Giving up on ribbons

After struggling with the ribbon interface in Microsoft Office 2007 for a few weeks I finally gave up and re-configured all my document types to open by default in LibreOffice.

I was an early adopter of Microsoft Word. In fact I first ran it in its original incarnation as a DOS program in 1986. I later became familiar with Word 2.0 on Windows 3.0 when it became available in 1991. By the time I went into computer sales and service full time in 1995 Microsoft Office was on the verge of dominating the industry and both my wife and I were doing advanced training in Word and Excel (she taught Office at the CompUSA store where I was an operations manager).

For those just beginning to work with Office now, or who might have 5 years or less experience with it, the ribbon menu interface may very well be a better experience. But for someone like me whose fingers long ago memorized the exact keystrokes needed to step through mail merge operations or create complex macros, it was a disaster. Suddenly I was having to re-learn pretty much everything I needed to do in those programs.

That made moving to LibreOffice easier. The main reason I’d stuck with Office for so many years was its familiarity. The consistency of the interface over decades made switching to a different suite difficult to justify. Microsoft’s abandoning of that familiar, consistent, interface not only removed that impediment, but actually encouraged me to adopt a substantially equivalent alternative.


In most law offices during the mid 1980’s to mid 1990’s, WordPerfect was the weapon of choice when it came to word processing. Even after Windows became ubiquitous on desktops, WordPerfect for DOS continued to be favored because of its inherent efficiency and reliability. Although WordPress was the program that defined word processing for a generation of lawyers, my own personal favorite of all time was XyWrite III. Churning out masses of documents with XyWrite was like charging through a blizzard on the New York State Thruway in a Plymouth Fury.

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About phil

My name is Phil Lembo. In my day job I’m an enterprise IT architect for a leading distribution and services company. The rest of my time I try to maintain a semi-normal family life in the suburbs of Raleigh, NC. E-mail me at philipATlembobrothersDOTcom. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own and not those of my employers, past, present or future (except where I quote others, who will need to accept responsibility for their own rants).