Ben Langhinrichs

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Genii Weblog

Is Microsoft's new ribbon UI copied from eSuite's UI?

Wed 29 Nov 2006, 11:57 AM

by Ben Langhinrichs
In a comment on Bob Sutor's post about Microsoft's proposed restrictions on the use of their new ribbon UI in Office 2007, Stephen Hood raises an interesting point.  He points to some pages from the Redbook on eSuite, and in particular pages 109 and 111 of the redbook (which show up on pages 125 and 127 of the PDF).  A couple of the images should give the idea:

Figure 103 from Redbook page 109

Figure 107 from the Redbook page 111

Now, compare this to Microsoft Word 2007, and see if Microsoft has really invented such a new concept that they should be able to prevent other office suites from using the look and feel:

Partial screenprint from MS Office 2007 beta

Copyright © 2006 Genii Software Ltd.

What has been said:

533.1. Stephen Hood
(11/29/2006 10:16 AM)

Ben, I added a post on Bob's site to acknowledge the original source that led me down that path.

533.2. CW
(11/29/2006 01:23 PM)

lol - one of our PC guys just said: "If they are saying MS copied someone else honestly I dont see it. They both say "font" my goodness imagine that!" and "dont see any similarities."

533.3. Nathan T. Freeman
(11/29/2006 04:13 PM)

That's awesome! I don't think it's any secret that I'm a big fanboy of the Ribbon interface. I had no idea that anyone had done something like it before.

I DO think that MS isn't trying to claim copyright on the interface as such (after all, the Quattro Pro vs. 1-2-3 battle defined that legal ground LONG ago), but their technique for its implementation. They're doing some kind of XML descriptor file plus graphics resources in multiple scales. I think that's the part they're talking about other devs implementing.

Microsoft of all people should know how little success they'd have in trying to prevent other developers from implementing graphical menus.

533.4. Nathan T. Freeman
(11/29/2006 04:15 PM)

Well, I stand corrected... it looks like they ARE trying to license the look and feel.

Good luck with that one, fellas.

You'd think Ray would be telling them that this crap doesn't work by now.

533.5. Carl Tyler
(11/29/2006 05:22 PM)

Man you're copying my blog from over a year ago :-D

I also joked about the new Workplace UI...

I don't mind though. It's good that others point out that Microsoft's new stuff really isn't that new.

533.6. Stephen Hood
(11/30/2006 10:43 AM)

Carl I'm glad you don't mind because I'm planning to own the rights to your original observation.

I'm just finishing up the license that will restrict you from talking about it or taking credit for it. Of course if you don't want to run afoul of my lawyers it would be in your best interest to get pre-approval of all your future postings in advance. Just to be safe. I have to make sure my shareholders (ie. family) get a fair return on the hundreds of seconds I've invested in thinking about this.

However, if I deem that your thoughts don't conflict with my best interests then I'll let you talk about the thoughts I copied from you. Let's be friends.

Best Regards :)

533.7. Ian Randall
(30/11/2006 02:35 PM)

I am also a fan of the Ribbon interface.

My only objection is of Microsoft trying to restrict the look and feel being copied by competing applications.

Perhaps IBM should sue Microsoft to force them to remove this restriction on their licence based on their dubious claims to invention of the ribbon concept.

533.8. Carl
(12/01/2006 04:10 AM)

Ha ha you threaten me with Laywers and still want to be friends? OK no problem :-)

Microsoft should know, you can't copyright an interface.

Applet lost to Microsoft in the Windows interface case.

Lotus lost to Borland in the 1-2-3 Interface case.

It does feel like a fear tactic, plus there's too much prior art.

533.9. F. Hertzum
(01-12-2006 18:22)

There is absolutely nothing new about this -- it's just tabs disguised as menus.

I've used a similar interface in an app I made, but decided that it was useless and dumped it.

533.10. Wesley Parish
(12/03/2006 01:07 AM)

Looks like I won't need to license it from Microsoft after all - all I need to say is I ripped it off the IBM Lotus eSuite, just like Microsoft!

533.11. Sole42
(02/02/2012 09:45 AM)

Does anyone have a copy of eSuite? It would be good to see it in action and compare it to MSO.

Btw, Microsoft is infringing my patent on new types of faggotry.