Microsoft is giving its Office 365 apps a makeover

After getting a peek at some new design elements coming to Microsoft's Office apps this week, Microsoft has now confirmed (opens in new tab) 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.

Simplified ribbon

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.

Search

Office revamped search

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.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

11 Comments
  • I hate to be that guy. That guy who was always so nieve to think that everything MS does is in response to Andromeda.. I hate to think like that because it's just not true, and it's ridiculous.
    .......
    But, unfortunately,, I am that idiot😛
  • The big issue with this simplified ribbon, for me at least, is that there is no Quick Access Toolbar. I have everything important up there and I hide the ribbon. If we can customize the new UI, then ok.
  • In the video, when it pulls out of the browser into the full version of office the Quick Access Toolbar is there up on top still. Never fear Otto, you're safe! lol
  • I love this quote, "The second big overhaul is related to the colors and icons for each app".
    Oooooohh.
  • Cool
  • Wow, Big deal!
  • How about fixing them so I don’t have to sign in every freaking time I use them.
  • Instead of messing about with the interface, what about a bit of concentration on functionality? For example, in Word desktop the only way I can use my own templates is to use Windows Explorer and double click on the DOTX file. There used to be personal. Now all there is are the useless Microsoft on line templates under the File menu. In earlier versions there was New From... Word seems to have become worse with every recent version.
  • They won't open by browsing to them within Word? MS had a tool to set a default template folder and there was a way to customize it, possibly to a local folder that will be displayed as opposed to just the online templates. https://support.office.com/en-us/article/where-are-my-custom-templates-8...
    I haven't attempted this and agree that everyone seems to be "Cloud Happy" with everything, which in some cases is pretty sweet.
  • jtwoodfield, as FriscoTec says, you can open your DOTX files from within Word. You can either browse to them like any document through the Open dialog or you can add the folder where they're stored to Word and they appear in the New... section. To do that: 1. File -> Options -> Save
    2. In "Default personal templates location:" set your templates folder path name
    3. Hit OK Then, after that, any time you go to File -> New, just select "PERSONAL" at the top above the list of templates and you'll see all your locally saved Word templates. Works great. No loss of function at all. That where I keep my letterhead and other custom templates. I use this feature all the time.
  • I'm quite reluctant to embrace change but I have to say: thus far Microsoft has evolved their productivity software, developer software (like Visual Studio) and Windows 10 OS into a great synergistic package to allow us to accomplish many tasks efficiently. NOT ONLY EVOLVING THEIR SOFTWARE, but evolving us as users. They do this while staying ahead of the curve in technological trends- bettering many platforms and devices. Heck, I even find myself using EDGE from time to time.