One of the major design goals for Microsoft Office 2007 was making features easier to discover. A study had shown that about 90% of the feature requests for Microsoft Office were for features already in the product. People just didn’t know what was already there.
A major part of Microsoft’s response was the “ribbon” interface. More controls are on display rather than being hidden behind a deep hierarchy of menus. According to Katherine Murray, the user interface changes achieved their goal.
Data is showing that the redesign of Office really did reach this goal — Word 2007 and Excel 2007 users are now using four times as many features as they used in previous versions, and for PowerPoint, the increase in feature use is a factor of five.
The quote above was taken from First Look: Microsoft Office 2010. I’d like to see more details, but the book is a sales brochure and not a statistical report. Still, if you take these figures at face value, it seems the ribbon and other user interface changes were very successful.
Many pundits hate the ribbon. But most of the 500 million people who use Microsoft Office are not pundits.