Microsoft is renovating the Office 365 and Office.com apps to simplify the experience for millions of users who rely on the productivity suite.
The user experience updates will be released gradually over the next few months to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Outlook apps. Microsoft mentioned in a blog post that the motivation behind the updates is to deliver a balance of power and simplicity.
The renovation will bring a simplified ribbon, new colors and icons, and a new search experience powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and Microsoft Graph.
- Simplified version of ribbon
The first update in the list is redesign of the ribbon interface that frames at the top of Office applications. Microsoft is slimming the cluttered three-layer layout into just one line, that will display the key features only. Microsoft calls it the simplified version of ribbon.
If users want to access the additional features, they can always expand the ribbon back to traditional version with just a click.
The simplified ribbon experience will initially be released for the web version of Word, and will further be extended to Outlook in July for select members of Office Insiders beta testing program.
- New icons and colors as scalable graphics
Microsoft is refreshing the design elements in Office apps, with the addition of new colors and icons that are built as scalable graphics. These changes won’t take much time to get used to.
The new icons will render more crisply and cleanly on screens of all sizes, modernize the user experience and enhance the usability.
These changes will begin rolling out to the web version of Word, and then to the select customers of Office Insiders in Excel and PowerPoint for Windows. Outlook for Windows and Outlook for Mac users will be able to access new colors and icons in July and August, respectively.
- Search option powered by AI and Microsoft Graph
Last, but not the least, Microsoft is making the search option smarter, powering it with AI technology and Microsoft Graph interface. The search is one of the most essential element of the user experience, that allows quicker access to commands, content, as well as people.
With the updated ‘zero query search’, the users will see recommendations just by placing cursor in search box.
The revamped search option is now available to commercial users of Office.com, SharePoint Online, and the Outlook mobile app. Whereas, the users of Outlook on the Web will see it in August.
“Through gathering feedback from thousands of people, we’ve found that people react most positively to feeling in control, productive and secure,” said Trish Miner, principal design researcher, Microsoft.