Walt Mossberg an often critical voice about Microsoft products has published his review of the ribbon in the Wall Street Journal.


There is also a video of his recap http://online.wsj.com/public/page/8_0004.html.

He didn't cover anything about Access but had some nice things to say about Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Here are a few interesting quotes:

"when Microsoft makes significant changes to Office, it's a big deal. And the latest version of the software suite, called Office 2007, due out Jan. 30, is a radical revision, the most dramatic overhaul in a decade or more." 

"After months of working with the Ribbon and other new features of Office, I believe they are an improvement. They replace years of confusing accretions with a logical layout of commands and functions. They add easy and elegant new options for making documents look good. And they make it much simpler to find many of the 1,500 commands that Office offers, but had buried in the past."

"So, Microsoft deserves credit for being bold and creative in designing Office 2007. It has taken a good product and made it better and fresher."

"But there is a big downside to this gutsy redesign: It requires a steep learning curve that many people might rather avoid. In my own tests, I was cursing the program for weeks because I couldn't find familiar functions and commands, even though Microsoft provides lots of help and guidance."

"If you'd like to get more out of Office, especially in the area of how your documents look, Office 2007 is a big step forward, and worth the steep learning curve it imposes. If you're happy with Office now, or you mostly create plain documents where formatting and design aren't high priorities, it may not be worth the effort to buy and learn the new version."