I was never brave enough to put this in writing but finally someone else did.
In Jerry Pournelle's Computing At Chaos Manor: The Mailbag a reader wrote:
Also, the ribbon occupies some of the most valuable real estate on the modern display: vertical space. On my laptop I have a modern wide aspect display. MS Word XP displays templates, formats and similar helpful stuff off to the right, leaving me with a relatively tall text space. A ribbon would be disastrous. It's merely annoying on my 4x3 display, but I keep it minimized. Needless to say, despite having access to cheap copies of Office 2007 (two more students in our household), I will be maintaining our Office XP versions.Yeah. What he said!
It's very interesting to watch a huge company make such a bone-headed decision on its flagship product. At the very least, you'd think there would be a way to run the ribbon vertically, so that it could be a sidebar, like the bookmark and history sidebars we see in some browsers. Heck, even my ancient copy of Paint Shop Pro 7 allows for vertical toolbars. And MS's own Vista developers allow for a sidebar display, with pretty widgets. They get the wide aspect business. You would think that watching Firefox get ready to destroy its classic UI to reduce the browser's vertical acreage would be a clue to avoid filling up vertical space.
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