So I don't use office software very much at all. Most of the time I do, it's for Powerpoint, because it's way better than the alternatives IMO. (Except for maybe keynote, but I'm not going to spend over a thousand dollars on presentation software, even if it does come with a free computer.
) I do think PPT 2007 is noticeably better than previous versions, but... I didn't really care about the UI much to be honest. It's benefits came from UI changes other than the ribbon and from some of the new objects and stylings. In terms of the ribbon, I thought it did some things better and some things worse than the old system; at least overall, I didn't feel any more or less productive than I did before, nor did I either get frustrated at it or think it was awesome.
I was in my dept's Windows lab using PowerPoint 2010 for the first time this past week, and I have to say... they made a number of pretty substantial UI improvements I thought in 2010. I definitely did
feel more productive in it than 2007, particularly because I was making an unusually animation-heavy presentation* that was pre-timed to a script (I'm giving a 5 minute conference talk and am using it as an excuse to play around with the format), and settings that used to be buried in a dialog are now also present in the ribbon. This drastically reduces the number of clicks I needed to change the timings.
It's nothing fundamental
to the ribbon that lets you do that... after all, it's conceptually similar to, say, font selection or size, which you can do from the toolbars in the non-ribbon UI. However, I do
think that 2010 has the best Powerpoint UI yet. And for reasons besides the ribbon, I also think it's huge leaps and bounds beyond Impress. (Well, at least the last time I evaluated, which was maybe 3 years ago. At that point, even PPT 2003 kicked the pants off of Impress, even to the point of spending the money for the student edition was pretty much a no-brainer considering how much I thought I'd use it. Ended up using it way less than I thought, but whatever. Still worth it, except that I later found out that I could install it on my work laptop for free.
(* Purposeful animations, BTW. These fall into three categories. First is to show processes and similar develop dynamically, which is usually done pretty well with parts that fade in/out and appear/disappear. Second is to draw attention to something, e.g. by changing its color or with the "pulse" animation. (Actually I think that may be new in 2010 too, and it seems like it's quite useful.) Third is to act as a smooth transition, usually to show that, e.g. "this part of this diagram" is the same thing as "this part of that diagram", which is done nicely by having "this part" move and/or zoom into place in the second diagram. I've still never seen a purpose to most of PPT's animations, like "fly in" and stuff.)