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May 29, 2017

Make Word Look Like Word Again

Filed under: Main — Tags: — admin @ 12:01 am

Recently, a reader asked me how to make Microsoft Word 2010 look like her beloved Word 2003. The answer is definitive: You can’t.

I fully understand the frustration: In the mid-aughts, Microsoft released Office 2007. It offered a new interface — a portent of future versions of Windows, in fact — The Ribbon.

Gone were the familiar pull-down menus and toolbars of Word, features that had existed since Word version 6. Replacing it was the Ribbon, with its tabs, groups, and buttons. It was delightfully confusing and no one liked it, mostly because adult humans are averse to change.

A lot of users refused to update. If I didn’t have to write a book on Word 2007, I would have joined them. Then came Word 2010, Word 2013, and now the current version is Word 2016, though if you have an Office 365 subscription, you’ve seen a few updates since then. Each new version hones the Ribbon, so it’s not going away.

Eventually, like my reader, everyone who stubbornly stuck with an older version of Word must make the transition. Even the file format has changed, so gradually people do surrender their old software and join the rest of us.

Along the way, the question must pop into a user’s head: How can I make the new version of Word look like the familiar old one? It’s a great question, and one that reveals a better understanding of software than most people have. That’s because a lot of folks know that Word can be customized.

Indeed, the Ribbon interface is 100% changeable. You can dismiss the standard tabs and build your own tabs to replace them. The problem is that you can’t really reconstruct what was once the older Word’s menu bar and toolbars. If you attempt to do so, you eventually end up with the existing Ribbon interface, which was the point of the thing in the first place.

Change is tough. Eventually, I believe users appreciate the Ribbon interface as better and faster than the old menu bar/toolbar approach. Even I saw how ugly the old method was in my books, where I mentioned how Microsoft would shuffle around the commands and change things randomly as you used the program. Word 95 was notoriously awful in that respect.

The good news moving forward is that, thanks to consistency, the Ribbon interface grows on you. Because it’s now implemented in the Windows File Explorer as well as Paint and other common Windows programs, it becomes comfortable. The consistency is welcome. It’s just getting over that initial shock that’s disrupting.

2 Comments

  1. The Ribbon on thinking about it is not that far some Apple stuff I think, it probably from a hold over from some Apple programmers who were lured to the Dark Side? Microsharft went from being the leader to a follow the leader Crapple? Were they ever not the leader? Today I had birthday celebrations with a load of geeky friends one of topics Apple, Over Priced, Long life NO! ( a friends Mac Book blew up on him and caused a late update of his students test scores, he is a teacher!), Poor power supplies and on. I think it has tried to be all thing to all people and missed hugely, my guess is they are going to drop Word & Office as a product anf go subscription…

    Comment by glennp — May 29, 2017 @ 4:14 pm

  2. Apple once made outstanding stuff, and yes it was quite expensive. But it was innovative and it worked.

    I’ve read that Microsoft had only two original products (Word and the Mouse), and the rest are copies or direct ripoffs.

    Now it’s like the companies have switched. Microsoft’s Surface is pretty cool, and their new Surface desktop with the dial-thing is sought-after by a professional graphics crows that feels abandoned by Apple.

    As a long-time Mac user, I’m rather disappointed with my current iMac. It’s a good machine, though it’s not as solid as previous models. Further, Apple keeps adding crap to the OS to justify annual updates. So the OS’s stability has suffered. For example, I have to reset my Mac every so often to clean out the gunk. That was rarely the case years ago.

    But I concur with your sentiment: When Word and Office and Windows go subscription based, Linux will boom in popularity. Even many small businesses must weigh the cost of an annual subscription against adequate and free alternatives. It will be another computer revolution.

    Comment by admin — May 29, 2017 @ 4:32 pm

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