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OpenOffice.org and the 'Ribbons' Interface Brouhaha

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OOo

Two weeks ago Project Renaissance unveiled its first prototype. The prototype resembled the Ribbon interface first introduced in Microsoft Office 2007, and the denunciations came so fast that few bothered to check the facts, or to give the idea any serious consideration.

542 people responded to the unveiling, many of them hostile to the very idea of Ribbons in OpenOffice.org (OOo). "Why is OOo aping Office 2007's 'Ribbon' design?" The first commenter asked, and the second, "This would be a killer feature for not using OpenOffice.org."

Some posters tried to discuss the prototype and the design decisions behind it, but similar comments reoccurred like a chorus. OpenOffice.org was simply imitating MS Office, some said. Others said that the application was oversimplifying, and catering too much to new users. The reaction spread quickly, as Internet memes do, and, before long, the negative comments found their way into the media, and sites were reporting as a given that OpenOffice.org would be switching to a Ribbon interface.

In the middle of the uproar, almost everybody managed to overlook one tiny detail: It wasn't necessarily happening.

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