If you are moving from Office 2003 to 2007 or 2010 Beta, get ready for a learning curve when it comes to The Ribbon. Instead of having the learning experience be frustrating, you can install a cool add-in called Ribbon Hero, a game that makes the learning process more fun.

Ribbon Hero

Note: You’ll need to download and install Visual Studio Tools for the Office system 3.0 runtime if not installed already.

After you install Ribbon Hero and open a supported Office app, the first time you’ll get a verification message warning…we’ve tested it and it’s safe, so you can go ahead and let it install. You’ll need to verify it the first time you open Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

When the install is complete and the Office application opens (in this instance it’s Word), you have the option to watch a tutorial video. Uncheck the box net to Show this dialog upon startup if you don’t want to see it anymore then click Close.

In the Home tab you will see Ribbon Hero located in the Office Labs panel.

When you kick off Ribbon Hero you’ll see how many points you have, a new challenge (here we see how to apply Styles), Connect with Facebook, and your points breakdown.

Each challenge you can decide to play or skip to the next one. Since we have no points yet, let’s take a look at the challenge. They give you an overview of what it is, so here we need to apply professional styles to a document with one click. They also show you the before and how it will look after you successfully change it.

A new document opens up and again you’re shown how it should look. You need to apply the changes to the part of the document on the top.

We went through and made the simple style adjustments to the document and yay! We can see the congratulations image, amount of points scored, and a balloons graphics floats by in the right panel.

Here we move on to the next challenge which is adding effects to a picture.

Here I am going through the second step of manipulating the image.

If you need help figuring it out, you can pull up a hint and it will show where in the Ribbon you need to go to make the changes.

This is basically how you play and after you achieve the goal you can see how many points you’ve got and continue on to the next challenge.

You can also score points by doing things on your own as you would in everyday document creation.

You can use Ribbon Hero in PowerPoint…

and also in Excel…

You can share your scores with your friends on Facebook and challenge them as well.

This might seem like a dorky game, but if you have some free time and want to learn how to use the Ribbon to manipulate documents, it’s a lot more fun than searching through help files trying to figure it out. If you’re looking for a way to make learning the Ribbon more tolerable, you might want to try out Ribbon Hero and introduce it to your friends and co-workers.

Download Ribbon Hero for Office 2007 & 2010