I propose a new user interface for Calculator, because the one we’ve been using since 1990 is too confusing, and the one that came with Windows 7 didn’t help. It’s just different, not better.

The only thing that can save Calculator is the ribbon interface.
Note the numbers 1-3, 4-6, and 7-9 get grouped together to save space. The concepts of 0 and decimals are confusing for young computer users, so the best thing to do with them is bury them under an arrow in “other.” Operators get their own group. A focus group can decide whether the division mark should go in the operators group, or whether it should be buried along with 0 and decimals. Many users find division confusing, but only a focus group can decide whether that means users will use the division operator a lot, or rarely. If they use it a lot, bury it. If they use it rarely, display it on the screen. Perhaps display it all the time, since there is an empty space next to the numbers. Only the least useful command in the whole program is worthy of being displayed all the time.

So this screen capture should be considered preliminary. Still, it illustrates the concept well. Note how much less confusing the screen is with less showing at a time. This will make Calculator much less intimidating for people who don’t know how to use a calculator. It also makes Calculator take up less space on the screen, which would be highly useful on netbooks. Critics claim the ribbon needlessly wastes a lot of screen space, but this ribbon-enabled Calculator demonstrates how this myth is just not true.

Never mind how simple math operations now take at least two ribbons and switching between the two ribbons at least twice. Never mind how productivity will plummet. And note how now you really do need a book to understand it, or at the very least, to find anything. Calc For Dummies will be a bestseller. Whoever gets to write that book will promote Windows 8 very heavily. The knockoff Complete Idiots Guide to Calc won’t be, but that author will also promote Windows 8. A Sparknotes cheater’s card will also sell well, so whoever writes that will also promote Windows 8 heavily. It could also warrant a feature story in PC Magazine, so they’ll promote Windows 8 too.

See a pattern yet?

Coming next: the ribbon-enabled command prompt. Because those wily Windows veterans are already scheming to escape having to use the ribbon in Explorer windows by using the command prompt. This must be stopped. Besides, digging DOS commands out of a ribbon is much easier than remembering all of them (who can do that?).