Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Word 2007 drop-down menus - GONE!

UPDATE: I am still in two minds about the new "ribbon" menu in Word 2007 - I have personally found it easier to use in some ways, but I am very proficient in the use of Word 2003 so it takes some getting used to. In the meantime, if you are sick of the "ribbon" and you want to use old-style Word 2003 menus, there is a little bit of software out there called Classic Menus for Word 2007 from AddInTools which is supposed to customize Word 2007 so the menu looks like the old 2003 one. I cannot vouch for this software, but you can download the trial version and see if it solves your ribbon-related woes. And let me know what you think.

This site is still mostly concerned with the most common, previous versions of Word, but just a note regarding Word 2007, recently out as part of the Office 2007 package. It concerns the implementation of drop-down menus. Well in short, they are GONE!

We will be testing Word 2007 here on Word Tips World soon and will update when we have got a better idea of how it works, but the new interface is quite radically new, and might well pose some problems for existing users until they get used to it. First impressions are that the new replacement for drop-down menus, the "Ribbon", as Microsoft have dubbed it, IS a more logical approach - a kind of context-sensitive tab system. A bit like in Macromedia Dreamweaver, if you have used that.

I will just give you a quote from the Microsoft site for now (link to full article below):

"The primary replacement for menus and toolbars in Office Word 2007 is the Ribbon, a component of the Office Fluent user interface. Designed for easy browsing, the Ribbon consists of tabs that are organized around specific scenarios or objects. The controls on each tab are further organized into several groups. The Office Fluent Ribbon can host richer content than menus and toolbars can, including buttons, galleries, and dialog box content."

We will get back with a full overview once we have trialled the new replacement MS Word interface and see what the implications are for the world of Word Tips!

Microsoft Reference article: Locations of Word 2003 commands in Word 2007


SteveFesten said...

I have been using the ribbon for 2 weeks now, and I'm starting to hate the whole ribbon system thoroughly.

I want my toolbars and dropdown menu's back!

markowe said...

I STILL haven't installed my trial version of Word 2007, but I have used Powerpoint 2007 and have mixed feelings about the ribbon system.

I believe there might be some hacks out there which can give you something resembling the old menus. If I track it down I might post it here, if it's kosher.

yikes said...


I am finding the whole thing very frustrating to use. I want the good old fashioned drop down menus and simple toolbars back!

For example, I used to be able to zoom in easily by clicking on the zoom drop down button, and increasing the zoom as I needed. Now I have to click on "zoom" and it opens up a separate box in which I have to choose my percentage. So i can't easily increase the zoom by small increments continuously as I used to do.

markowe said...

I am still stalling on the issue of installing Word 2007, most notably because I use some professional software which DOES NOT work with Word 2007, so I can't see how your issue of zooming is resolved in W2007. But it does seem strange to make you wade through those ribbony things to find the command you are looking for instead of just selecting from the toolbar.

By the way, isn't there a combination of CTRL+mouse scroll or something which zooms for you? Perhaps there is some even simpler way to carry out these commands, and Microsoft are saying, "Hey, you don't need to use the toolbar anymore". Ever the optimist...

Herman56 said...

I have been trying for months now to get used to this horrible invention. I have been using MS Office for years, but at this moment in time I am just wishing I had never left WordPerfect...

And I especially dislike the comments from MS and their employees. We have created a monster and now this monster is going to tell us how we should think too. When I had known before this ribbon could not be changed back to the old menu style, I would never have bought this Office.

This is no change, this is rape! I have bought Vista as well, but that will be probably the last MS Operating system I will ever buy and install. The continuous crashing Explorer (no MS problem...) makes working with this system extremely irritating.

And when you want to be able to put data on other partitions, or add specific parts of the operating system to other directories, you will loose the possibility to update your product... With these recent additions to their product line, MS is trying to declare themselves God/Allah/Buddha. Do not think, we will do this for you...

Why not listen to the people seriously using their products? I only want to be able to use the products I paid for, not a Kindergarten product. And spare me the pro-MS comments please.

Is there no-one around with enough knowledge of programming to program an open source addition to Office and Windows, making them (highly) adaptable? Preferably without all the stupid reasons MS is using in order not to have to feel ashamed about the lousy jobs they did?

Is it not stupid you would have to pay again for an "add-on" which can reverse this clownesk of what once a normal menu was? I am glad I am not working at a helpdesk at this moment: it was bad already in the past, when you had to tell people that their menus still existed, but were "only" hidden, because they had not used them enough. No-one called Microsoft - it was the local helpdesk or system administrator who were called...

IO too want my old menu back. And I want to have the possibility to tune my programs in every way I want. And since I do not have much of a choice in using these programs/operating systems, I want MS to return this choice to me. Otherwise I might have to make this choice for them...

markowe said...

Wow, there's some pretty strong feeling around about this. I think you are probably right to connect the whole "ribbon" episode with Microsoft's general business approach, which is getting scarier by the minute (or at least by the Windows edition).

I recently bought a new laptop (see another rant of mine: Why I Didn't Buy a Dell) and I had little choice, by the time I had narrowed down what my hardware needs were, than to accept the fact I was going to get Vista preinstalled.

In many respects I actually think there are improvements, it has found a better balance between user-friendliness and not treating you like an idiot - but it is still FAR from perfect even in that respect, and WHY does it run at the same speed on my latest-generation Core 2 Duo machine as XP did on my 2-or-3-generations-old AMD Barton machine?!

But this isn't about Vista - I worry too about the massive market force that Microsoft is able to exert. The attitude of having the monopoly and therefore being able to "tell you what our customers want". Part of their problem is trying to meet everybody's needs, from computer-illiterate home user (God help them!), to the tech-savvy IT guy, and it just can't be done with one homogenous product like Windows. On the other hand, there is no question of breaking up the Windows brand and risking that massive monopoly. So they have to undertake massive generalised research into "what their customers need" and they end up with results like in the Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy where the Galactic Census reveals that the average citizen of the Galaxy "has 2.4 legs and owns a hyena".

And in my straw polling of friends, indeed there are many who are happy with the "ribbon" and say it makes things much simpler and more logical. But that's if you weren't already proficient in Word 2003...

My personal quandary is more complicated than just "Vista or XP, Ribbon or old-style Word menus"? Yes, I toyed with actually dual-booting or even uninstalling Vista in favour of an unlicensed copy of XP (which will not be supported much longer but will work a damn' sight faster than Vista, and to hell with the updates and support). What I certainly did was install Office 2003, which I have no intention of abandoning in favour of 2007 and the Ribbon. The problem is not just the Ribbon - I have certain productivity software that I use which interfaces with Word via Visual Basic and is vital to my work. And lo and behold, that software needs a hugely expensive upgrade if it is to work with Office 2007.

So that settles that. And that is the only thing really stopping me from going over to Linux wholesale and at least settling this whole problem once and for all...

vlais said...

Look guys,
in just 3 minutes you can customize Quick access toolbar.
First, right click on upper left big quick access icon and select "Show quick access toolbar below the ribbon". In same drop down menu click on "minimize the ribbon". Stupid ribbon is gone! Then in same menu click on "Customize the quick access toolbar ...".
Select "all commands" from "Choose comands from" drop down menu.
Freely add all the commands you use for years before ribbon and put then in right list. Move the new added commands in place you are familiar with... NEW, OPEN, SAVE, SAVE AS, PRINT PEVIEW PRINT, CUT, COPY, PASTE, CALCULATOR, ETC
This helps me, and I'm not angry anymore.

markowe said...

Thanks for that! Sounds pretty simple!

Though I am hearing a lot of people saying the ribbon is growing on them now.

Will leave it to taste, I think. I plan to use 2003 for the foreseeable future, just because it weren't broke (well, it was in many ways, but I doubt they fixed any of the bugs I have trouble with).

Allan said...

Ribbons suck! I spend more time now trying to find the location of item in the Ribbon than actually creating documents and/or presentations. I absolutely hate the new Ribbon interface and demand that Microsoft offer a "Clasic Tool Bar View"! After all - what was wrong with the old style...

David Ziffer said...

Perhaps you will all enjoy my diatribe regarding ribbons and related topics at:

Josh said...

For sure--- I've been using it for a few years now-- and i still have to google to do things-- i spend mroe time looking up what icon i need to find or which ribon i should be on than being productive-its SOOOOO frustrating!

Anonymous said...

Just as a fti the forms are not gone
If you are in word
Click on the Microsoft Logo in the top left corner that displays the new, open and etc commands
At the very bottom right hand corner of that menu you will see two options
1. Word Options
2. Exit Word
Click Word options
The third option is to show developer tab in ribbon (make sure that tab is checked)

Hit ok and once you go back to your menu if you click on the developer tab you will see all the wonderful option we are use to see I regards to forms in 2003

Anonymous said...

From Rich V.:

Will Microsoft ever learn to test new software thoroughly with actual end users and get their feedback before releasing it? I am 66 and have been using MS Office products for many years. The Office 2007 Ribbon is the most frustratiing thing that I have ever had to deal with while using a software application.

Having started out in the DOS environment many years ago, I could never memorize all the DOS prompt entries that I needed to type at the command prompt. I was so happy when the first Windows environment came out with drop-down menus. I could finally find the commands that I needed to use from a menu rather than from cheat sheet.

Now MS has taken a step backward by taking away the drop-down menus. Now I have to memorize things again--what the icons stand for and where they are located. It is where they are located that gives me the most trouble. I waste many hours each week in frustrating searches through 100s of icons trying to find a particular command.

It must be nice to be so big and powerful that MS can just force pieces of junk down the public's throats. I wish I could just uninstall Word 2007 and go back to 2003. Unfortunately, the project that I am a member of requires the use of Word 2007. Now once again, I am waiting for MS to create a way back to a drop-down menu, where I can once again easily and quickly find the commands that I need to do my work quickly and efficiently.

Maybe if I used Word 2007 10 hours a day every day, I could memorize where all the seldom used commands are hidden. However, since it is one of many applications that I use, I don't use it often enough. I don't advocate death to the Ribbon menu, because I am sure there is someone out there somewhere that likes it. MS just needs to give the thousands (or more) users who can't stand it a way to choose drop-down menus as an alternative. Since they already have it made for Office 2003, surely it can't be that difficult to apply it to Office 2007 and beyond. So come on MS, give your users a break and bring back the drop-down menus!

markowe said...

Thanks for your thoughts Rich. Yes, it's that urge they have to fix what ain't broke. I'm not afraid to try something new, but I can't understand why deal such a blow to users' productivity.

I will probably give Office 2010 a chance though because I am sick of certain bugs in 2003 (such as very sketchy Comments facility) which I HOPE are fixed in 2007+!

But I fear the "logical and intuitive" interface of the Ribbon is going to drive me crazy...

evelynm said...

Actually I also suffer from the ribbon interface, which divides the functions into different groups and is hard to find out the familiar tools.

I have found an Office add-in Classic Menu for Office 2007 and 2010. What a wonderful app is. It brings back the old 2003 drop down menu into the new ribbon. Both new functions and old menus can be at your hand.


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