Microsoft is redesigning Office to simplify the user experience

Microsoft is redesigning Office to simplify the user experience

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". As such, simply placing your cursor in the search box will trigger a "zero query search" with recommendations power by AI and the Microsoft Graph.

According to Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President for Office and Windows Marketing, search "will become a much more important element of the user experience, providing access to commands, content, and people".

The first major change is the updated design for the ribbon. They include a simplified ribbon-the once-controversial collection of menu items and tools that reside near the top of Word, Excel and PowerPoint will soon take on a more streamlined appearance meant to help users focus on their work and collaborate with others.

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In addition, Microsoft has also redesigned its icons for the sake of those with low visibility. Following on from the initial business preview of Office 2019 for Windows in April, the company has now announced that Office 2019 will be available as a preview for Mac machines with immediate effect. Microsoft will roll out this experience to the web version of Word first and will start to roll out to select consumer users today on Office.com. 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.

Microsoft today highlighted some upcoming changes for the Office 365 user interface. Office 365 Insiders-those who signed up for preview versions of the apps-will see it in Outlook starting in July. 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. Microsoft plans to roll it out to commercial users of Outlook on the web in August.

To ensure they get it right, Microsoft developed three guiding principles to "use as a north star" that'll include direct customer feedback, understanding the context you're working in and controlling the experience. Microsoft is rolling out new features in waves so it can collect feedback and improve Office slowly, which is definitely a good idea given the reaction to some of the changes it's previously implemented.

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