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Office 2007 UI License

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the guidelines-available-but-not-to-you dept.

281

MikeWeller writes, "Microsoft has recently announced a new licensing program for the Office 2007 user interface. This page links to the license and an MSDN Channel9 interview about the program (featuring a lawyer). The program 'allows virtually anyone to obtain a royalty-free license to use the new Office UI in a software product. There's only one limitation: if you are building a program which directly competes with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, or Access (the Microsoft applications with the new UI), you can't obtain the royalty-free license.' What does this mean for OpenOffice? Will traditional menus/toolbars hold up to an ever-increasing number of features, or will OO be forced to take on a new UI paradigm? With the gap between OO and MS Office widening, how is this going to affect users trying to move between the two platforms?" You need to sign the license before you can get the 120-page UI implementation guidelines, which are confidential.

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Fair enough (4, Insightful)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948290)

Fair enough. You want to compete? Then work your ass off...

First (1)

fire4ever (630478) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948296)

First post !

Re:First (1)

evansky (997783) | more than 7 years ago | (#16949696)

loo-hoo-SER!!

I think we've had too much license as it is! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16948302)

Atheism, not religion, is the real force behind the mass murders of history

RANCHO SANTA FE, CALIF. - In recent months, a spate of atheist books have argued that religion represents, as "End of Faith" author Sam Harris puts it, "the most potent source of human conflict, past and present."

Columnist Robert Kuttner gives the familiar litany. "The Crusades slaughtered millions in the name of Jesus. The Inquisition brought the torture and murder of millions more. After Martin Luther, Christians did bloody battle with other Christians for another three centuries."

In his bestseller "The God Delusion," Richard Dawkins contends that most of the world's recent conflicts - in the Middle East, in the Balkans, in Northern Ireland, in
Kashmir, and in Sri Lanka - show the vitality of religion's murderous impulse.

The problem with this critique is that it exaggerates the crimes attributed to religion, while ignoring the greater crimes of secular fanaticism. The best example of religious persecution in America is the Salem witch trials. How many people were killed in those trials? Thousands? Hundreds? Actually, fewer than 25. Yet the event still haunts the liberal imagination.

It is strange to witness the passion with which some secular figures rail against the misdeeds of the Crusaders and Inquisitors more than 500 years ago. The number sentenced to death by the Spanish Inquisition appears to be about 10,000. Some historians contend that an additional 100,000 died in jail due to malnutrition or illness.

These figures are tragic, and of course population levels were much lower at the time. But even so, they are minuscule compared with the death tolls produced by the atheist despotisms of the 20th century. In the name of creating their version of a religion-free utopia, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Zedong produced the kind of mass slaughter that no Inquisitor could possibly match. Collectively these atheist tyrants murdered more than 100 million people.

Moreover, many of the conflicts that are counted as "religious wars" were not fought over religion. They were mainly fought over rival claims to territory and power. Can the wars between England and France be called religious wars because the English were Protestants and the French were Catholics? Hardly.

The same is true today. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not, at its core, a religious one. It arises out of a dispute over self-determination and land. Hamas and the extreme orthodox parties in
Israel may advance theological claims - "God gave us this land" and so forth - but the conflict would remain essentially the same even without these religious motives. Ethnic rivalry, not religion, is the source of the tension in Northern Ireland and the Balkans.

p>Yet today's atheists insist on making religion the culprit. Consider Mr. Harris's analysis of the conflict in Sri Lanka. "While the motivations of the Tamil Tigers are not explicitly religious," he informs us, "they are Hindus who undoubtedly believe many improbable things about the nature of life and death." In other words, while the Tigers see themselves as combatants in a secular political struggle, Harris detects a religious motive because these people happen to be Hindu and surely there must be some underlying religious craziness that explains their fanaticism.

Harris can go on forever in this vein. Seeking to exonerate secularism and atheism from the horrors perpetrated in their name, he argues that Stalinism and Maoism were in reality "little more than a political religion." As for Nazism, "while the hatred of Jews in Germany expressed itself in a predominantly secular way, it was a direct inheritance from medieval Christianity." Indeed, "The holocaust marked the culmination of ... two thousand years of Christian fulminating against the Jews."

One finds the same inanities in Mr. Dawkins's work. Don't be fooled by this rhetorical legerdemain. Dawkins and Harris cannot explain why, if Nazism was directly descended from medieval Christianity, medieval Christianity did not produce a Hitler. How can a self-proclaimed atheist ideology, advanced by Hitler as a repudiation of Christianity, be a "culmination" of 2,000 years of Christianity? Dawkins and Harris are employing a transparent sleight of hand that holds Christianity responsible for the crimes committed in its name, while exonerating secularism and atheism for the greater crimes committed in their name.

Religious fanatics have done things that are impossible to defend, and some of them, mostly in the Muslim world, are still performing horrors in the name of their creed. But if religion sometimes disposes people to self-righteousness and absolutism, it also provides a moral code that condemns the slaughter of innocents. In particular, the moral teachings of Jesus provide no support for - indeed they stand as a stern rebuke to - the historical injustices perpetrated in the name of Christianity.

Atheist hubris
The crimes of atheism have generally been perpetrated through a hubristic ideology that sees man, not God, as the creator of values. Using the latest techniques of science and technology, man seeks to displace God and create a secular utopia here on earth. Of course if some people - the Jews, the landowners, the unfit, or the handicapped - have to be eliminated in order to achieve this utopia, this is a price the atheist tyrants and their apologists have shown themselves quite willing to pay. Thus they confirm the truth of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's dictum, "If God is not, everything is permitted."

Whatever the motives for atheist bloodthirstiness, the indisputable fact is that all the religions of the world put together have in 2,000 years not managed to kill as many people as have been killed in the name of atheism in the past few decades.

It's time to abandon the mindlessly repeated mantra that religious belief has been the greatest source of human conflict and violence. Atheism, not religion, is the real force behind the mass murders of history.

* Dinesh D'Souza is the Rishwain Fellow at the Hoover Institution. His new book, "The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11," will be published in January.

Hey how nice, a copypaste troll (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16948752)

please go home and play with yourself. Oh you are?

so, what this seems to say (5, Insightful)

yagu (721525) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948324)

So, what this seems to say: Microsoft will allow anybody and everybody to plant their seed (the ribbon UI), to start the viral/grassroots campaign to their way of doing things. Unless and until it conflicts with their existing products.

It's royalty free... translation: Microsoft gets a free ad campaign. But for those who may not be familiar with the company Microsoft, Microsoft is not likely to be friendly about anyone using their UI on any product down the road they decide should be protected.

So are these the dying rattle breaths of a behemoth unable to compete today? Or is it one more salvo (consider Ballmer and his innuendo about Microsoft's Novell-Linux pact) in a war to control even more tightly the computing business world?

Re:so, what this seems to say (1, Funny)

Luscious868 (679143) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948396)

But for those who may not be familiar with the company Microsoft
Uh, this is Slashdot. Not only are most readers familiar with Microsoft, but they also hate them as much as you do.

Re:so, what this seems to say (1)

diersing (679767) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948450)

If only Apple would have thought of this... I wonder what the Windows desktop would look like today.

Re:so, what this seems to say (3, Informative)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 7 years ago | (#16950102)

Well, Apple did kind of think about it, and spent a lot of time suing Microsoft in the mid-eighties and early nineties (which was rather odd because pre-'95, Windows looked nothing like Mac OS, and even Windows 95 has significant differences.)

Different people have different takes on it. Some say Microsoft resolved the suit when it paid Apple the millions of dollars it did in the infamous Steve Jobs "Microsoft is our friend, Microsoft has always been our friend" keynote in the late nineties. Others say that Apple lost the suit, after successfully bullying companies for long enough using the suit that it didn't really matter (Digital Research is a famous example, who rewrote GEM's "Finder" equivalent to be completely un-Mac like after Apple sued, but after they'd already sold the earlier version to Atari, who continued to bundle the Mac-like version of GEM with the ST for years.)

Re:so, what this seems to say (4, Insightful)

phase_9 (909592) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948510)

So, what this seems to say: Microsoft will allow anybody and everybody to plant their seed (the ribbon UI), to start the viral/grassroots campaign to their way of doing things. Unless and until it conflicts with their existing products.

Couldn't have said it better myself. This is Microsoft's way of trying to get a 'unique new interface' rolled out as rapidly as possible. If you're not using this 'unique new interface' then you know you're behind the time - hell, knowing Microsoft products, it also means you're probably about to be EOL [microsoft.com] 'd!

"Dude, You're still using XP with those crappy flat menus.... wow..."

I genuinely hope that the public don't buy this latest round of Msft. bullsh-t, Office 2003 is still perfectly capable, why should users be forced to upgrade?

*sigh*

Re:so, what this seems to say (2, Funny)

alexhs (877055) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948728)

"Dude, You're still using XP with those crappy flat menus.... wow..."

... you must be a dinosaur [microsoft.com]

Re:so, what this seems to say (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16949902)

Office 2003 is still perfectly capable, why should users be forced to upgrade?

Who is 'forcing' users to do anything? Where exactly on the Office 2003 advertising literature say that users are entitled to everlasting product support?

Users are perfectly free to chose a competing product with a longer support period if they so wish - the only blame Microsoft can be attributed here is for making such a good office suite that nobody feels the need to do this.

Re:so, what this seems to say (4, Interesting)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948520)

I think that most reviewers had problems with the new UI because many (most?) people who use MS word have enough trouble with moving between different versions when there is very little UI change. A complete overhaul such as this would be terrible, especially when all the other applications they still use have a completely different UI. I think this is a method of getting more applications that work the same as the new MS Office, so that people start to think that it's more worth it to learn the new UI rather than just stick with the old software, or switch to OO.o, since it's more like Word 2003 is than the new MS Word. I think that MS is taking a brave stance by trying to move away from the tried and true UI, but I think that many users will have a lot of trouble learning the new interface. Remember the UI hasn't changed this drastically since the move to windows in MS Word 6(?).

Re:so, what this seems to say (1)

PingSpike (947548) | more than 7 years ago | (#16949136)

I'm no so sure I'd call their stance brave. I think the word is irrational...or if we want to use several words, 'out of touch with their users'. One of the things microsoft used to do right was to enforce a standard interface for applications. But since XP came out they've been trying to change the foundation heavily for every iteration...and for no good reason that I can see! Was the old interface really that inefficient? I know when I first start up a fresh install of XP I spend a fair amount of time making it look like windows 2000, as much as can be. Because why should I have to learn a new interface for windows? Why does it now take 5 clicks to do what used to take 2? Even if we allow for the idea that maybe the drastic interface overhaul makes it genuinely easier on new users, its being done at the expense of old users and developers. Less savy old users may not be able to find that obscure task in control panel anymore, that they'd barely learned how to do in the old version. Developers constantly have the carpet pulled out from under them as Microsoft changes the rules of the game. And those coveted new users...well, they have a pretty interface. Its to bad many of the applications they use subscribe to the old one, essentially leaving them forced to learn a little bit of the old standard interface anyway. There was an article yesterday regarding office and how it was hard to get people to feel they needed the new version when the old version was 'good enough'. My thoughts on that were because office was 'done'. I just don't feel that product can benefit from signifigant changes at this point. But MS wants that upgrade cycle to continue, so they start reinventing the wheel. I said I saw no good reason for the change, but I know there's a reason. A new interface probably offers the least actual benefit to the users, but is the most noticable change. The question is, will people be amazed by the new and shiney enough to endure relearning what they already learned?

Re:so, what this seems to say (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#16950288)

The UI seems to be getting worse and worse each time they make a major overhaul, because they don't go update all their existing software. So if you're running Windows XP, then there's a lot of stuff (Included in the OS) that still has the windows 98 UI, or an even older UI. I read somewhere that Windows Vista includes applications with 5 different UIs because not everything was upgraded to work with the new Vista UI, and some of it hasn't been upgraded since 3.1. The worst part isn't the fact that they changed the UI, but that they changed some of it, and now the UI isn't consistent, so new users have to learn 5 UIs and existing users have to learn yet another UI.

Re:so, what this seems to say (4, Interesting)

Randolpho (628485) | more than 7 years ago | (#16949176)

I think that MS is taking a brave stance by trying to move away from the tried and true UI, but I think that many users will have a lot of trouble learning the new interface.
I tend to agree with you on both points. Changing UIs like that is a gutsy move. Even the switch to the windows 95 OS interface didn't change much about the overall window UI from 3.x. This is a huge move.

That said, I've asked folks at MS several times at conferences about the switch, and they all give a similar answer. Their research indicates that users overwhelmingly prefer the new UI over the old menu-driven approach.

It's a gutsy move, but they're sure it'll be a welcome one.

Re:so, what this seems to say (1)

rvw (755107) | more than 7 years ago | (#16949388)

I suppose the move to Windows was much more radical. Still, this is no.2. I don't know yet if I'll use it or not. Is it possible to go back to the classic menu? Like in XP you can use the Windows Classic style? It's the first thing I do after installing XP: change that ugly blue theme and go to the classic start menu, set explorer to the classic style.

Re:so, what this seems to say (5, Insightful)

Total_Wimp (564548) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948530)

This is not the first time MS has placed this kind of restriction. The MSDN, a large pack of software used by subscription and intended for developers, has had a similar restriction since well before 2000. It says, in a nutshell, that you can use the software to develop anything except a general purpose suite of office software.

It's kind of stupid to offer development tools and then restrict developers, especially if you're interested in convincing people that you're not using your monopoly improperly. It looks bad. But I gotta ask, why on Earth should open source developers care?

Do you want to be in Microsoft's shadow? Are you an "almost as good" substitute for MS, or are you actually better? Do you have origional ideas?

AMD didn't get where it is now by continuing to copy Intel. It got here by at some point realizing it could do better. Intel ended up following them. If you want to look, act and be just like Microsoft, then you should be upset over this. If you want to look and act like something better, then this is just a good reminder that that is your goal.

TW

Re:so, what this seems to say (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16948814)

The problem is that Microsoft is encouraging others to help them create an international Office UI standard that will be proprietary. It enforces the notion that much of what will be included is their property, and it creates a standardization that they own. It is grossly anti-competitive and monopolistic behavior.

Re:so, what this seems to say (1)

Psiren (6145) | more than 7 years ago | (#16949888)

Do you want to be in Microsoft's shadow? Are you an "almost as good" substitute for MS, or are you actually better? Do you have origional ideas?

The problem with this is Microsoft have a huge budget and endless resources to develop these new ideas. On the flip side, while the "open source community" can probably outdo Microsoft in terms of developer numbers, there is no effectve way of mobilising that "workforce" towards a common goal. Even Sun has been unable to create a usable GUI for Openoffice. It sucks terribly in comparison with MS Office.

I'll be the first to cheer when someone comes up with a more usable interface. I won't be holding my breath though.

Don't be so quick to dismiss Microsoft's effort. They will have done a huge amount of usability testing before release. Personally I quite like the new ribbon design, and especially like the little fade-in popup when you select text. Minmize the ribbon and you have a very clear and uncluttered interface.

Re:so, what this seems to say (2, Insightful)

JohnQPublic (158027) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948646)

Hey, there's no law that says you have to make your application look like MS Office. But since most applications on Windows (and many FS/OSS applications as well) try to do so, it's nice to know how, and to know that the only folks who could try to stop you from doing it won't. Cut Microsoft a break here - they deserve it in this case.

On the other hand, the strong implication in this is that Microsoft has defensible intellectual property underlying the Office 2007 UI. It wouldn't surprise me to find that there are a bunch of patents involved. So ... if you're against software patents, you should consider what approach to take. Personally, I'd avoid replicating their interface anyway.

Are you delusional? (2, Insightful)

shaneh0 (624603) | more than 7 years ago | (#16949942)

"the dying rattle breaths of a behemoth unable to compete today?"

I'm sorry, but your flair for the dramatic is a little much, even by slashdot standards.

"dying rattle breaths?" "unable to compete?"

Please. Aside from the notorious cash reserves, they're still making profits hand over fist.

When they start posting red ink, then we'll talk, but I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you...

Ingenuity (4, Insightful)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948336)

Ingenuity is Microsoft's best friend when it comes to fight GPL-licenced products. We are seeing the beginning of that.

Re:Ingenuity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16948674)

We haven't seen the beginning. What we *are* seeing is Microsoft acknowledging that they can't buy the creative ingenuity anymore. When they were young and exploding, minting millionaires by the minute, then they could. Now that they grow a more traditional rate fewer creative folks are willing to whore themselves as part of the hive.

Re:Ingenuity (2, Insightful)

Josh Lindenmuth (1029922) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948946)

I don't know if I'd say this is the "beginning". Microsoft has been investing Billions in research and design for years, the new Office UI is simply an extension of that. They've also been allowing developers to use their UI components for years, the only difference here is that developers will not be able to use those UI components for a product that replicates the functionality within Excel, Word, Access, or PowerPoint.

For developers creating Windows products, this is a great license to obtain. I really don't see much of an impact on OpenOffice, as it doesn't even attempt to place any restrictions on what competitors can do, it just states that competitors can't use their Ribbon interface. Since OpenOffice is cross-platform, its developers would probably never choose to use the MS Interface outright, but likely develop their own similar Ribbon interface (if it was even worth porting, which is debatable), since it would be more compatible accross platforms and limit legal liability.

Microsoft will always spend Billions on creating slicker and easier to use interfaces. This has almost zero impact on Linux's server market (and advantages), which is why Linux has made such market share inroads on the server side. The impact is greatest though on the Desktop, where ease of use, ease of installation, and UI friendliness are far more important (and these are areas that are given a relatively lower priority by the programmers than by the Microsoft Marketing and Strategy departments).

Ingenuity? (2, Interesting)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 7 years ago | (#16949590)

The words "Microsoft" and "ingenuity" hardly belong in the same sentence. Considering the billions they allegedly spend on R&D, and I personally don't believe they really spend that much, you'd think they could deliver a better, more reliable product. MSFT has purchased its most innovative products. They haven't developed anything internally that's a home run product in nearly a decade. Their market position is more the result of file formats and OEM agreements than any creative development. They're sort of like Disney after they got rid of all the animators, costume designers and set builders. Just a shell with the name of the imaginative company they used to be.

The open source development model offers a more competitive approach to developing a UI and final product can be configured to user preferences and specific needs. There's no way a focus group will ever be able to compete with an arena where survival of the fittest determines the most useful products and configurations.

Ha-ha! (-1, Troll)

ThePhilips (752041) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948338)

Well, every reviewer condemned the UI changes M$ did for the new office suite.

And now developers would be somehow obliged to license something what isn't protected by any law: patent, trademark nor copyright.

What I'm missing here? Can M$ force somebody into that license? Wouldn't be the same as with SCO Linux license (direct parallel): you gain nothing (but SCO's promise not to sue) and lose freedom to modify/redistribute Linux by yourself. Wouldn't developers end up in that situation?

Re:Ha-ha! (2, Insightful)

MartinJW (961693) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948474)

Well, every reviewer condemned the UI changes M$ did for the new office suite.

Did they? I seem to recall that the majority of reviews (I have read) actually thought the ribbon was a bad idea, until they tried it - at which point they thought it a great enhancement in managing the function bloat.

Re:Ha-ha! (1)

k33l0r (808028) | more than 7 years ago | (#16949568)

I don't know about reviews but personally I hate that god damn ribbon item. I've been using Office 2007 beta 2 since it came out for public downloading and I've really come to despise the thing. Sure it's easier to use basic functions but to do nearly anything beyond changing the font is far more difficult now then it was in Office 2003.

One example I can think of is trying to insert a file (e.g. a web page or .doc file) into a document in Word. I still haven't found out how to do this in the ribbon. Eventually I just added the insert function to the so-called "Quick Access" tool bar.

It's just a shame that I'm too lazy to reinstall 2003...

Re:Ha-ha! (1)

PDAllen (709106) | more than 7 years ago | (#16949012)

No, of course they can't. The idea is that a lot of developers who don't want to write an Office competitor anyway may well be interested in the freebie: it makes their product look like an MS product and it's (presumably) easier to use the freebie than write your own MS-style UI code. For the average customer, MS-style means it looks professional. Which is a big selling point.

What MS get out of this is that when you have a desktop full of applications which all have one UI style, any other style looks out of place, so the competition looks bad. Same deal as with VB: you can write your app in VB and it does a lot of GUI creation for you, but what you get will be MS-style buttons and so on.

Re:Ha-ha! (1)

TheSunborn (68004) | more than 7 years ago | (#16949058)

But Microsoft don't give out ANY code to the new ui. So it's a
"Ok you may clone our look and feel, but you have to write all the code your self."

Writing a normal look and feel application would be much more easy, because windows contains much of the needed widget code.

I think the courts have made it pretty clear (5, Interesting)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948350)

You can copy any UI that you want to.

This is just a clear threat to competitors that they're going to be spending millions defending frivolous law suits. Interesting that Microsoft have decided that their business model is now to sue competitors.
 

Re:I think the courts have made it pretty clear (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16948548)

Yeah, I agree, this is a fucking joke. MS are not giving away an implementation of the UI. Just the "right" to copy it. Well ffs Microsoft, you copied the entire Windows UI from Xerox. As the OP says, anyone can copy your UI. In fact there's a ribbon bar in at least one commercial UI Windows toolbox I know of - what are MS trying to say to that company?

Basically what this says is, IF you download the document, you CAN'T implement the UI unless MS sign off on your implementation. But if you ignore this propagandist nonsense, you can implement any UI you like including a poorly implemented version of the Ribbon UI.

Jeez. Wake me up when it's in the Win32 API.

Re:I think the courts have made it pretty clear (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16949602)

No, not anyone can copy your UI. UIs are patentable, and a great many patents have been issued by USPTO for software user interfaces. These are called design patents specifically because they specifically refer to the non-obvious visual elements of the software. Office makes use of a new paradigm. Whether or not you like it it is the result of a great deal of investment in focus groups and user interaction studies. Microsoft spent money to develop the paradigm and stands to benefit from their investment.

What Microsoft has done here is offer to component vendors the right to build third-party components to mimic the behavior in it's entirity. It is correct that Microsoft is not giving out any code, but to these vendors that isn't material anyway as they all have functional prototypes if not products at this stage. Microsoft has "blessed" them to release their implementations and given them access to the usability information they determined during their testing phases as well as the explicit behaviors that the Office implementation adopts.

Re:I think the courts have made it pretty clear (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948588)

I don't think this is about copying the UI elements.
Its about USING the microsoft provided controls inside your programs.

There were similar restrictions (if I remember rightly) regarding using original MS Access to build a database management program.

Re:I think the courts have made it pretty clear (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948892)

Ain't what it says in the announcement: "For those that want to build their own UI that takes advantage of our design guidelines, they will need a license."
 

Re:I think the courts have made it pretty clear (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 7 years ago | (#16949308)

That's interesting legal advice. I'm pretty sure the courts in every major jurisdiction where this has come up have clearly disagreed.

Re:I think the courts have made it pretty clear (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#16950054)

The courts have ruled on copying existing UIs. If someone took a copy of Office 2007, examined the UI, and developed something compatible, this would be legal. The non-compete clause is in the license for the document containing the human interface guidelines, and basically says 'if you're going to compete with us, don't expect our help.' It seems like it has the potential to land them in hot water from an antitrust perspective, but it should be enforceable under contract law.

Re:I think the courts have made it pretty clear (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 7 years ago | (#16950252)

It seems like it has the potential to land them in hot water from an antitrust perspective, but it should be enforceable under contract law.

Perhaps it is, but surely that applies only if another party has entered into that contract. AFAICS, there is nothing to stop anyone from just observing what Microsoft applications do, and coding a user interface that works similarly without the help of MS's guidelines.

Re:I think the courts have made it pretty clear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16949314)

Well said, sir.

If there was an implementation you could use, a license would be meaningful. But there isn't. It's basically saying that if you want to copy the look and feel, come to us and we'll sign you up with that "right" in return for which you agree to 120 pages of finicky requirements. It's a trap. Once you sign you have to follow the requirements - and that's going to bury any real-life UI project in about 30 seconds.

Re:I think the courts have made it pretty clear (2, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948664)

You can copy any UI that you want to.

This isn't about (AFAICT, and I'm not clicking through their legal stuff from work) "copying", it's about the licensing terms for their library. Which, for the benefit of the "dying rattle breaths of a behemoth unable to compete today" guy, are the same terms they've always used.

Re:I think the courts have made it pretty clear (4, Informative)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948828)

Nope, nothing to do with the library. It's the User Interface they're licensing.

From the announcement:

"For those that want to build their own UI that takes advantage of our design guidelines, they will need a license."

 

Re:I think the courts have made it pretty clear (1)

AnotherBrian (319405) | more than 7 years ago | (#16949370)

It sounds like they are licensing a template. If you want there's, then accept the license or make your own. They can't stop you from making a copy your self. This seems like the same thing as the license for wxWidgets or some other GUI library.

The Gap (2, Insightful)

lseltzer (311306) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948358)

>>With the gap between OO and MS Office widening...

Well this is an interesting statement full of subjective possibility. I could probably argue a half dozen different interpretations.

I... don't understand. (0)

brennanw (5761) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948374)

But I better learn quick, because this screams PLEASE GOD, PLEASE SOMEBODY PARODY ME, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE and by GOD I will ANSWER THAT CALL.

MS Office UI sucks anyway (-1, Flamebait)

Qbertino (265505) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948386)

The MS Office UI sucks anyway. It's basically historically grown, derived from ancient concepts. Same as with Outlook. The best Office UI I know is from Lotus SmartSuite. Classic but yet with streamlines usability. OpenOffice would be better of dropping their MS-rippoff anyway asap.

Re:MS Office UI sucks anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16948686)

You don't even know what this is all about, do you?

This is about the new user interface concept called "Ribbon" used in Office 2007.

Sometimes I wonder if Slashdot readers even bother reading those articles they dare to comment...

Re:MS Office UI sucks anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16949234)

I agree. The cleanest, least cluttered user interface I ever came across was smartsuit, particularly the wordpro part of it. Modeless, instantly effective option boxes were excellent. You could see the effect of your changes instantly, almost never resorting to menus.

I keep hoping that OO will implement something similar...

The myth of Windows GUI consistency. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16948418)

One thing that those who dislike the X Window System often suggest is that it lacks consistency. They say that the GUI styles change too much between different applications, and then they suggest that Windows offers a much more consistent GUI. Of course, we can see this is quite a false assertion to be making!

Windows has just as little GUI consistency as X. This new Office interface totally deviates from anything they've done in the past. The IE7 interface is completely different, as well. It used to just be that it was certain apps, like iTunes and WinAmp, that used their own stylings. But with Microsoft's new GUIs, user interface consistency has become a thing of the past on Windows.

I wonder if we'll still hear such Windows advocates use the point that most Windows applications tend to use a consistent interface style. If they do, we can surely shoot their sorry asses down. As it stands, the only platform offering consistent UIs is Mac OS X. Otherwise, Windows has become just as much of a hodge-podge of different appearances and UI layouts as a typical X installation.

Re:The myth of Windows GUI consistency. (1)

_the_bascule (740525) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948554)

In your post you mention X windows consistency ... what do you mean by that exactly, there is the old technicality that X is not a Desktop Enviroment, more a GUI frame work. I use KDE and I can assure you that all K* apps are fantastically consistent in there design...

Re:The myth of Windows GUI consistency. (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948650)

Indeed, with more applications moving to Gnome or KDE, I guess on Linux the problem will lessen over time. Moreover, the high configurability of the Linux GUIs means that distributions can make the UIs of both quite similar in the distribution's default configurations.

Thus maybe at some time we get to a situation where Linux interfaces are actually more consistent than Windows interfaces!

Re:The myth of Windows GUI consistency. (4, Informative)

ardor (673957) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948700)

Well, obviously, X has *NO* consistency because it has no standard widgets. Windows has. WINAPI contains buttons, sliders, scrollbars, text edits, menus etc. So the *base* for consistency is there, which cannot be said for X.

But MS violate their own standards by creating custom widgets for Office and IE. This is something widely criticized by UI designers.

However, usually the WinAPI widgets are the core of Windows GUIs (tweaked buttons, menus ...) Very little programs create their own widgets from the ground up. In X, Qt does everything from scratch, just like GTK, FOX, Athena, Motif, etc. The important thing is that their behaviour is not fully consistent. Aside from funny Office/IE widgets, I can reuse my knowledge with one Windows GUI when using another. Most Windows apps do NOT use custom widgets.

However, nowadays GTK and Qt have little custom quirks of this sort. Their differences are mostly optical (but it is a visual inconsistency when 90% of all apps are Qt/KDE-based and only one program uses GTK). However, the presence of two major TKs is a problem because distros tend to choose only one of these two. In this case you end up with a dependency that may be big enough to turn users and more importantly distro makers away (like "oh no, my system is purely GTK-based, I dont want Qt anywhere").

Re:The myth of Windows GUI consistency. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16949486)

Most Windows apps do not use custom widgets? Rubbish. You'd be hard pressed to find any Windows app made in the last decade that doesn't use custom widgets.

Why? The Win32 API's widgets are pathetic. Basically, they do slightly more than Windows 3.1's widgets did, and nothing more.

At the very least, most Windows programs implement their own menus, toolbars, buttons, tab boxes, scrolling panes, status bars, text input areas, and often a huge list of weird custom widgets that no other program uses (like the URL box in most web browsers, or even simple things like a directory listing). The default widgets are unusable, and hideously ugly. About the only widgets that are used without major modification are checkboxes, radio buttons, and scroll bars (the parts that don't do anything).

Windows can't even manage a consistent text editor field. Standard editing shortcuts (like Ctrl+Backspace, or Ctrl+Del), or even standard features like the insert toggle, cut and paste and undo are not implemented consistently across applications, or even within one application.

There is basically no consistency. The only case where you get ANY consistency is where developers imitate the latest Microsoft GUI.

At least in X GUIs, the base toolkits (commonly Qt and GTK) provide a rich set of powerful widgets, almost completely negating the need for a developer to ever feel tempted to write their own.

Re:The myth of Windows GUI consistency. (1)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 7 years ago | (#16950144)

Yeah, X has no consistency whatsoever. The GTK-Qt theme doesn't exist.

How about you show me a way to have MS Word, IE7, MS Antispyware, the Add/Remove Programs panel and the rest of windows all LOOK THE FUCKING SAME.

Re:The myth of Windows GUI consistency. (1)

bsdluvr (932942) | more than 7 years ago | (#16949066)

You should try QtCurve [kde-look.org] . It has a Qt and a GTK2 theme, and renders almost 100% identical on both. It's highly configurable too, and can be made to look quite nice.

There's even a GTK1 theme, but the author dropped support for it a few versions back.

Re:The myth of Windows GUI consistency. (2, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#16950110)

Any competent HCI person will tell you that this is a bad idea. GTK and Qt applications do not behave quite the same way, and by making them look the same way you remove a visual clue from the user that they are going to be different.

Re:The myth of OS X GUI consistency. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16949348)

While OS X may be more consistent than some others, I would not say it is the be-all-end-all of interface consistency. I can currently think of at least 5 separate GUI styles: Aqua, Metal, Combined Aqua (is that Uno? Whatever the name is...), iTunes 7 (pure ugliness), and Garage Band (Whatever). Granted, even though the look is different between these, the feel is pretty much the same...

(Disclaimer: I really do like Macs. I just think that one single GUI look is the correct way to do things...)

So what? (4, Insightful)

eighty4 (987543) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948540)

What does this mean for OpenOffice?

Of course I didn't RTFA, but considering that OO.o is a) multiplatform, b) open source, and c) doing fine as it is, I'd imagine the folks at OO.o will be filing this under D for Don't Give A Shit.

Seriously - would you lose any sleep because MS won't give you a new toy? Even if OO.o wanted it, and even if MS gave them it, they probably couldn't use it because it'll probably be Vista- (or at least Windows-)only.

And seeing as most critics have slammed the new MS Office UI as being generally awful, it's not beyond the realms of possibility that OO.o's similarity to the "old" MS Office UI might pick them up a few users.

C

Re:So what? (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948798)

Well, I kind of agree.

I agree from the perspective that I am sure nobody will *rush* to implement the new interface design on its products. I was pissed off when I downloaded the new Messenger from microsoft which had the menu bar hidden (you could enable it but meh!).

Also, just 2 days ago a flatmate who is VERY computer illiterate asked me to help her making Adobe documents appear in the Firefox Window. I was surprised she said "Firefox Window" and as she explained me she downloaded firefox because after accepting the upgrade of Interet Explorer a lot of things where broken (this is translated to, the UI got SO different on IE7... and Firefox had a very similar UI to IE6).

I fixed that by reinstalling Adobe Reader. Then she asked me for something (unfortunately I dont know how to achieve that). The problem she had is that on IE6 she had a Word icon (I remember that) which, when you pressed, the page she was looking at was "opened" in Word. I told she could do the same by Selecting all then copy and then paste in Word, but certainly she was right telling me that it was easier (her word was "better") before as she just had to click once. I don't know if this functionality is available in firefox, as I myself have tried to COPY+PASTE a page from Fx to Word and it only copies as text not as HTML. As IE7 I could not help her adding the Word button.

Anyway, returning to the Office matter, looking at my previous experience, I am sure a lot of people will feel similarly with the new office UI. I was discussing with a friend about the Linux vs Windows issue, this friend is computer illiterate and she knows Linux because some geek tried to push it into her work and they tried to teach them how to use it. She told me that, the problem is we are SO FAMILIAR with the current ways to do things (Windows XP) that anything different is going to "feel" difficult. And for the majority of people they "learnt" to use a computer when they learnt Windows95/ME/XP and Office98/2000/2003. And having to learn to use Linux implies having to learn *again* how to use it and they dont have the time to do it.

I remember when my father migrated from Win3.11 to Win95, the first thing he told me is that Microsoft had hidden everything very deep. The truth is that everything is there but we all had to re-learn how to use the computer (as we use the computer trough the OS).

The same thing will happen with the new Office UI. Of course, the current menu driven interface is terrible in my opinion. It is okey when you have few options, but as we have seen when you have *lots* of options what you will achieve is to hide those options in the deepest submenu entry along with 15 more options ont hat submenu.

OO excluded from the license? (1)

Sicnarf (529730) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948542)

from the licence:
"e. "Excluded Products" are software products or components, or web-based or hosted services that perform primarily the same general functions as the Microsoft Office Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Access software applications, and that are created or marketed as a replacement for any or all of those Microsoft applications."

i'm not sure if openoffice was created or marketed as a replacement to ms office. from their mission statement: "To create, as a community, the leading international office suite that will run on all major platforms and provide access to all functionality and data through open-component based APIs and an XML-based file format."

Re:OO excluded from the license? (1)

craagz (965952) | more than 7 years ago | (#16950238)

I am currently running both Office 2007, to test out the ribbon and OOo, becoz it is Open.

I don't find them competing (as of now). Once MS Office 2007 is disabled after March 2007 i will just uninstall it.

They run pretty well on the same system, nothing like putting two anti virus programs would do.

I hate the ribbon, and hope OOo doesn't follow MS.

Compatibility (3, Insightful)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948568)

While I love to sell OO to my friends on the fact that it's so compatible with Office that's the only thing about it's compatibility that I like.

Office for the most part has had a good UI. It has served people well over the years with millions of people getting used to it and being productive with it. Copying the interface and features of Office is a good way to get people to switch (Hey, it's free and it does the same thing, cool!).

But in the end I think all this "we can do that too" mentality ends up stifling free software. While I applaud the efforts of OO and am grateful for it's inclusion in modern distros I would also love to see them wake up one day and deceide they were going to take a "and now for something completely different" approach. Forget chasing the MS UI. Come up with your own, or stick to the one that's in there already and work on optimizing OO's use of resources. Create more filters for different file formats. Expand on the scripting capabilities to make OO a better tool for office automation. The UI is fine the way it is! Tweak it, yeah, but redo it to make it look like MS every few years? Screw that!

I understand why they do it but watching the OO team spend the next few years implementing knock offs of ribbons only to see these supplanted by some new inane concept in Office 2010 just seems like a waste to me.

Re:Compatibility (2, Insightful)

udderly (890305) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948778)

I still don't understand why most people think that they need MS Office as opposed to the numerous lower priced or free offerings. Most people simply don't understand that you *do not* need a $400 office suite for word processing. No joke, most people I know think that MS Word is the only way to type a letter to Grandma.

Of the 500 or so users who work for my customers, only two individuals use any of the "advanced" features of Office. And both of these only use Mail Merge to create mass mailings. Hardly justifies the expense.

Most people do not even understand how to even properly format documents in MS Word, yet they blindly drop $400 every time a new version comes out. Ridiculous.

Re:Compatibility (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 7 years ago | (#16949514)

Most people simply don't understand that you *do not* need a $400 office suite for word processing.

I think perhaps it's you who doesn't understand. Most people don't pay $400 for MS Office. Businesses typically have volume licensing agreements that work out far cheaper. Those home users who have legal copies generally get one of the cut-down versions (possibly just Word) thrown in as part of a bundle with a new PC, just like Windows, and don't notice the cost because it's a relatively small part of a much larger number. Of the small number of home users who do buy it separately, most are smart enough to buy an upgrade rather than a new product, having established a chain of previously licensed software back to the dawn of time. Seriously, I don't know anyone who has ever paid anything like full price for the whole MS Office suite off-the-shelf.

You're absolutely right about the advanced features, though. It annoys the **** out of me that even though we use Word documents all the time at work, almost no-one understands basic concepts like style sheets for formatting. I sat in a video-enabled conference call with about a dozen senior members of staff the other day, and watched as the consultant leading the discussion spent literally minutes (out of a one-hour meeting) trying to get the extra bullet point we'd decided to add to a list to look the same as all the others. I shudder to think how much money that simple exercise cost due to the wasted time of all those other staff.

Re:Compatibility (1)

udderly (890305) | more than 7 years ago | (#16950196)

Businesses typically have volume licensing agreements that work out far cheaper.

Most of my customers are small business with fewer than 10 employees, so many of them are not eligible for big volume discounts (my nonprofit customers get MS products cheaply though). I was cabling a collision repair customer's shop yesterday and he had four MS Office SBE packages on his desk that he had purchased the previous day from Sam's Club. Why he didn't purchase OEM Versions from us is beyond me, since I ended up installing the software and will probably also end up supporting it. One of the reasons that he bought the Office suites is that it was in the "System Requirements" for his industry-specific software.

Of the small number of home users who do buy it separately, most are smart enough to buy an upgrade rather than a new product, having established a chain of previously licensed software back to the dawn of time.

Lol...probably true. However, upgrades are not that much cheaper, for example: http://www.samsclub.com/shopping/search.do?searcht ype=simple&catg=5678&simplesearchfor=Microsoft+Off ice&simpleitemtype=&x=0&y=0 [samsclub.com]

What would be smarter--though not necessarily legal--is to buy a Teacher & Students Edition off the intarweb for next to nothing http://www.amazon.com/Microsoft-Office-Student-Tea cher-Macintosh/dp/B0001WN16M [amazon.com] .

Re:Compatibility (2, Insightful)

coding_sheep (782156) | more than 7 years ago | (#16950002)

Business customers are paying the $400 to get Outlook not Word. Outlook's calendar is used to schedule most activities in large organizations. So really it is the integration provided by Exchange that people are paying for. If you don't use/need that integration then you are wasting $400.

Re:Compatibility (1)

Trelane (16124) | more than 7 years ago | (#16949128)

While I applaud the efforts of OO and am grateful for it's inclusion in modern distros I would also love to see them wake up one day and deceide they were going to take a "and now for something completely different" approach.

If they do something radically different, nobody will use it because it's Too Different, and hence a) hard to learn and b) expensive to train (heard this one in conjunction with Linux, eh?). If they do something too much the same, then nobody will use it because it's no different from the monopoly offering that everyone has and is familiar with. Catch-22.

Never mind that the new Office UI retraining difference costs will be pooh-poohed and shoved under the rug....

Re:Compatibility (1)

matvei (568098) | more than 7 years ago | (#16949482)

But in the end I think all this "we can do that too" mentality ends up stifling free software. While I applaud the efforts of OO and am grateful for it's inclusion in modern distros I would also love to see them wake up one day and deceide they were going to take a "and now for something completely different" approach.

Take a look at LyX [lyx.org] for a completely different take on word processing. I've found its user interface to be very pleasant to work with---all you have to do is write, and everything turns out looking great without you having to give it any thought. It's not compatible with MS Office or OO.o, but it's still great for creating PDFs and printed documents.

what what what? (3, Insightful)

awb131 (159522) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948610)

The license isn't royalty-free if you're building Office-style apps. So I ask, why would anyone want a royalty-free license for the user interface for Office applications (word processor, spreadsheet, database, personal info manager) unless they were building applications that would compete against Office?

Brain explodes.

What gap ? (2, Insightful)

alexhs (877055) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948628)

With the gap between OO and MS Office widening

You mean Microsoft Office 2007 is so much worse than OpenOffice.org 2.0 and Microsoft Office 2003 ?
It still doesn't number paragraphs (1.1, 1.2) or update references automatically whitout dirty hacks ?
It still retains locks on directories when closed ?
It still somehow corrupt your document once in a while (*) ?
...

(*) Last month I needed to save the document as an XML document because saving it as .doc would cause MS Office to crash a few ops after opening the file.

Re:What gap ? (1)

smallguy78 (775828) | more than 7 years ago | (#16949312)

Last month? It's only been out for 2 weeks. That was a *beta* you were using, and sounds like Word not Office. I've not had any of the problems you've mentioned from using Word 2007 for the past 2 weeks solidly to write fascinating functional specifications.

Re:What gap ? (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 7 years ago | (#16949958)

. I've not had any of the problems you've mentioned from using Word 2007 for the past 2 weeks

Isn't it always the NEXT version of Office that's going to be bug-free? Maybe, after 20 years, they'e got it right? Next: hydrogen fusion is just around the corner.

Re:What gap ? (2, Informative)

alexhs (877055) | more than 7 years ago | (#16950008)

I was talking about the Microsoft Office 2003 I need to suffer at work. Sorry if it wasn't clear.

If you want details :

Paragraphs numbering : MS Word. Most people here are using old canvas where numbering works. I asked to one guy how it was achieving it. He did tenths of tries clicking everywhere until it worked. Couldn't get a straightforward procedure. Out of curiosity, launched OpenOffice.org 2.0 at home. Did what seemed straightforward to me (selecting 1.1 scheme in bullets and numbering), almost same place as in MS-Office, and it just worked.

Locks : MS Excel. Import an XML file. Close Excel. Try to delete the directory in which the XML file belongs to. Doesn't work. XML file goes away but not the directory. AFAIK only two solutions : reboot MS-Windows or restart excel and import another document in another directory, to move the lock.

Document corruption : MS Word. It implied the integrated drawing tool. Just before crashing, funny things happened. I was writing in a text box and the text would be written to another text box at the same time. Seems two objects had the same index...

While I'm at it : Why does an Acces DB always grow, even when you're removing entries ?

how about prior art? (5, Informative)

p80 (771195) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948670)

the funny thing is that Quanta+ in KDE has had a similar UI with a ribbon for years now:
http://quanta.kdewebdev.org/screenshots//shot2.png [kdewebdev.org]
http://quanta.kdewebdev.org/screenshots//shot13.pn g [kdewebdev.org]

Do they need a license too?

Re:how about prior art? (2, Informative)

WhitePanther5000 (766529) | more than 7 years ago | (#16949560)

Yeah, not to mention Bluefish [homeunix.org] or Dreamweaver [sourceforge.net] ... It's a pretty common concept in web development applications, and I guess MS just decided to be "original" and throw it into an office suite.

Stealing ideas has gotten them this far... why stop now?

Implementation guidelines... (1)

SpanishArcher (974073) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948704)

...drag and drop the attached OCX to your application.
Congratulation :)

Menu structures are common across different models (2, Interesting)

davecb (6526) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948710)

Many moons ago, I worked on a product which started out using a "lotus 1-2-3" menu structure: one typed "/" then selected from a one-line list of options by typing individual characters.

My Smarter Colleagues noticed that from the same data structure we used for the lotus menus we could build PF-key menus, modern cascading drop-down menus and right-mouse-button pop-up menus.

Which means that for any menu sequence of head->middle->middle*->tail, you can change the visual appearance of the menu without changing the application-level calls used to create it. And that in turn means you can make "ribbon menus" a user-specifiable "skin".

--dave

isn't it just a modern/fancy lotus 123 style menu? (2, Interesting)

mcn (112855) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948748)

I am not a programmer/developer/UI designer. But to me, it seems like the new UI is just the horizontal equivalent of the vertical pull-down menu, with some sugar coating here and there. "Transpose" all those pull-downs and it more or less becomes a ribbon. It seems like the equivalent of the lotus 123 slash ("/") command, where pressing "/" brings you the horizontal menu.

The bigger question is who cares (2, Interesting)

sbraab (100929) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948772)

Did you look at the UI preview guide? Maybe it is just me, but it looks yet another attempt to change the UI for the sake of change. They have taken the concepts of menus, toolbars, dialog boxes and palettes and combined them in to one big tabbed blob that takes ups even more of the top of each window. Of course it is similar to, but in no way consistent with that annoying new interface they put on IE7. The only thing they have managed to keep consistent in windows is the need to press ^-alt-Del to login. They just don't get it.

One again: Trying to trick the customers. (3, Insightful)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948820)

I hope companies will see this for what it is: An attempt by Microsoft to do with a license trick what they are not able to accomplish with product quality.

There is a social breakdown happening at Microsoft. Bill Gates is, apparently, no longer interested. The company is becoming more and more unable to complete projects.

Microsoft never competed very well on technological merits, but now things are becoming worse. People think that Microsoft has been successful, but the company's success has always depended on tricking customers who don't have much technical knowledge. As customers become more technically knowledgeable, they realize more and more that Microsoft is adversarial.

We who read Slashdot can make a difference. We can explain the issues to everyone we know and meet.

--
Comedy and Tragedy of the Bush administration [futurepower.org]

Lipstick on a pig (2, Insightful)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948826)

Microsoft put a new UI on MS Office because Microsoft said that the users of MS Office could not find all of the features in the product. What Microsoft has not commented upon was whether the users wanted to find any more of the features besides the ones that they use.

I would venture to say that the overwhelming majority of MS Office users do not need to use, or even want to use, most of the features that are present in those bloated applications.

always could use windows UI? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16948858)

developers could always use the Windows API for GUI - that's the point of the platform, and getting developers to use it (on Windows) is the entirely how a "platform" is valuable. Users don't buy the platform, they buy the stuff that runs on it.

How is this different, except that maybe the ribbon is counted as part of the apps, and not the OS?

As usual, Slashdot doesnt get it. (0, Flamebait)

LibertineR (591918) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948874)

You can almost hear all the knee-jerking going on around here.

For all the things you can say about Microsoft, regardless of your perspective, you have to agree that what keeps Microsoft in business is the way they have treated developers.

Raise your hand (if you are used to being PAID for your code) if you have time to develop your own version of the ribbon within the scope of your next project?

Look, Microsoft has all this new shit coming out with Vista and Office 07, and those of us who see coding as a PROFIT center, instead of just something to do to earn our Geek Cred, will take this latest offering and run with it all the way to the bank.

You can say its all about lock-in, you can say that they are stifling innovation all you want. Someday, it would be cool for Slashdot to understand that there are thousands of developers who code for MONEY, not self-esteem, and dont care where their tools come from if those tools help get projects completed faster and better than without them.

If Microsoft can give me tools that insure that every project I do next year comes in on time and on budget, they can slap my momma for all I care.

"Developers, Developers, Developers" may be a running joke around here, and you may not be a fan of MSDN and the other tool sets, but if you code Windows solutions for pay, fuck you, I'm using them.

Time is money, bitches!

Re:As usual, Slashdot doesnt get it. (1)

gilgongo (57446) | more than 7 years ago | (#16949528)

Raise your hand (if you are used to being PAID for your code) if you have time to develop your own version of the ribbon within the scope of your next project?

Before you talk about knee-jerk reactions you might want to at least UNDERSTAND what MS are doing here. They are NOT giving you any CODE. They are simply allowing you to COPY their UI.

Go to the download page: http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/office/aa973809.a spx [microsoft.com]

See any code? Libraries? SDK?

Now do you still want to thank them so much?

Re:As usual, Slashdot doesnt get it. (0)

MartinJW (961693) | more than 7 years ago | (#16949972)

Microsoft might not personally be providing the libraries to facilitate this - but there are other 3rd party vendors who are - and Microsofts new license now legitimises these. Personally, as someone who does get paid to code, I am looking forward to implementing the ribbon in a future product.

Re:As usual, Slashdot doesnt get it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16949678)

Did you even read the article?

Buying a license from them gets you two things.

First, you get Microsoft's permission to use the Office 2007 style GUI without threat of being sued.

Second, you get guidelines on how to BUILD YOUR OWN ribbon interface. That's right, Microsoft don't give you any code. This isn't something you can drop in and go - you must build it yourself, or buy an implementation from someone else.

So basically, you're talking shit, and then insulting people too.

Re:As usual, Slashdot doesnt get it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16949690)

No, you don't get it. RTFA. Microsoft are not offering any code here. They are offering the "right" for people to do their own implementations of the Ribbon Bar, etc.

There is no such "right" they can offer.

They are trying to trap interested developers into following a 120-page style guide. That's all. Nothing to do with your bottom line unless you're idiotic enough to sign up.

You can buy a ribbon bar in from various commercial vendors without talking to Microsoft. That will help you. Nothing on MSDN will help you implement the latest Office UI - it never has, and it never will. MS don't like to make that easy and here they are proving it by throwing barriers up.

If you understood the argument you were making you'd be reliant on 3rd-party vendors for this stuff already. MSDN is a joke for modern glossy UI development.

Frankly... (1)

eno2001 (527078) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948910)

...I think OO.o could benefit from a better UI design rather than aping MS Office. The MS Office and OO.o UIs are too cluttered. I'd suggest something more collapsable and more sparingly reliant on just icons on the less used features. The other suggestion I'd make is to make the OO.o interface more "modal" in a way. As much as I hate 'vi' and it's modality, I think modes could be done right for Office apps. Again, you have all of the most common functionality available in the default mode with little or no space devoted to less popular features. Obviously this would require a study to rank the uasge of features. But there just aren't that many people who use "mail merge" on a daily basis unless they're in the business world. Maybe even having default "Home User" vs. "Business User" modes for OO.o would help. Just a few suggestions anyway. (Even though this is the wrong place for that)

Re:Frankly... (1)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 7 years ago | (#16949534)

I'd suggest something more collapsable and more sparingly reliant on just icons on the less used features. The other suggestion I'd make is to make the OO.o interface more "modal" in a way. As much as I hate 'vi' and it's modality, I think modes could be done right for Office apps. Again, you have all of the most common functionality available in the default mode with little or no space devoted to less popular features.

Congratulations, you just described Office 2007.

Re:Frankly... (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 7 years ago | (#16949668)

Ironically, it is exactly the kind of study you talk about that led Microsoft to produce this new UI. There will inevitably be resistance to change, but after a while I suspect the usability guys will win, because they have solid research behind them and users are fickle creatures.

That doesn't negate your main point about free software alternatives not just cloning MS UI, of course. Look at Firefox: innovative UI features not present in the established MS product, in an overall clean and usable interface, makes a product that is eating MS market share at a rate that must have them taking notice. Compare and contrast with OpenOffice.org, where the UI is basically a poor quality clone of the equivalent MS Office applications, and pretty much no-one uses it outside of a few geeks. Firefox's method is better.

Re:Frankly... (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 7 years ago | (#16949882)

That's doubtful. I've never known anyone that doesn't turn their Windows install to "classic mode" UI after about 5 seconds of files opening themselves just because you highlighted them.

MS history shows a long string of failed UI experiments.

Ever-increasing number of features (3, Insightful)

RareButSeriousSideEf (968810) | more than 7 years ago | (#16948974)

"Will traditional menus/toolbars hold up to an ever-increasing number of features, or will OO be forced to take on a new UI paradigm?"

How about turning that on it's head? "Will the paradigm of an ever-increasing number of features hold up to the reality of having to present them in a UI of some sort?"

I've been using office-style apps heavily since about Office 4, and I haven't seen many new features at all that I consider essential -- *especially* not ones that require adding UI elements to accommodate them. MS's own focus group studies show time and time again that 90% of Office features end up in the "rarely used" category anyway.

I use Office 2007 some, and I'm pretty neutral on the ribbon since I do most tasks via keyboard shortcut anyway. For my money (or lack thereof), let OOo keep its traditional menus & toolbars. Just make keyboard shortcuts consistent across an office suite, get the fundamental features right, minimize the bugs & make the memory & disk footprints as light as you can.

The Ribbon may be da new shiznit and whatnot, and by virtue of MS's market penetration may even end up being the "look" that all others are compared to. Even if that happens, though, I have a hard time seeing *feature bloat* being the driving factor behind what UI paradigm wins out.

The only thing OO needs to compete (1)

bealzabobs_youruncle (971430) | more than 7 years ago | (#16949044)

is slightly better performance, initial feedback on the ribbon has been almost universally negative and there is no reason for other devs to rush to mediocrity. This is truly nothing more than an attempt at viral marketing.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16949218)

Drink the kool-Aid and sign the document. Microsoft wants to get universal buy-in that the UI is proprietary and that they clearly own it. If you sign you give away rights. They also want your help in setting that up as a standard, but don't want to have to relinquish their rights to freeze you out should you get into an area that they find profitable. You see the problem with having something be a standard is that it is good for you, because your users like things that are the same everywhere they go (look at McDonalds success) but if you let everyone make things that are similar to yours like RFC Standards then you can't own them. Drat! Solution set up a Standard but get everyone to sign away their rights to it. Brilliant!

Pure FUD (1)

Nitage (1010087) | more than 7 years ago | (#16949564)

It isn't a license to use a library that implements their UI features - it's a license to implement such a library. They're trying to license something that they don't own...

ZOMG look at the INNOVATION (4, Insightful)

kimvette (919543) | more than 7 years ago | (#16949662)

I'm glad Microsoft is so innovative, because, you know, shaping a menu and toolbar differently is new, non-obvious, novel, and there is certainly no prior [adobe.com] art containing anything similar [adobe.com] , certainly not anything preceding it by a decade.

Given the obvious use of technology here and the subjectiveness of what may constitute a ribbon, and how broadly companies like Microsoft tend to paint their patents, I would contend that their "ribbon" is simply taking the Adobe Creative Suite's toolbar scheme that has been around for a decade and simply repainting it to fit in Microsoft Office components. Likewise, one can argue that since context-sensitive toolbars have been around for about 20 years, and buttons in those toolbars have optionally spawned menus when clicked for at least ten years, that there is NOTHING AT ALL new about a Microsoft "ribbon" aside from the artwork, which is covered by COPYRIGHT, not a patent.

just sign right here for your free ui... (1)

Sfing_ter (99478) | more than 7 years ago | (#16949866)

right here, in your own blood, on the dotted line. Did we mention the first male child clause?

Why isn't the ribbon UI part of the OS? (1)

bigdavex (155746) | more than 7 years ago | (#16950040)

The ribbon is some sort of widget, right? Why isn't it a part of windows?

Is This Anti-Competitive? (2, Insightful)

ewl1217 (922107) | more than 7 years ago | (#16950080)

This just doesn't sound right. Here we have a known monopoly, with strong control of the desktop operating system and office suite markets. Isn't it in the slightest bit anti-competitive for them to offer this free to anybody but their competitors? I'm no expert on the legal side of things, but this is the exact kind of thing that anti-trust laws are supposed to prevent.
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