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

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

The updates apply to Office.com and Office 365 and will be rolled out over the next few months, the company says it will "test and learn" as it goes - those of a cynical mind might see that as code for letting users find the bugs.

Microsoft also explained in its blog, "Office 2019 for Mac also includes features for IT that will help simplify deployment and management".

Updates include the roaming pencil case and ribbon customizations across Office apps; focus mode in Word; Morph transitions, in-click sequence, and 4k video export in PowerPoint; new charts and functions in Excel; and focused inbox in Outlook.

Microsoft is redesigning its Office productivity apps to make them easier to use.

With the improvements to the Office Ribbon, users can expect a focus on working and collaborating with others in a more natural way.

Second, Microsoft will incorporate new colors and icons. Inspired by a new culture of work, the changes are created to meet the demands of customers who tell Microsoft they love the power that Office apps deliver but would prefer a simplified user experience. The new look, Microsoft says, sports a cleaner and simpler look while giving users the ability to customize it with the tools they use most, mimicking the experience of pinning items to your taskbar in Windows. 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.

Finally, search is going to be a key part of the UI.

Word for Office.com will be the first app to feature the new colors and icons, followed by Word, Excel and PowerPoint for Windows sometime in June for some Office Insiders and Outlook for Windows users in July. Leveraging the Microsoft graph, the new search experience will immediately bring up search recommendations when you place your cursor in the search box. Microsoft argued that one of the reasons that it is allowing customers to keep the classic ribbon is because users "have a lot of "muscle memory" built around these versions".

That subscription qualification is important: only Office 365 subscribers will get this new interface. Microsoft is rolling out new features in waves so it can collect feedback and improve Office slowly, which is definitely a good idea given the reaction to some of the changes it's previously implemented.

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