Microsoft is giving Office 365 a facelift - Software

Angelica Greene
June 15, 2018

Yes, another new change to the productivity toolbar which set off quite a controversy when it was first introduced in Office 2007.

The Ribbon-that collection of icons for frequently needed functions at the top of the program window-drew ire when it first appeared in Microsoft Office, but most users now find it indispensable. Desktop Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps will see the changes later this month, followed by Outlook for Windows next month, and Outlook for Mac in August.

Six weeks after shipping a preview of Office 2019 to commercial customers running Windows, Microsoft this week followed with a beta for the Mac edition of the application suite. Apparently remembering the significant user backlash that accompanied the original rollout of the Office ribbon, Microsoft is taking care to present the changes as a work-in-progress that will be tested with initial user groups and modified as necessary, rather than blasted out to the billion-plus monthly users of Office. Users will be able to place their cursor over the search box and Microsoft's AI and Graph will offer recommendations. While this certainly isn't the biggest news coming out of Microsoft these days, it should be a welcome update the the products for anyone that uses them on a daily basis.

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.

New colors and icons: Across the apps, users will see new colors and icons built as scalable graphics. The updated so-called "zero query search" feature will give users suggested content, people and documents based on which app they're in and where they are. This feels like a much improved, and much more grown-up version of Office.

The updates will affect the web version.

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Select consumer users of Web versions of Word will see the simplified ribbon this week.

"As we were making these changes, we were focused on three things: Customer input, context, and giving people control over their experience", said Jon Friedman, Chief Designer, Microsoft Office. Microsoft will monitor the usage of these new features and will listen to feedback from users.

Google recently redesigned Gmail, lending the popular email service a more modern look and new capabilities that help users manage their inboxes and avoid scams.

Interestingly, these changes-alongside other recent changes to Windows 10-undo in large part the most highly-criticized design decisions found in the Ribbon design of Office 2007 and Metro design of Windows 8, which were created under the guidance of Steven Sinofsky and Julie Larson-Green.

More detail about the changes is available on the Office 365 blog.

Other reports by GizPress

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