Readers talk back to Windows Secrets


As noted in this week’s Introduction, Windows Secrets is launching a Letters column — reader e-mails that we think are especially interesting. Leading off this new column is a critical view of Microsoft’s Office Ribbon interface, discussed in a Woody Leonhard article.

Taking Microsoft to task for the Ribbon

Re: Woody Leonhard’s Feb. 9 Top Story, “How to change Microsoft’s %$#@! Ribbon”

► The Ribbon is inefficient, and it’s designed for rank beginners or children. It takes up too much space, it’s visually hard to navigate(requiring scanning of the full width of the screen to find anything). It’s inconsistent internally and depends on remembering masses of icons — often with only slight differences (the text is too hard to read). The Ribbon does not allow easy keyboard use for those of us who have work to do, and ultimately it’s easily outgrown by anyone.

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Why can’t the option of simple menus always be provided? Because that would be an admission of defeat [by Microsoft]. We can kill Clippy (and did, rapidly). By all means cater to the less able, but all I would ask is that, please, do the rest of us a favor! [The Ribbon] is not a step in the right direction except as training wheels — discarded with pleasure at the first opportunity.     —Brian W. Darvell

► Woody mentions UBit Software’s free-for-personal-use menu software. I have a totally free-for-everyone classic Ribbon for Word and Excel on my site, Navigator Utilities.     —Mark Robinson

Getting to basics and pleasing a reader

Re: Lincoln Spector’s Feb. 9 Best Software, “Getting to basics: straight and simple text” (paid content)

► I just want you to know that I had let my WS subscription lapse, but I resubscribed so that I could read the full text of Lincoln Spector’s “Getting to basics: straight and simple text.” Thanks!     —Jonathon English

The right size for a Windows partition

Re: Lincoln Spector’s Jan. 26 story, “Hard-drive partitioning gives better protection” (paid content)

► First off, let me say that this is a great article! It’s just the kind of info I look for.

My only beef is with one sentence, concerning how small you can make the C: partition. I think 82MB is off by a few orders of magnitude. The problem is that just the Windows directory of a normal XP install (with all the updates) sucks up over 4GB. So maybe that figure should be 8.2GB for Windows XP?

Now, for my Windows 7 (x64), it’s quite a bit more. My winsxs is only 7.1GB, and the whole directory is almost 19GB. Let’s also not forget to save room for pagefile.sys and hiberfil.sys. On my system, they constitute over 7GB.

With just these things in mind, I think I’d want my minimum C: partition to be about 40GB to cover any additions.     — Robert Strand

Feedback welcome: Have a question or comment about this story? Post your thoughts, praise, or constructive criticisms in the WS Columns forum.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2012-02-16:

Kathleen Atkins

About Kathleen Atkins

Kathleen Atkins is the Windows Secrets associate editor. She's also a freelance writer, editor, and photographer. Prior to joining Windows Secrets, she worked at Microsoft Press.