Forget the arms race, in software we get the great interface race (via AppleInsider):

The Ribbon feature has proven controversial, with Microsoft's supporters hailing it as the future of user interfaces, and its critics arguing that the move is simply an arbitrary change intended to derail any familiarity with (and therefore potential for competition from) its free OpenOffice doppelg�nger. [emph mine]


I wonder how accurate that is. I've been teaching composition for a while, and did notice that Word on the university computers sports a much different interface than the 2000, 2004, and 98 [sic] that I'm using myself. It's a little disorienting, but not a big switch once you've used it for a while. And most of the keyboard shortcuts I've learned (Alt-F-A for Save As) still seem to work.

So I wonder how much of this new interface is to ensure Word looks like it isn't OpenOffice. That is, I seriously doubt the interface of OpenOffice is going to make the same jump; that seems, from an engineering point of view, at least, like a complete misuse of resources.

AppleInsider's report of a conspiracy theory around the ribbon makes some sense if there's an easy mental upgrade from older versions of Word or OpenOffice users to the new Word, but not the other way around. Can that be done? Is Microsoft that clever, really?

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