IT pros still spooked by Office's ribbon interface
Tops list of pre-deployment concerns over Microsoft's Office 2010
Computerworld - Four years after its debut, the "ribbon" interface in Microsoft's Office suite still gives businesses the shudders, a research firm said today.
The interface first appeared in Office 2007 to catcalls as users struggled with the massive redesign, which substituted a wide ribbon-like display at the top for the traditional drop-down menus, small icons and toolbars that epitomized Windows applications' look-and-feel for decades.
Months after the release of Office 2010, which also relies on the ribbon, enterprise IT professionals still think the interface is a headache, said Diane Hagglund, a senior analyst at Dimensional Research.
After polling more than 950 business IT executives, managers and staffers, Hagglund found that the ribbon and its impact on worker training led all worries about deploying Office 2010. Nearly half of the IT pros -- 45% -- pegged user training on the ribbon as a concern, more than double that of worries about the new software's stability and reliability, and significantly higher than the next-most expressed anxieties, including non-ribbon training issues and add-in compatibility problems.
In the past, Microsoft has argued that training problems stemming from the ribbon interface have been overblown. Users, however, have continued to knock the ribbon, whether in Office on Windows or in the just-shipped Office for Mac 2011, which features a variant on the interface.
Dimensional also noted a slow uptake of Office 2010 so far, with just 20% of organizations polled having rolled out the suite to any PCs outside test scenarios.
But next year should be a barn burner for Microsoft. Forty-two percent of the polled IT professionals said their organizations would broadly deploy Office 2010 in 2011, more than twice the 18% who said the same about this year.
Two weeks ago, Microsoft touted a 15% year-over-year increase in Office sale revenues for the third quarter, the boost coming from 2010's June launch. The company also announced that sales of Office 2010 were 20% higher than for Office 2007 during its early months.
At the same time, Microsoft said consumer sales of Office -- the bulk of which would be the lowest-priced Home & Student edition, historically the biggest retail seller -- were "outstanding," but said nothing similar about how the suite's selling to businesses.
Hagglund had a hunch why enterprises are hesitant to jump on Office 2010. "What was really interesting was hearing [from IT professionals] about the increased complexity of the desktop," she said, ticking off factors ranging from multiple versions of Windows -- including the nearly-decade-old XP -- and multiple editions of Office to Windows 7 migration plans that are only now getting into swing.
"I really feel for the front line IT people today," she said. "It's just getting tougher and tougher."
The most surprising result of the survey, said Hagglund, was the large number of IT professionals who said that their organizations are running Office alternatives as well as Microsoft's suite.
Nearly one-in-five said that they are using OpenOffice.org, the open-source project that's recently been roiled by the defection of important contributors to the new rival, LibreOffice.
Ten percent of those polled by Dimensional also said they're using Google Docs.
"I was shocked," admitted Hagglund, referring to the 18% result for OpenOffice.org. "And it's across all sizes and verticals," she added, "not just education, as you might think. That was the biggest surprise to me, the strength of OpenOffice."
Dimensional's survey was conducted for Kace, a systems management and deployment vendor acquired by computer maker Dell earlier this year. Hagglund's report can be obtained at Kace's site (registration required).
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is email@example.com.
- Office 2010 sales power record Microsoft quarter
- IT pros still spooked by Office's ribbon interface
- More great Office 2010 features for business
- Amazon, others discount Office 2010 day before launch
- Top 10 Office 2010 features for business
- 'Rearm' trick extends Office 2010 free ride to 180 days
- How to save money on Office 2010
- Update: Office, SharePoint 2010 launch brings Microsoft to cloud
- Dissecting Microsoft Office 2010
- MSDN, TechNet get Office 2010 this week
Read more about Desktop Apps in Computerworld's Desktop Apps Topic Center.
- Gartner Magic Quadrant for Client Management Tools The client management tool market is maturing and evolving to adapt to consumerization, desktop virtualization, and an ongoing need to improve efficiency.
- Path Selection Infographic Path Selection Infographic
- Hyperconvergence Infographic A wide range of observers agree that data centers are now entering an era of "hyperconvergence" that will raise network traffic levels faster...
- Preparing Your Infrastructure for the Hyperconvergence Era From cloud computing and virtualization to mobility and unified communications, an array of innovative technologies is transforming today's data centers.
- Cloud Knowledge Vault Learn how your organization can benefit from the scalability, flexibility, and performance that the cloud offers through the short videos and other resources...
- LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users? All Desktop Apps White Papers | Webcasts