expands when using KeyTips… we’re hoping to have this solved for RTM.)
  • You can add controls from the Ribbon to your customizable Quick Access Toolbar. You can even add groups of features as a single icon to save space. Of course, you could collapse the Ribbon and use only your custom Quick Access Toolbar, giving you tons of space back. Note that because the Quick Access Toolbar receives automatic KeyTips, you also have hyper-efficient keyboard access to these features or groups of controls.
  • You could use RibbonX, the XML-based extensibility model for the new UI, to replace the entire Ribbon (or a tab of the Ribbon) with a custom user interface designed by you.
  • One last note about Office 2007: Because additional UI elements never come up without you requesting them (toolbars, Task Panes, etc.), you can rely on the space considerations remaining static over time.

Summary

Whew, this has been a long post–but it’s an important topic so I wanted to make sure to give it the space it deserved.

In short, the majority of people who use Office 2007 will have about as much space for their document content as they would have running Office 97 on the same computer. Someone who used several toolbars or the Task Pane will likely get more space for their document content in Office 2007.

Given today’s average screen resolution, the Office 2007 UI will take up a historically small percentage of the average window size.

And, if you are one of the few willing to customize to make more space, there are many options available, both in the old UI and the new UI.

Is the Ribbon larger than a toolbar? Of course. Is it bigger than all of the UI it replaces? In most cases, no.

We really have attempted to preserve as much space as possible for the document canvas while ensuring that the Ribbon has enough room to host all of the UI of the product in one location–a key usability goal.

In common, long-term usage of the product, I believe that most people will end up with more usable document space in Office 2007 applications than in any previous version of Office.

Comments (46)

  1. Adrian says:

    Overall, the Ribbon does seem to help restore the balance between UI and document.  If you use Outlook, PowerPoint, and Excel, most of your documents are landscape, like the shape of most screens, so it makes a lot of sense.

    But if Word is all you use, most of your documents are portrait, and monitors are getting wider faster than they’re getting taller.  Given that, I would have loved it if the ribbon were a vertical strip, which would use up a lot of dead space and restore vertical space which always seems to be at a premium.  And if you run maximized, it could take advantage of Fitz’s Law (sp?).

    Monitors have gotten so big now, that I wonder if it’s really fair to design for the monitor’s size on the assumption that people will run maximized.  If the Office apps didn’t open maximized by default, how many people would maximize them?

  2. Bertrand says:

    Great post Jensen! Very interesting as usual! I’m curious what your opinion is about 16×9 screens is, because I believe more and more people use 16×9 screens, a trend which could increase with the sidebar which comes with Vista and which will be better viewed I guess on a 16×9 screen. So, if the ribbon takes a little more vertical space, isn’t it going to impact more people who have a 16×9 screen?

    Thanks!

  3. Jonas says:

    I’m liking the UI changes so far, and looking forward to trying them out.

    I do have one concern, voiced here before but not yet answered. Is it at all possible to have the ribbon use a vertical orientation?

    Imo this is a pretty relevant consideration – a regular screen is wider than tall, the normal orientation of a document is "portrait" and widescreen monitors are spreading. Having the option of a vertical ribbon on the side of your screen makes a lot of sense, but having seen nothing but horizontal ribbons I assume it is for some reason not possible.

  4. As someone who uses the horizontal ruler constantly (never use the vertical ruler at all, but then I rarely see it since I work mostly in Normal view), I will no doubt want to keep it switched on in Word 2007. Let’s hope this version can do a better job of that than Word 2003, where it is constantly disappearing despite my best efforts.

  5. Michael J says:

    Yes, yes, yes, make ribbon and other stuff stretched along vertically, not horisontally.

    On a non-relevant note, I hope that search/replace/paste will be much better. In current versions (since Word 6 or even earlier) the search function is horrible. Can you make it as simple as in Firefox? Paste: why should I do so many movements just to paste say from a browser as plain text? I would like to be able to define clipboard patterns, like "always paste as plain text if copied from browser."

    Also, sometime after Word6 or Word95 you changed how style of font/paragraph is changed when you hit backspace or delete, and since then working with Word is constant pain.

  6. foo-bar says:

    I agree with the comments above regarding the possibility of a vertical ribbon. Too many screens these days are HDTV inspired (1280×720 or similar proportions), giving less vertical space than yesterday’s 1024×768 monitors.

  7. Mollly C says:

    foo-bar, I think most "wide" 1280 computer monitors (desktop and notebook screens) are actually larger than 19×9, with usual resolutions of 1280×768, 1280×800, and 1280×850, which gives more space than yesterday’s 1024×768.

    For example:

    http://www.compusa.com/products/product_info.asp?product_code=337399&pfp=BROWSE

  8. Lothar Bloath says:

    Vertical space in Word is critical, as noted above. I can only assume that the issue didn’t come up in usability testing. Were usability users asked what they wanted in a free-form way, or did you just bounce them against the options you guys thought of on your own? I think the posts about usability testing I’ve read here have suggested the latter, but maybe its there and I just forgot it.

    And like that guy said above — why doesn’t F3 work in Word 2003? It works in Notepad.

    Of course, F3 doesn’t work in IE, either (in IE, F3 gives you a dementedly inappropriate practical-joke prompt to “buy a book online”. No, I’m not making this up, that’s really what it does).

    Here’s a thought: What Microsoft ought to do is define a common set of commands that occur in all or most applications. “Copy”, for example, is very common. “Search” is common. “Search Again” is common. So what you’d do is then define standard behavior for these commands, and standard ways to invoke them. Maybe for copy, you could have Ctrl+C or something like that, or maybe Ctrl+F for “Search”, Ctrl+H for search-and-destroy^Wreplace, and maybe something like F3 for “Search Again”. Just spitballing off the top of my head here, sort of brainstorming, you know. You could call it, oh, “user interface guidelines” or words to that effect.

    I know this all sounds like a crazy, impractical dream, but just bear with me, okay?

    You could even define standard UI widgets, like buttons and edit boxes, which behave in standard ways, and you could put them in libraries that you can share among different applications. Say, you’ve got a single-line edit box: You could have one single-line edit for everybody, with the same keyboard commands and the same pop-up menu when you right-click inside the box. Even some dialogs are common between different applications: “Open File”, for example. You could even use the shared controls for those: Wouldn’t it be neat if a user could *know* that when he right-clicks in a single-line edit or an editable combo box, that he’ll get a context menu? Imagine if a user could *rely* on an assumption like that, if he could safely assume that in all MS products, the same UI widget will behave consistently, because it would actually be the same widget being re-used! There’s a sort of futuristic concept here called “code re-use”, but I don’t want to get too technical, so I’ll confine myself to the user experience. You could apply the same consistent-UI concepts to the minimize/maximize/restore/exit buttons on the titlebar.

    Wouldn’t that be a blast? Wouldn’t it be cool if UI behavior were made consistent and predictable with advanced, revolutionary ideas like “user interface guidelines”, and “common controls”, and “common dialogs”?

    What? What’s that you say? You’ve had these things for fifteen years or more already? Well then why does Office not [curse word was here] USE THEM?

  9. Gabe says:

    Adrian: Fitz’s law says that the fastest parts of the screen to reach are the edges and the corners. This was true 20 years ago when your mouse never had to move more than 500 pixels to hit the edge of the screen.

    However, accessing the edge of today’s large screens often requires picking up the mouse and recentering it on the mouse pad. In fact, just "throwing" the mouse into the corner to reach a button on a maximized app may be a difficult operation if you’re one of the many users with multiple monitors, because odds are the mouse cursor will leave the screen you’re looking at and you’ll have to find it on the other monitor to figure out where it went.

  10. Aaron M. Hall says:

    Lothar,

    I hope that Jensen removes your post for your inability to communicate in a rational manner and avoid using profanity.

    F3 in IE brings up the "Search Pane" which I suppose would be a book sale thing on a spyware ridden machine or one in which you’ve customized your search engine. F3, indeed, does not bring up search… but then again, CTRL-F(ind, perhaps?) does and always has worked perfectly well… and HOLY COW— there’s a FIND NEXT button! Wow! I will grant you the one comment about it being nice to have CTRL-F or F3 perform a "Find Next"… that actually is a good idea.

    But if F3 is the only complaint you have that causes you to go so far off topic from Jensen’s blog entry, then I suppose it’s fair to say that the entire Office team is doing a FANTASTIC JOB!

  11. Wayne B says:

    They put us through Office 2003…and those horrible task panes (worse than clippy!).

    Office makes me want to stab my eyeballs out, so a little cursing is probably OK.

  12. Christianj says:

    A while ago you said that the default tolbars in pre-2007 were often added too, and that it wasnt uncommon to see people with 4-5 extra toolbars open.

    Certainly my own observations would agree with this, I personally close off un-needed toolbars as I know how and where to find them, so I can chop and change as required.  Case in point is that I see a helpdesk call last week where someone lost the toolbar with send/recieve in Outlook 2003… The notes say that the user blamed the software as it ‘disappeared’ on him… He does need some training on Office though, I just hope that client gives it too him (He frustrates himself regularly with it).

    But, back on track, I certainly do remember you saying that even though there is only a small difference in screen realestate in the OOBE on both of them, that quite often you get MUCH less with 2003 and below due to extra toolbars, Ive seen some people with 4 small toolbars docked below eachother in word… 2 seconds of moving them and they suddenly have allot more room, and they really had no idea you could do that…

  13. John Rudy says:

    Jensen,

    A stupid, quick question: What about those of us who loathe running maximized? I just bought one of the above-mentioned widescreen monitors (mine is actually 16:10 — 1440×960), and the primary reason is so that I don’t have to maximize anything. (Well, MAYBE Visual Studio. But certainly not "standard" document-centric apps like the Office suite.)

    Is there any reliable usability/statistical data on just how many of us weirdos there are out there? I imagine that, by and large, people maximize — I’m sure I’m in the minority. But are we a significant enough population to warrant any "extra" steps on the part of the Office team?

    (PS: I like the new UI, and think the Ribbon’s great! I’m also glad it’s a "flat tax," because that already answers most of my question — no more horizontal UI need be taken … )

  14. Mark Sowul says:

    Lothar might have some issues with diplomacy but he’s absolutely right about consistency (both in keyboard shortcuts, and UI).  It’s very frustrating when apps don’t use standard keyboard shortcuts.  My favorite was ctrl-tab having to become ctrl-f6 or something in Word.

  15. gary keramidas says:

    just my opinion, but i’d like to see the date stamp at the top so i don’t have to scroll down to see when it was posted.

    just my opinion

  16. Aaron M. Hall says:

    @John Rudy– I use Word docs un-maximized from time to time for document manipulation (drag-and-drop), but very rarely. I run at 1280*1024. I have been playing with a copy of the beta for the last few days… I’ve gotta say, even on a 1024*768 resolution, and let’s face it… for most of us it’s that 768 number that matters to most of us… it’s not so bad. I am still able to pull up a doc and view it with ease and no more scrolling than I would otherwise experience. I certainly don’t think 1-2 lines of text is going to kill me, and I spend a LOT of time in documents.

    @Mike Sowul– I’ve been using Windows a long time… since 3.0, not sure about you, so can’t say about that… but I’ve been using CTRL-F since the beginning, and F3 came quite a bit later. I’m not saying that it couldn’t be "corrected" in some way… but this isn’t the blog post for that. Last I saw, we were talking about screen real-estate. There were a couple of recent keyboard shortcut entries that perhaps the two of you should follow up on first. 🙂

  17. Jon Peltier says:

    But What About… Customization?

    Customization is not all about size. If I need to see more of my document I can adjust fonts, row/line heights, and window zooms.

    I know your usage studies indicate that only 2% of users modify their toolbars. As a demonstration of the relevance of this statistic, I refer to your example of those business experts on "the Apprentice", who are by no means those "Experts, of course, [who]know how to manage all of the UI widgets on the screen".

    I suppose the usage numbers are biased away from those experts, and because of this, the ability of these experts to customize their interface has been severely compromized in Office 2007. Several comments bring up vertically oriented UI elements, but only task panes remotely resemble this; the ribbon cannot be dragged to the sides of the window (although the Windows taskbar can be, allowing another 1-2 lines/rows to be visible, and in fact it can be set not to always sit in the way). In fact, my customized Word 2003 interface has toolbars aligned along the sides of the screen, covering up only unused margins or the background beyond the document. Not possible in the new interface.

    The fact that the Ribbon doesn’t degrade with time also means the aforementioned experts cannot improve it with time.

  18. Robert Moir says:

    "A stupid, quick question: What about those of us who loathe running maximized? I just bought one of the above-mentioned widescreen monitors (mine is actually 16:10 — 1440×960), and the primary reason is so that I don’t have to maximize anything. (Well, MAYBE Visual Studio. But certainly not "standard" document-centric apps like the Office suite.) "

    – I never run maximised unless I’m doing a demo of one particular thing.

    I guess that the 2007 interface still works the same way for me when compared to 2003 as it would maximised. Where Jensen talks about a 1024×768 screen here he could be talking about a window of that size on my 1280×1024 screen just as easily.

  19. sraring29 says:

    I’m curious as to how one determines whether or not a ruler is being used.  I mean, I don’t click on the vertical ruler, but I look at it to see how far down the page I am (particularly useful if I can’t see the bottom of the page yet).  Without actual clicks, can you determine that it’s being used or not?  And, how do people set non-half-inch tab stops without the horizontal ruler?  I know there’s a "Format tabs" dialog, but that’s a lot harder than just clicking on the ruler.

  20. Nabeel says:

    What about someone whos using this much screenspace (as I am):

    http://img135.imageshack.us/my.php?image=ss5tc.jpg

    Can you resize the ribbon to take up that room?

    In visual studio, I’ve done the same thing, only one toolbar and that’s it. I have having less room to work with than i can.

  21. Robert Moir says:

    Nabeel,

    you’re using 3 rows of toolbars (2 at top, 1 at bottom) plus the menu.

    I think to use that much space in Office 2007, looking at my copy here, you’d have to find a way to make the ribbon *larger*

  22. Mat Hall says:

    I run at a ludicrous resolution (1920×1440) and as a result I can arrange my toolbars horizontally rather than stacking them up.  Here’s a downsampled version (and yes, I really *do* work with it like that — call me odd, but I like it) —

    http://www.dashslot.co.uk/uploads/img444606e3b565b.jpg

    I imagine that as the ribbon seems to be designed for more "normal" resolutions I’m going to end up with quite a lot of wasted space at the top right?  Given the large area of my monitor it’s not really a pressing issue, but I’d prefer an option to have the ribbon tabs arrange their items horizontally, not have giant icons (I *know* what columns are — I don’t need a humungous picture of them to work it out, thanks), etc., but as I guess that not being the lowest common denominator I’m going to be plum out of luck?  (And I also hope that the ribbon doesn’t scale to fit the width of the window and grow vertically as a consequence.)

    At the moment I can work in 2-page view and have everything perfectly readable (the actual width of a page on screen is slightly wider than "Fit to width" on a 1280×1024 monitor), so anything that might reduce the usable height of the Word window would be a disappointment.  I know this is progress and all, and many of the 2007 features are something I look forward to, but I’ve spent 10+ years with the UI like it is (and the past six years with it *EXACTLY* as it is in that screenshot) and 99.9% of the things I do are so deeply ingrained that I can almost click on a toolbar button without looking at the screen — it’s bound to be too late, but I’d *dearly* love a "classic mode" interface.  (Presumably Word can still be embedded as a COM object, and I imagine that the ribbon, etc., can be hidden, so if worst comes to worst I may have to knock up a container for it so I can have my toolbars back. 🙂

  23. Nabeel says:

    Robert,

    That’s interesting, because I’ve played with the beta and it seems like there far *less* real estate available.

    My drawing toolbar on the bottom is usually off.

    The ribbon at my resolution (1400×1050) takes up alot more room than those 2 toolbars at the top do (I’m on a laptop)

    The page would begin almost in the middle of the screen.

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  25. Mike says:

    Jensen: Why has no one questioned the accuracy of the Customer Experience Improvement Program data? I’ve asked this repeatedly, and still have not heard an answer, about collecting data from only those people who do not customize Office.  I’m surprised even 2% of your data indicates users want to customize Office, since you’ve essentially eliminated all those users in your sample.  Turning off the ribbon is not customization.  The QAT is barely customization.  If the new UI is supposed to be results oriented, who’s results is it oriented towards?  Are my results the same as everyone else’s?  Hardly – my needs change (as I work at a help desk, and assist hundreds of users with varying Office needs) a half-dozen times during the day.  I question the size of both icons and text – and the complete lack of customization – as an insult to accessibility.  I know people who, while not blind, will likely be unable to readily view the ribbon, and there’s no option to use just text labels, increase the size of the icons, or increase the font size of the labels.  While I like the concept of the ribbon’s organization, why must I use exactly the same features, in exactly the same order, without the ability to move, remove or add any of the features that I use (or don’t use) most frequently?  Except for RibbonX (requiring expensive tools and specialized programming skills), no mention is made of why users are completely prohibitted from modifying the ribbon to best suit their needs, as opposed to the needs of ‘user zero.’  That the ability to customize your environment is seen as an inconvenience to some does not mean everyone else should be forced to use only one set of predetermined tools.  PLEASE find a way to include ready Ribbon customization prior to release.  Maximizing screen space is a laudible goal – but so is getting work done, and the Ribbon is sorely lacking because I have to work around it, rather than modify it so it can work for me.

    Mike

  26. A topic that has come up frequently in our private beta newsgroups as well as here in blog comments from…