To enhance the overall user experience, Microsoft has introduced design as well as performance updates to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook that will roll out gradually over the next few months to all its customers. Microsoft claims that these changes “are inspired by the new culture of work and designed to deliver a balance of power and simplicity.”
Office, which is being used by more than a billion people every month, has “The Three Cs” -- Customers, Context and Control -- as a set of guiding principles that, Microsoft says, will make this update divergent than any previous user experience update.
Microsoft said that the company is using a “Customer”-driven innovation process to co-create the design of the Office apps. That process consists of three phases: initial customer research and analysis; concepting and co-creation; and validation and refinement.
The second C is “Context” where Microsoft wants the new design of Office 365 to understand the context that its customers are working in so that the platform can suggest the most relevant commands based on the work making it easy to connect and collaborate with others.
As far as “Control” is concerned, the updates gives users control, allowing them to toggle significant changes on and off.
“These updates are exclusive to Office.com and Office 365—the always up-to-date versions of our apps and services. But they won’t happen all at once. Instead, over the next several months we will deploy new designs to select customers in stages and carefully test and learn. We’ll move them into production only after they’ve made it through rigorous rounds of validation and refinement,” said Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President for Office and Windows Marketing.
Initially, the set of updates will deliver changes in three key areas. The new version of the ribbon is designed to help users focus on their work and collaborate naturally with others. People who prefer to dedicate more screen space to the commands will still be able to expand the ribbon to the classic three-line view.
The web version of the Word will be the first app to get this update and it will be gradually rolled out to select consumer users on Office.com. Select Insiders will then get the simplified ribbon in Outlook for Windows in July.
Microsoft has introduced new colours and new icons which are built as scalable graphics, across all apps. With this change, the icons are crisp and appear in a clean symmetry on screens of any size. These changes are designed to both modernise the user experience and make it more inclusive and accessible.
The new colours and icons will first appear in the web version of Word for Office.com. Later this month, select Insiders will see them in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for Windows, In July, they will go to Outlook for Windows and in August they will begin rolling out to Outlook for Mac.
The Search will now become a very important element of the user experience as it will provide access to commands, content and people. With “zero query search,” simply placing your cursor in the search box will bring up recommendations powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Microsoft Graph.
The update has already been rolled out for commercial users in Office.com, SharePoint Online, and the Outlook mobile app and it will start rolling out to commercial users of Outlook on the web in August.