After getting a peek at some new design elements coming to Microsoft's Office apps this week, Microsoft has now confirmed it is planning a makeover for the Office 365 experience. Focused initially on three key areas, the overhaul will bring a simplified ribbon, new colors and icons, as well as a new search experience that leverages the Microsoft Graph.
The first major change is the updated design for the ribbon. 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. And while the new design is meant to focus on simplicity, you'll still be able to expand the ribbon to the classic three-line view.
The new ribbon experience is rolling out first to the web version of Word starting today, and Insiders will start to see it pop up in Outlook for Windows in July. Microsoft says it isn't quite ready to bring the new ribbon to Word, Excel and PowerPoint for Windows just yet, but it'll eventually make its way to those apps as well.
New colors and icons
The second big overhaul is related to the colors and icons for each app. Designed to make the apps look more modern, the new icons are built as scalable graphics "so they render with crisp, clean lines on screens of any size," Microsoft says. They'll first make an appearance on the web version of Word, and they'll make their way to Works, Excel and PowerPoint for Windows for Insiders later this month. A rollout for Outlook for Windows is planned for July, along with Outlook for Mac in August.
Lastly, Microsoft is planning to place a much larger emphasis on search within its Office apps. Leveraging the Microsoft graph, the new search experience will immediately bring up search recommendations when you place your cursor in the search box. This is available to commercial users in some capacity already, but it will start making its way to Outlook on the web for commercial users in August.
It's unclear if we'll start seeing these updates make their way to the next major Office perpetual release, Office 2019, but it's probably a safe bet that they'll arrive in some capacity.
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