Every week, I get at least a couple of e-mail messages asking me to "tell Microsoft" to add Fix X or Feature Y to Windows, Office or another of its products. (Mostly, the requests are about Windows and Office.)
I hate to admit it, but I don't have any more pull with Microsoft's development and planning teams than you, readers. (And if you work for a big Microsoft shop, your feedback and input has a lot more weight than mine.)
That said, frustrated users, take heart. Microsoft product planner on the Office team has created a new Web site, MakeOfficeBetter.com, which allows any person to submit a suggested fix or feature for Office. Registered visitors can add and vote for features that they'd like to see added to some future rendition of the product.
Product planner Steve Zaske and his cohort, coder Luke Foust, set expectations right off the bat about what feedback submitted there will and won't do:
"We're two Microsoft employee's looking to collect customer ideas on how to improve Microsoft Office. If you've got a new feature idea or an idea on how to improve Microsoft Office, please share it here...and vote on other ideas you agree with. Through the magic of crowd-sourcing the best ideas should rise to the top.
"Although we are employed by Microsoft, this is not an official Microsoft website. You should not expect an official response from Microsoft by posting an idea here, but we'll do our best to get the ideas posted here in front of the right people within the Office development team."
There are a few suggestions on the site already, ranging from improving the RSS Reader in Outlook (I'd vote for that), to making Excel documents work like Word documents. Surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly, given Zaske is a member of the Office team), I don't see any suggestions for allowing users to circumvent the Office Ribbon.
Even though Microsoft has yet to deliver the first widescale test build of Office Web Apps or the first public beta of Office 2010, I'd be surprised if any of these suggestions make it into Office 2010. The Office team's philosophy, for quite some time now, has been to lock down the bulk of Office before testers get their hands on it... But maybe you'll have luck with Office 2012+.
(Thanks to Softie Scott Hanselman for the tip about the new site.)