Microsoft will initially release three updates. First, Office 365 will include a new “ribbon” that is cleaner and dedicates more space for collaboration. Users who tend to work more on their own or prefer to have most of the commands at their fingertips will still be able to expand the ribbon to the familiar three-line view. 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”.
Second, Microsoft will incorporate new colors and icons. The icons should look colorful and crisp on any screen size. It is hoped that these icons will be be more inclusive and accessible.
Finally, Microsoft will implement a “zero query search”. Users will be able to place their cursor over the search box and Microsoft’s AI and Graph will offer recommendations. Office 365 users will also be able to more easily search for commands, content, and colleagues.
John Friedman, the Office 365 chief designer, reportedly collected data on how customers use their apps. His team then created new concepts and asked customers for feedback on the designs. His team discovered that customers tended to prefer cleaner templates and more intuitive functions.
Microsoft also recently released several new Outlook features for Windows, Mac, web, and mobile devices. Some of these updates included reminders through the Outlook Calendar to pay one’s bills, suggestions for meeting or event locations, and meeting RSVP tracking. These changes were intended to help customers better manage their time and content.
This simplified ribbon will be available today for Word on Office.com for select customers. It will then be available to these same users in July on Outlook. The latest colors and icons will be available for Word this month as well. Later this month, they will be released to Insiders for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for Windows. They will be available for Outlook on Windows in July and Outlook for Mac in August. The new search function is already available to many commercial customers at Office.com, SharePoint Online, and the Outlook mobile app. It will be released for web Outlook customers in August.