UbitMenu: use the Office 2003 interface in Office 2007

UbitMenu is a free add-on for MS Office 2007 that provides the option to use an MS Office 2003-style interface alongside Office 2007’s “Ribbons” style interface.

It is installed as an additional menu in Office 2007 applications (Excel, Word, and PowerPoint), allowing for switching back and forth at will between the older and newer style interfaces.

One of the most frequent reactions that I’ve heard when people (friends/colleagues at work) upgrade from MS Office 2003 to MS Office 2007 is “why in the world did they change the interface?”.

Other comments go something like this: “I knew the old interface like the back of my hand; I’ve been using the old interface for years; why did they have to change it?; why am I being forced to embark on a whole new learning curve?”.

And so on. I’ve seen many instances where people revert back to Office 2003 partially because of this, or otherwise reinstall Office 2003 in conjunction with Office 2007 and only use the latter when they absolutely have to.

If this describes you then you will be happy to learn that UbitMenu provides the interface of the old Office 2003 interface even when using Office 2007. Here are more notes this program:

  • How it works: once installed, UbitMenu will add a tab entitled “Menu” to the Office 2007 ribbons; clicking on this will display the emulated Office 2003 interface. You can switch back and forth to any of the Office 2007 tabs at any time if you need to.
  • Scope: emulates the classic menu of the following Office 2003 applications: Excel, Word and PowerPoint. Also emulates Excel 2003 keyboard shortcuts and toolbars.
  • Omitted functions: UbitMenu, if I understand correctly, brings back some functions which are omitted in Office 2007 but not all (in some instances the functionality is gone completely).
  • Language: although the developer’s site is in German, there is an English language version available (as well as a handful of other languages).
  • Uninstallation: uninstall from the add/remove programs Control Panel just as you would any other program.

The verdict: this program does a terrific job at approximating
the MS Office 2003 interface. If you need to use Office 2007 but miss the interface of old Office this program is exactly what you’re looking for. I know that in many situations (such as corporate settings) the use of the newer version of office is pretty much mandatory, and those users will be happy to find that they can have the best of both worlds (although note that UbitMenu is free for use in a non-commercial environment only, and the corporate version is paid).

Version Tested: 01-04

Compatibility: any system that runs Office 2007.

Go to the download page (choose the appropriate language installer; approx 360K). Also see the program page (in German) or the Google-translated English version.


 
 
 
Samer Kurdi

Samer Kurdi

Has been reviewing software since 2006 when he started Freewaregenius.com
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  • Tima

    Long ago refused to use any of Micro$oft products, free SoftMaker Office 2006 is enough for my dayly needs.

  • http://www.affilinator.de Frank

    This sounds extremly cool!
    Do you know it is also simple to uninstall and if it supports also non english languages ?

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  • http://lazarus.carbonize.co.uk Carbonize

    I’ll stick with Open Office.

  • holtcg

    Just goes to show if you force people to use a cumbersome, poorly designed interface for long enough, they will claim it’s better when it actually gets fixed. I work with people who use the Win 98 style start menu, no quicklaunch and have to close 17 windows to get to My Documents. Brilliant program for these types, since it’s in a tab, it’s a bit like “training wheels” for Office 07. Long live the ribbon! Death to Clippit! (oh, nevermind, he’s already long dead) :)

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  • http://www.tazoa.ie Francois

    Embrace the change and discover all the amazing new features which are available in the new menus.

    It is worth attending a training course that will take you through the main “Office 2007 differences and new features” as that will make you more productive.

    Besides, the new user interface is not going to go away any time soon!

    Clever little tool, though!

  • Tony Karakashian

    While I wouldn’t want to denigrate anyone’s abilities, I think the folks who revert back to 2003 are really losing out on what is a quantum paradigm jump forward in interface development. I wasn’t that fond of the ribbon when I first switched myself, but it didn’t take that long to get used to (it’s really not all that different than the menu systems) and now I find I regularly use features I hadn’t known existed prior to 2007.

    That being said, I think it’s silly for companies to convert to the new version without training their employees on the differences. But, seeing as most companies regularly do very silly things.. :)

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  • http://neverguessrangefinders.com/ Old Man Dotes

    Those who have experienced the “Office button stops working” bug will embrace this nifty addon. Personally, I wouldn’t have MS Office on any of my personal systems if they paid me to install it. I prefer applications which embrace the establish open standards and aim to please the customer, instead of the Accounting Department and MS stockholders by releasing a “new” and expensive package every couple of years, that deliberately breaks the established standards for the primary purpose of selling old wine in new bottles.

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  • djp

    FWIW, this isn’t the only alternative. There’s a shareware add-in from AddinTools that places all of the 2007 functions in menu format ala 2003. It’s not free but it is very complete

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  • Tekzel

    Regarding the comments about the old office menu system being broken, how? It worked. The new ribbon nastiness is what I consider broken, and refuse to use it. I want my menu options to always be in the same place, none of this moving around crap. I will stick to OpenOffice, thanks. Their menus don’t change constantly, and I know where to find stuff.

  • http://www.hacksomnia.com macobex

    This is a good software to assist newbie users of MS 2007. Many people find it hard to use MS 2007, even those people who used to work with Microsoft Office, because of the fact that the interface is really different compare to the previous versions. So, I think this is a good aid for new users or average users of MS 2007. Thanks ,

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  • http://www.404techsupport.com shrapnel09

    RibbonCustomizer is another alternative that offers this functionality. It’s pretty straight-forward, but it also allows you to customize a ribbon along with having the classic menu.

    http://www.404techsupport.com/2008/07/11/free-office-2007-ribbon-customizer/

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  • wyliecoyoteuk

    This is a great tool!

    The new interface is extremely unpopular.
    It may not be going away soon, but it is slowing adoption of office 2007, plus the productivity gains are largely imaginary.
    Some operations are unecessarily complex- inserting an image from a scanner or camera for example, used to take 3 or 4 clicks, and now is hidden in the clip organiser tool, and makes what was a simple task long winded.
    Sadly it does not appear in the menus.

  • Alex

    I would prefer transferring outlook from office 2003 in office 2007 instead of the interface, because I really miss my lookout :(, microsoft why does lookout not work with outlook 2007 why???????????????????????????????

  • danny

    @alex:
    check this: http://www.lookeen.com

    my personal “follower” of lookout, hope this tool will satisfy your miss of lookout :) (by the way, this tool is much better than lookout, try it)

  • BlinkingLED

    The high demand for plugins of this type shows why Windows is so successful… Their design and programming is flawed beyond repair and when they actually try to fix things (office 2007 is not perfect, but still way better than 2003 and XP) people complain. Please, Windows-users revert from the habit. Perhaps you will realize that you have lived to many years, entangled in the MS-jungle, feeding the MS-monkey bananas, thinking he will help you out… Why should he? you keep feeding him.
    Go with opensource software! It’s the only way to get good software..

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  • samaa

    thanks

  • Carl

    Why does Ubit Menu misbehave with Excel? Every time I open Excel, I get “cannot open file” and Wrong format file” messages about the “.xlam” file. This has persisted even after uninstalling UbitMenu!

  • http://www.ubit.ch UBitRep

    Carl, this has nothing to do with UBitMenu. There are hundredthousands of happy users out there. You must have some other AddIn installed that misbehaves. Please contact us directly and we will try to help.

  • sianz

    dudes… when you change the keyboard short cuts and menu options, it *IS* bad form, no matter how you are going to slice it.

    I don’t need the UI “fixed” because, using a word processor is not supposed to be a time consuming task. I have REAL work to do other than figuring out what is the 2007 keys of “ALT-V, N, enter” in 2003.

    Its just like changing the meaning of CTRL-C, CTRL-X and CTRL-V every 4 versions of an application. See how you would like it if on the next version you hit CTRL-Z and it saves and exit a document.

    Microsoft R&D and fan boys are generally very supportive of intrusive changes. I for one, will not take BS reasons like interface improvements w/o providing backward compatibility in interfaces.

    If you got hours in your life to waste to learn a new proprietory interface, go ahead. I rather type with notepad instead.

  • valentin

    Hi, I’m using UbitMenus and I love it but… How could I make it to appear immediately after launching an Office application, instead of having to click the menu tab every time… ? Is there any trick to do it? Thanks,
    Valentin

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  • ge0050

    The office 2003 ribbon should have been included standard in office 2007, to minimize retraining costs. These are typically greater than the cost of the software.

    MS has done this quite often recently. They have forgotten what made them popular. Ensuring that each release was upwardly compatible, for at least 2 generations.

    The ribbon itself is a great idea for those that don’t know office well. If you are a power user, there is a problem because the ribbon is static. It should adapt itself dynamically to prioritize the most frequently used commands. Also, it uses a lot of real-estate on the screen for what it does, as compared to old style menus.

  • jaysee

    Wow… this is so great… I feel like I just got back to my home town after being lost for a month !!

  • sven

    Free add-in for Word 2007 to show Office 2003 style menus and toolbars on the Office 2007 ribbon:
    http://office.grifir.com

  • Kaycee

    Love it! Thanks! I was going crazy with MS 2007.

  • Reynold Lubin

    c’est bon de publier les logiciel importants

  • Olivier

    At first glance a very good job. Hope it’s reliable.

  • Joe Kim

    Thanks, I don’t like the Ribbon interface, but the Classic Menu for Office is better than ubitmenu to bring back the Office 2003 menu style in Office 2007/2010, It includes Classic Menu for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Publisher, Access, InfoPath, Project and Visio.

    By the way, the Classic Menu for Home and Student is free for private use, it includes Classic Menu for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. I love it.

    You can find the software from http://www.addintools.com/index.html

  • locki

    Guys, I have no idea why you keep on talking about backwords compatibilty issues with the interface. In our company, we are just deploying the MS OFiice 2007 and I already have it installed to check compatibility with some other softwares we use.

    The first thing I needed after downloading a report into excel was to change format of some numbers using “text to columns” function. So I started typing as I was used to in 2003 and voila, littel window jumped out saying “Office 2003 access key ALT, D, Continue typing the office 2003 menu key sequence…” and it worked without a hitch. So if you are used to using menu keys, you have no problem. If you always used manual navigation in the menus, well, I’d say it is time to learn something new.

    Personally, I only use shortcuts for functions that are more then 2 clicks away and I can say that I was used to the new interface within a day without major issue. I would say it takes more time to get used to the new functionalities (like enhanced conditional formating, changed system of pivot tables, etc) than the new interface.

  • Mike

    If it ain’t broke, break it! That seems to be the mantra of the computer industry today. The old toolbars were so cool. I could draw my own icons for special functions I used often. UBitMenu is okay but how do you customize it? I work in Office 2003 and will continue to do so indefinitely.

  • Kellytang

    I have used UBit Menu for a period, but I turned to Classic Menu for Office 2007 which is released by Addintools.com at last.

    I need to change my Office 2007 interface language between Japanese and English frequently as a result of work requirement. However, UBit Menu does not support two languages at the same time. The Japanese setup.exe does not support English, and the English setup.exe does not support Japanese.
    But the Classic Menu for Office 2007 does well! No matter when and how I changed the Office 2007 interface language, the drop down menus and toolbar are shown in the same language of my Office 2007 language. I do not need to download another setup.exe packages at all. What’s more, those drop down menus and toolbars are valid in Outlook 2007 and Access 2007 too.
    Classic Menu for Office 2007 may be better choice.

  • James

    I am getting an error message every time I try to open Excel. It seems to have something to do with Ubitmenu. The error is Excel cannot open the file ~$ubitmenu04_UK.xlam because the file format or extension is not valid.

    I’ve tried everything I can find online and don’t see anything in my Office Startup Folders that would seem to launch this.

    Anyone have any suggestions?

  • WmMitchell

    The ribbon is a joke. My customized toolbars for over a decade gave me one-button access to everything I needed; and where there wasn’t a feature aready in the office toolbar innately, a quickly written macro and a quickly drawn up icon gave it to me within a handful of minutes, again giving a one-mouse-click to that new button. I rarely used the menus. But the ludicrous ribbon is extremely slow, even with editing the the severely limited QATs!

    Getting the old interfaces back doesn’t grant me that speed, but having the menus back is better than the ribbon as they’re better grouped together and prevent the strain that the ribbon produces as related commands aren’t under the same menu anymore often (i.e., copy>paste). So back to not only clicking a lot like the early days of Office use but now, on top of that, clicking across the ribbon and back multiple times.

    So at least getting back the old interface till I learn how to recreate my own toolbars to suppress the ribbon is the way I need to go. But UbitMenu doesn’t work out-of-the-box like Kierans freeware one does for Excel. I need to enable it each time I start up Word. Anyone know how to get around that?