Walt Mossberg

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Giving ‘Ribbon’ Its ‘Classic’ Look


I believe that the Microsoft Office 2007 “Ribbon” user interface is one of the great abominations in the history of personal computing. Are you aware of any workaround that can restore the “classic” interface that was used in prior versions?


Microsoft (MSFT) didn’t offer an option to replace the 2007 Ribbon interface–which is intended to group functions more logically and make them easier to find–with the classic menus and toolbars. However, a number of third-party companies offer add-in programs that do so. You can find these by simply doing a Google (GOOG) search for “Office classic menu.” I haven’t tested these, so I can’t recommend any particular one. Note also that, in the newer Office 2010, Microsoft has introduced the ability to customize the Ribbon, so your favorite commands are clustered in your own personalized tabs. More information on this is at: http://bit.ly/aTS05D.


A low-tech answer to a reader’s question on the AT&T MicroCell tower.


Is there any way to turn the AT&T MicroCell on and off so that I don’t have a mini cell tower constantly blasting radio waves around the house?


Sure. You can simply unplug it, by pulling the power adapter out of the back. But be aware that it won’t restart instantly when you plug it back in. It takes much longer for the MicroCell to re-establish its network and GPS connections than it takes for a standard Internet router to come back to life after being turned off.


I am buying a new laptop primarily to send email and to surf the Internet. Are there any worthy alternatives to Outlook so I don’t have to spend a lot for Outlook or a bunch of Microsoft Office programs I won’t need or use?


There are some decent free alternatives. One, from Microsoft itself, is called Windows Live Mail, and can be downloaded free at http://bit.ly/baYTM3. Another, also free, is Mozilla Thunderbird, at http://bit.ly/2zxpYm. Or you could just use free Web-based email programs, like Gmail, Yahoo Mail, or Hotmail.

Write to Walter S. Mossberg at walt.mossberg@wsj.com

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