Several Excel users have sent me messages this week to ask about the user interface for Excel 2010. They all wanted to know whether Excel will return to menus and custom toolbars, or offer a Classic Interface option.
The answer, unfortunately, is: No chance. Microsoft’s Excel team has said they never will go back to menus. And they won’t offer an optional Classic Interface, because two interfaces would be too much work to maintain.
Unfortunately, that’s not the end of the bad news about Excel’s user interface. The Excel design team has fallen deeply, passionately in love with icons. This figure illustrates the result so far.
When you want to paste something you’ve copied in Excel 2010, you’ll need to decipher icons like the ones at the bottom of this figure. Most Excel users would find the options in Excel 2007 much easier to understand.
If you hover your mouse pointer over each icon in the Excel 2010 Paste area, you’ll see the icon’s tooltip text. So until you memorize those icons, if you ever do, copy-and-paste will turn into a game of hide-and-seek.
This is a beta. Perhaps the Excel team will fall out of love with their icons before the real product ships.
But don’t bet on it.