Few things in this world can divide opinions like the way Microsoft’s ribbon interface does. First seen in Office 2007, ribbon menus are now ready to take over more screen real estate. As you might already know, Windows 8 will feature a system-wide implementation of the ribbon interface. The
Windows engineering team on Monday posted a few screenshots of the all new Windows Explorer in all its “ribbonized” glory on the Building Windows 8 blog
. Hit the jump to see the old workhorse caparisoned in, well, ribbons.
To ensure a cogent argument in favor of the Explorer’s ribbonization, the Windows 8 engineering team turned to numbers and graphs. “Only 2 of the top 10 commands customers invoke in Explorer are available in the Command bar, the main UI element for invoking commands,” wrote Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft's Windows and Windows Live division.
“This further reinforced our thinking that there was a big opportunity here to improve Explorer by making common commands more readily available. A clear user interface design principle is that frequently used commands should be easy to get to—clearly we had not yet accomplished that with existing designs.”
According to Sinofsky, once the team was done making sense of all the telemetry data at its disposal, it turned to customers for feedback, most of which revolved around “requests to bring back features from Windows XP that were removed in Windows Vista.” All this helped the developers arrive at three broad goals: optimization of Explorer for file management, streamlining of the command experience and honoring Explorer’s heritage. After considering a number of different approaches, they settled for the ribbon interface as they think it ticks all three boxes. Some of the benefits of this approach as per the Windows 8 team are:
Exposes hidden features that they already use but which require third party add-ons to use in the Explorer UI today.
Provides keyboard shortcuts for every command in the ribbon, something many people have been asking for.
Provides UI customization with the quick access toolbar, taking us back to a customization level that is basically equivalent to Windows XP.