Office 365 is getting fluent design, simplified ribbon, other design changes


While Microsoft knows that it's walking a fine line between streamlining things and upsetting users who prefer the traditional ribbon, this doesn't really need to be a point of anxiety for Office 365 users. Following the new update, the Search field in Office 365 apps will begin recommending results based on what it thinks you're looking for.

In addition to new features baked right into the array of apps within Office 2019, the new suite will also include a set of command-line tools that, as Microsoft puts it, "will allow IT admins to centrally control how and when Office updates are applied to users' devices". "But when we do, users will always be able to revert back to the classic ribbon with one click". The simplified ribbon will be landing on the web version of Word initially - and only to some users at first - while some Insiders will see it go live in Outlook beginning next month.

Outlook on Windows is first to get the updated look-and-feel
Outlook on Windows is first to get the updated look-and-feel

The preview comprises Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote, and is the "perpetual update" - Microsoft's term for standalone software - for Apple's macOS operating system. There will be new colors, icons, and new animations and reveal effects in ribbons.

Microsoft also explained in its blog, "Office 2019 for Mac also includes features for IT that will help simplify deployment and management". The Commercial Preview of the 2019 edition of Office for Windows users was already out in the month of April. Microsoft is now making it so the search functionality can provide access to commands, content, and people. Then in July, they'll show up for users of Outlook for Windows and in August for Outlook for Mac users. With what Microsoft is calling "zero query search" you can place the cursor in the search box and recommendations will be brought up using AI and leveraging Microsoft Graph.

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New colors and icons-Microsoft is updating the colors of icons and also introducing new icons built as scalable graphics.

Microsoft isn't the only technology giant that has been brushing up the interfaces of some of its most popular products.

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While Excel is getting funnel charts and 2D maps along with new functions, Outlook is getting a @mentions feature which is similar to the revamped Gmail. Microsoft has been testing the simplified Ribbon with 30 large Office 365 customers and has been flighting changes to users there to see how they would be accepted, Friedman said.

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