Microsoft to give Office 365, Office.com apps a makeover

Microsoft Office 2019 for Mac previews improved inking features and more

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The popular suite of productivity apps, which includes Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook, is getting a makeover that will make some familiar parts of the interface, including the uppermost "ribbon" of tools, look different.

Microsoft is adding new colors and icons to Office, starting, again with the web version of Word at Office.com.

Automated recommendations reflect Microsoft's belief that Office should deliver the commands users are likely to want while they work, rather than making them pause to hunt something down. Microsoft's goal with these changes is to offer users a more powerful and streamlined experience. "But when we do, users will always be able to revert back to the classic ribbon with one click".

Microsoft is overhauling the interfaces of all the Office versions to bring a much more consistent look and feel across the various platforms that the applications support.

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The new icons are meant to render more crisply and cleanly on screens of any size and to look better for those with vision impairments.now there are more than 10,000 different icons in Office, Friedman noted, and Microsoft wanted to make them more consistent and accessible from the get-go, using color, contrast and other design elements.

Most notably, the company is redesigning the ribbon, the controversial tabbed toolbar implementation that made its debut in 2007, with new Fluent Design features. The Office 2019 commercial preview for Windows 10 users was rolled out in April this year, with features that are usually seen in the company's Office 365 subscription. Features will only become generally available once they've successfully navigated rigorous rounds of validation and refinement, says Jared Spataro, corporate vice preside for Office and Windows marketing. This is clearly the case on the Office.com landing page, where the app buttons use shadow and depth to highlight what's under the mouse, but I didn't see any Fluent influence in screenshots and videos of the actual program windows, aside from animations that happen when you hover the mouse over top menus. Next month, it will show up in Outlook for Windows.

New features include a roaming pencil case and ribbon customizations in all these Office apps. This functionality is already present in the Outlook mobile app, Office.com, and SharePoint Online. Gradually rolling out over the next few months, users should first expect to see enhancements to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook.

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