Like it or loathe it, if you're a Windows user, the Ribbon is in your future. That was made clear recently when it was revealed that Microsoft will be "ribbonizing" Vista as an optional update for people. There may be holdouts, but one way or another, Microsoft is looking to move you to the Ribbon.
The Ribbon first made its appearance in Office 2007, and received a good deal of public push-back, but not enough to deter Microsoft from deciding that the Ribbon was the future. I'm a big fan of the Ribbon, and think that it makes Office far easier to use, without getting in the way of your work. It exposes a much deeper level of features so that all users, not just those who devote themselves to learning an application, can use far more of the power of Office.
The Ribbon also made its way into Windows 7, into applications including Wordpad and Paint. Even OpenOffice.org, the anti-Microsoft, is testing a version of its office suite including a Ribbon, although Computerworld reports that some vocal users are less than pleased.
Vista users won't be forced to use the Ribbon, but ultimately they may be pushed that way, because much software developed for Windows 7 may use the Ribbon, and it's likely that ribbonized versions of software will be more fully featured than those without the Ribbon.
As for Windows XP, there is no Ribbon in its future. Microsoft says it won't port the Ribbon there. Of course, for some people, that may be all the more reason never to leave the operating system that refuses to die.
This story, "Microsoft's 'Ribbon' is in Apps to Stay" was originally published by Computerworld.