'Windows Ribbon is like an overstuffed refrigerator, a maze only navigable by your home's primary cook'

Daniel Havens shared that sentiment in a Google+ comment yesterday. His viewpoint reflects that of many others. The votes are in -- 1,204 as I post -- and the majority of respondents to our poll either hate or dislike the Ribbon.

Yesterday, I expressed my strong negative reaction to something long rumored but definitely confirmed by Steven Sinofsky, Windows & Windows Live president, in a wave of usage statistics: Microsoft is bringing the Office Ribbon to Windows, as primary means of navigating the file system. Microsoft has its stats. We have ours. I posted a poll last night asking you about the Ribbon.

Before sharing the results let me discuss the sample and its significance. Firstly, more than 1,200 respondents is an excellent number. Secondly, the poll was broadly available and responses are likely from more than just BetaNews readers. Finally, BN readers tend to be exactly the target market Microsoft wants to reach with Windows 8. Many are IT professionals.

I asked: "Microsoft will make Windows 8's file system look more like Office 2010. Which best describes your feelings about the software's Ribbon motif?" To that question 41.53 percent of respondents answered "I hate it" and another 12.54 percent "I dislike it somewhat". So 54.07 percent of respondents either dislike or hate the ribbon. Just 26.16 percent "really like it" and other 10.05 percent "like it somewhat". So just 36.21 percent like or somewhat like the Ribbon. That's not exactly resounding endorsement.

BetaNews readers post lively reaction to pretty much everything we write, and there is an influx of new commenters since the redesign launched about 10 days ago. One of our old-timers, Dave Lindhout, a software developer, writes: "Microsoft needs a way to make the Windows UI accessible to my fat finger. They have chosen the Ribbon. I don't see it either, Joe. I look at the Ribbon being displayed on a HD formatted tablet, and I don't see much room for my content. The Metro UI works because it's simple. Windows is way too complicated to access through Metro".

Elitegangsta: "The Ribbon was a terrible idea from the start and should definitely not be included as a main focal point in Windows 8". "I have to say, I hate that ribbon -- I still use Office 2003 for that reason", Brian Butterworth writes. "The thing that really annoys me about the Microsoft W8 Engineeing post...is that the logic was all good as far as 'the top 10 commands represent 81.8% of total usage'. There is no logical step from saying that people use Paste (^V), Properties (alt+Enter), Copy (^c), Delete (Delete), Rename (F2), Refresh (F5), Cut (^X), CommandBar (F10) and New (no shortcut) to saying that the awful Ribbon should be used".

Ribbon's defenders opine, too. "Microsoft said while beta testing Office 2007 that the Ribbon UI interface would take a bit of retraining to get used to", Joseph DiDario comments. "Once people were comfortable with the Ribbon UI studies were done that concluded that the Ribbon UI was more effective at exposing features to end users and that once accustomed to it, improved the end user's efficiency. I believe that using the Ribbon UI in Windows Explorer is the next logical step and it will be as Microsoft has stated, the most riskiest version of Windows ever, because it changes how we all are accustomed to interacting with Windows".

Christopher Gregory Wortman: "I have been wanting the Ribbon interface in Windows 7 since inception. I, for one, love it! At first in Office 2007/2010 it took some getting used to, but once I got the hang of it, I couldn't live without it. Give me the features, leave the simplicity for the idiots".

One comment supposedly comes from the Windows 8 team: "Joe, no argument that simplicity is good. I see a lot of folks asking for more features--those features have to go somewhere".

Should that somewhere be the Ribbon? I've embedded the poll here -- another chance for you to vote. If there's dramatic turnabout in the numbers, I'll check the IP addresses to see where voters are coming from. Let's keep a clean poll, folks, and please share more reaction in comments below.

59 Responses to 'Windows Ribbon is like an overstuffed refrigerator, a maze only navigable by your home's primary cook'

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