My recent post on OpenOffice & MS Fluent UI got me to thinking about User Interfaces again, and specifically - the Fluent UI used in Office 2007

In an interview with the UI team we are told that the Ribbon was developed as a replacement for the ubiquitous toolbar, a UI concept that has been around for decades and is almost universally understood.

Recently, while investigating Microsoft’s royalty-free licensing program to use it in a project, I realised something - the licensing program is pointless.

Let’s take the example of an application that doesn’t edit a document, maybe a data entry tool or even an email client. In these types of applications, a Ribbon menu would remain fairly static (I imagine there would be very few context-sensitive tabs), and as far as I can imagine - it would just end up being a static… toolbar.

I’ve done a few mockups of an example application and will put them up here, but I’m really having trouble seeing how the Ribbon is useful outside document editing applications.

For anyone sitting there wondering how this makes the licensing program pointless, you’re only allowed to use the Fluent UI if your application doesn’t replicate MS Office functionality or compete with it - which pretty much rules out its useful uses.