Microsoft to users -- the Windows 8 ribbon is here to stay

Ever since Microsoft revealed that the ribbon interface is coming to Windows 8, Microsoft has faced plenty of criticism and complaints. But Windows chief Steven Sinofsky says that employing the ribbon in Windows 8 makes a lot of sense, and it's here to stay.

Last week Microsoft showed off a ribbonized version of the Windows Explorer file manager for Windows 8. Alex Simons, director of program management for Microsoft, wrote in his blog that use of the ribbon will "allow us to create an optimized file manager where commands would have reliable, logical locations in a streamlined experience."

That was followed by a blog from Windows and Windows Live President Steven Sinofsky providing more details about the Windows 8 interface, including how the ribbon and the tile-like Metro interface will co-exist.

Sinofsky got plenty of feedback about the ribbon on his blog, most of it negative. And now Sinofsky has replied to that feedback in another blog post, and he makes clear that while he understand why some people might not be happy about the ribbon, it's here to stay. He writes:

"We have taken into account many of the criticisms we were certain would surface [about the ribbon]. We chose the ribbon mechanism, and to those that find that a flawed choice, there isn't much we can do other than disagree. We were certain, and this proved out, that the dislike of the ribbon is most intense in the audience of this blog. Said dislike, we assumed, would produce a high level of commentary, much the way some topics during Windows 7 blogging did. That assumption was correct."

First of all, kudos to Sinofsky for addressing criticisms directly, and not being mealy-mouthed about it. It's refreshing to see a technology executive be so direct and clear, and to engage directly with his critics. His response to the criticism is a ideal use of a corporate blog.

Sinofsky is absolutely on target when he says that criticism of the ribbon is more intense on the blog than elsewhere. As a veteran tech blogger, I can vouch that no matter what you write, negative comments will almost always outweigh positive ones, and that comments on a blog do not necessarily reflect the views of most people, or even most of the readers of the blog.

Beyond that, he's flat-out right about the ribbon. The ribbon in Office, for example, makes for a productive experience, putting many commands and features within easy reach while using very little real estate. Applying it to Windows Explorer and other Windows 8 apps makes sense and will make it a better operating system.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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