There are two big changes with Office 2007 that are fairly visible. One of those changes is the new file types: .xlsx, .docx, etc. The other change is to the interface. Office 2007 introduces the “Ribbon.” Overall, it serves the purpose of unifying the interface through the Office suite. This should make it easier to use one application and then switch to another and not have to go searching around for a similar function.
The problem, as you can see from above, is that the interface has changed to a tabs interface from the classic menu-based interface of older versions of Office. Personally, I like the new interface and find it more intuitive to navigate around, but I also use a lot of keyboard shortcuts for what I do on a daily basis. Plenty of users, however, are resistant to change and prefer not having to relearn a system.
The Ribbon is XML-based, which is supposed to make it easy to customize. Unfortunately that isn’t the case for the average user. You can add a plug-in that does make it much simpler. Simply download the Ribbon Customizer and, with Office applications closed, run through the setup. After that, you can find a button in the following location for the respective programs.
Word, Excel, Powerpoint:
View tab, Customize ribbon button
Add-ins tab, Customize ribbon button
You can use this program to customize the ribbon, but the most evident feature is creating a new tab with the classic interface. You can select to have the new tab at the far-left or the far-right.
After that, you’ll get a tab that looks a lot like Word 2003 and previous instances of Office.
If you want more customization, you can get the Professional edition at the website. The free Starter edition offers an awful lot though and it might just be enough to help users that are used to the old versions break the ice with Office 2007. Check the website for an easy matrix of what is offered in the Professional Edition and the Starter Edition.
RibbonCustomizer Starter Edition