Microsoft Gives Office a New Look

Microsoft Office 2019 for Mac previews improved inking features and more

Microsoft Office 2019 for Mac previews improved inking features and more

Updates include the roaming pencil case and ribbon customizations across Office apps; focus mode in Word; Morph transitions, in-click sequence, and 4k video export in PowerPoint; new charts and functions in Excel; and focused inbox in Outlook. It will also introduce the Ribbon changes first at Office.com an then to a subset of Office 365 users, "because we feel like we need more feedback from a broader set of users first".

Speaking of colors, users will also start to notice new colors and icons across Office apps that are built as scalable graphics meant to both modernize the experience and make it more accessible. Also going live on the Office.com iteration of Microsoft's productivity suite, this new redesign has three major focuses in all.

Also showing up in Word Online today are new colors and icons.

The default is now a scaled-down ribbon with only the most commonly-used tasks shown as buttons on a single line. The company promises that, at least for now, users of those applications will be able to revert to the old ribbon should they prefer it. If you don't like it, you can still expand the ribbon to its former size. Microsoft says does not want to bring the new ribbon to Word, Excel, or Powerpoint physical apps just yet, as it doesn't want to make changes to disrupt the workflow in these apps. You can see the evolution of Microsoft Office icons over the years in the image below.


Search will become more prominent with Microsoft saying it "will become a much more important element of the user experience, providing access to commands, content, and people".

The release for business Mac users includes access to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote and will ultimately ship alongside Office 2019 for Windows during the second half of this year. Microsoft calls this "zero query search" and notes that the recommendations are powered by artificial intelligence and Microsoft Graph.

Customers: We're using a customer-driven innovation process to co-create the design of the Office apps. "In July, they will go to Outlook for Windows, and in August they will begin rolling out to Outlook for Mac", said Microsoft in the blog post. Microsoft has been testing the simplified Ribbon with 30 large Office 365 customers and has been flighting changes to users there to see how they would be accepted, Friedman said.

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