What you need to know
- Microsoft today detailed its "future vision" for Microsoft 365.
- This vision places a heavy focus on cutting out distractions, making AI more useful, and serving you what you need wherever you are.
- Some of these changes are just explorations, while others are expected to roll out "within a year or two."
Microsoft has been on a journey in recent years to transform the way Microsoft 365 is designed and the ways in which we interact with it. In a new blog post, the design team at Microsoft offered a look at the future of Microsoft 365, detailing some of the changes it has planned or is exploring. While we may not see everything Microsoft offered a peek at, it's a tantalizing look at Microsoft's overall design philosophy.
In the blog post, Microsoft focuses on flexible designs that are meant to "facilitate not just modern work, but modern life." That's particularly important as more of us are working from home, bleeding the lines between a work-life balance. Still, it's an aspirational goal that's hard to wrap your mind around without concrete examples.
One of the biggest problems Microsoft says it is pushing to solve is to reduce stress and anxiety brought about by distractions. "The next wave of Microsoft 365 UX changes," Microsoft says, "will go even further by fading brand colors from app headers and exploring adaptive commanding." Beyond those changes, Microsoft says it plans to deploy a flexible ribbon that "progressively discloses contextually relevant commands at the right time."
Search across the Microsoft 365 suite is also on deck for some improvements. Microsoft says it plans to use Fluid Frameworks to expand into "myriad forthcoming experiences" to keep your creative flow going wherever you are.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is another area that Microsoft plans to give attention in its vision for Microsoft 365. "Contextualizing AI within this broader picture helps us holistically design intelligent Microsoft 365 experiences that don't just leverage what our powerful AI can do, but what it should do to serve human needs," Microsoft says. "There are times to champion solely human abilities and times to amplify them with AI."
This AI overhaul will include fresh Cortana experiences, along with Project Cortex to make connections between topics, people, and content, forming them into "digestible bites you can act on." Microsoft gives an example of this with Excel, which could spot errors while you write formulas and then present them for you to correct when you're ready.
Finally, Microsoft details its plans to make Microsoft 365 adapt users with dynamic, contextual, and "humanizing" elements. Asynchronous abilities, like allowing you to comment with video responses, will be built into Microsoft 365 to allow "sides of you to shine through" that may not be immediately apparent in text communications. Microsoft says it is also exploring "more artful themes and backgrounds," along with new ways for people to express their gender, culture, or hobbies.
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