Firefox tidies up with Office 2007's Ribbon

The controversial Ribbon interface of Office 2007 will be employed in the new builds on Firefox, Mozilla has confirmed

Stuart Turton
23 Sep 2009

Mozilla has announced that it plans to bring Office 2007's Ribbon interface to Firefox, as it looks to tidy up the cluttered browser.

"Starting with Vista, and continuing with Windows 7, the menu bar is going away," notes Mozilla in its plans for revamping the Firefox user interface. "[It will] be replaced with things like the Windows Explorer contextual strip, or the Office Ribbon, [which is] now in Paint and WordPad, too."

The change will bring Windows' Aero Glass effects to the browser, and also free up space for the actual page window - making it more suitable for people using netbooks with smaller screens.

This direction is at the team proposal stage, to be approved by drivers and subject for constructive community feedback

"Firefox feels dated and behind on Windows. Issues include the absence of Glass, anemic purple toolbar color on Vista, tall and bulky UI footprint, element overload, inconsistent toolbar icon usage/style, lack of a tactile look and feel and perhaps too great of a divergence between the look on XP and Vista/7," the company writes in its latest development notes.

Mozilla expects the change to come into effect with Firefox 3.7, a minor update to the browser that's slated to ship in March 2010. Though it will be turned on by default for Windows 7 and Vista users, they will be able to toggle between the old and new interface by holding the Alt key.

However, it admits there's still time for the design changes to be derailed by the community. "This direction is at the team proposal stage, to be approved by drivers and subject for constructive community feedback," the company says.

UPDATE: Mozilla says it is not adopting the Ribbon interface. The development notes refer to how applications in Windows have begun dropping the menu bars in favour of interfaces such as the Ribbon - however, it is not the company's intention to bring this to Firefox. Instead, it will concentrate on hiding the menu bar behind tabs, and introducing effects such as transparency.

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