how hard is it to hack minor rearrangements into Windows and MS Office user interface?

suppose the geniuses in charge of Microsoft’s UI design screw up menu structure and general usability to the point that people revolt demanding the good old Windows XP era feel. If that happens, how hard would it be for 3rd party hacks to turn back the clock? E.g. if I want my Microsoft Word to have the usual File, Edit etc menus instead of whatever the toolbar structure imposed by the latest Office version, how hard would it be to accomplish that? Let’s say can the Word executable be hacked to superimpose an ActiveX control with the old menus and so on (which would presumably communicate with the main program via the usual VBA api) onto the upper section of the Word window?

Sure. It already is done by lots of people. Some of the examples you gave are available already. A lot of people confuse the operating system itself with its user interface but the user interface is just one part of it that the user sees. The rest of the stuff is what runs behind the computer behind the scenes. You can tweak the user interface with tools for smaller effects or completely replace it without changing the other parts of the operating system. Linux is an open source operating system and has loads of user interfaces available from just raw command line to fancy graphical desktops.

Is this something you want to do or just theoretical? There are tools and replacements available for different purposes. Developing a new one yourself is fairly difficult but modifying or ‘skinning’ an existing one can be easy with the right tools.


2003 classic menues instead of 2007/2010 Ribbon Interface?

Or you could switch to OpenOffice, which is (so far) retaining the good old well-known user interface. And even if they too switch someday, their open source structure means that someone will probably release a add-on that retains the old user interface. That’s much harder to do in Microsoft’s software, because the source is concealed.

Presumably he wants to actually do something with his different interface, not putter around with a broken joke used by ideologues.

it’d be far easier to just keep using XP and Office 2003, or whatever versions you feel you need to cling to.

Username+post combination win!

If you choose this option, it becomes progressively harder to interface with other bits of the world that haven’t clung to it, as well as also getting harder to find support solutions, etc.

In a corporate environment, sticking with legacy software means forcing staff to invest in skills that are irrelevant in the employment marketplace - this is bad for the staff, but ultimately also bad for business, because it becomes harder to recruit.

well, it’s kind of a “pick your poison” thing then, isn’t it? seems like it would be far better to invest just a little time up front getting accustomed to the new UI instead of taking one look at it, insisting that you “can’t figure it out,” then wasting a bunch of time trying dodgy hacks.

Yes. Unless you can muster the support to divert the course of UI design, you have to go with it, or be left behind.

I’ve been using Office 2007 for two and a half years now, and I still despise the ribbon interface, but it’s not going away yet (something else will replace it one day, I expect, but we’ll all hate that change too), so I just have to grit my teeth and get on with it.

I use it at home because it’s free and it handles the types of things I need to do with an office product. I’m not an ideologue, it’s just the logical choice for my situation.