Microsoft Office gets a facelift to improve usability

Microsoft Office gets a facelift to improve usability

These will first appear in in the web version of Word for Office.com, and then roll out in later this month to the Insider versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for Windows. Among the top changes that will come with the update is a simplified command ribbon at the top, new icons and colours and a better search function. The company promises that, at least for now, users of those applications will be able to revert to the old ribbon should they prefer it. Today, Redmond announced that it will be simplifying the ribbon and using the slick new Fluent Design system that's been making its way into Windows 10.

While there are more changes in the works, Microsoft corporate vice president for Office and Windows marketing Jared Spataro previewed three of the upcoming changes.

Across all of the Office apps users will start to see new icons and colors built as scalable graphics - so they render with crisp, clean lines on screens of any size.

Microsoft is giving Office's user interface a makeover, including tweaks to the ribbon user interface (UI), new colors and updated icons.

Image microsoft
Image microsoft

Spataro explained that for the new design effort, Microsoft had researched and analysed customer input, and given them access to concepts and involvement in creating the new look for Office 365.

That subscription qualification is important: only Office 365 subscribers will get this new interface. You can see the evolution of Microsoft Office icons over the years in the image below. With "zero query search" simply placing your cursor in the search box will bring up recommendations powered by AI and the Microsoft Graph.

Users on the Windows Insider early adopter program will get the new ribbon for Outlook in July this year; Word, Excel and PowerPoint for Windows won't get the new ribbon yet, as Microsoft believes it has to be extra careful with those programs so as not to interrupt users' muscle memory. To name a few, features like the roaming pencil case and ribbon customisations will debut in the Office apps with the new edition.

"Commercial users can already see this experience in action in Office.com, SharePoint Online, and the Outlook mobile app, and it will start rolling out to commercial users of Outlook on the web in August", Microsoft added. However, they did mention that in August the changes would be rolling out to Outlook for Mac.

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