Windows 7 rumoured to have new UI framework with Ribbon and Jewel

Not sure what to make of this. A number of sites are reporting on a Microsoft job posting which includes the following text:

Come lead the effort to update the Windows 7 platform with the latest advancements in User Interface design. Bring the Ribbon, Jewel, and other new UI concepts to the Windows platform … Our mission is to enable the next generation of user interface development on the Windows platform. We will be determining the new Windows user interface guidelines and building a platform that supports it. We’ll eliminate much of the drudgery of Win32 UI development and enable rich, graphical, animated user interface by using markup based UI and a small, high performance, native code runtime … The UI Platform Team is looking for a senior technical leader to help drive the design and implementation of the new UI framework.

The posting appears to have been pulled, which means I can’t verify that it ever existed. Still, it’s thought-provoking. The “Jewel”, by the way, is the big button at top left of Office 2007 apps – the one you have to click when in search of the File menu.

I get on OK with the ribbon in Office 2007, but it has annoyances. For example, in Excel, why is Insert Cells and Rows on the Home ribbon but not on the Insert ribbon? I tolerate it because of the Quick Access Toolbar which lets me group the commands I often use but can’t find easily.

Even so, there’s no harm in making the ribbon a first-class citizen in Windows. But what about this new “markup based UI” and “small, high performance, native code runtime”? It is hard to believe that Microsoft would abandon WPF, which is already a markup-based UI. Might this be a new WPF runtime that does not require .NET? This may seem plausible if you recall that early versions of Longhorn attempted to use .NET for the core Windows UI, a mistaken decision that was a factor in the infamous reset, and thus indirectly caused Vista to be delivered both late and unready.

It still makes little sense. Microsoft already has a small, high-performance, alternative WPF runtime: Silverlight. Why build another one? Further, Windows needs simplification, not new frameworks. It also seems late in the day to be contemplating the “design and implementation” of a new UI framework. Perhaps it is just an early April Fool; or maybe plans are further along than the posting implies.

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