Microsoft updates its productivity suite, Office

Last week, Microsoft announced that Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook are getting new updates. The company will be rolling out the new features over the next few months. Some of the major changes include a new collapsed ‘ribbon’ and new set of icons. These changes may help modernize a venerable but aging franchise. In the past few years, Microsoft has transformed Office from a set of desktop applications to a cloud-connected apps and services integrated environment. It also allowed Microsoft to better push the new updates for its softwares to the customers. Microsoft has been calling these changes a part of its “Fluent Design” system that the company announced last year for Windows 10.

microsoft office apps icons

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Simplified ribbon

The major change that the users of Office are going to notice is the ‘Simplified ribbon’. A space-saving single line ribbon toolbar will be displayed at the top of your screen in place of three-line ribbon toolbar. This will provide more space to the users to work on for example, a Word document, thus increasing their focus. Microsoft has also left an option to revert back to the original three-line ribbon toolbar, in case anyone does not like the new look.

The option to customize the new ribbon toolbar has also been given. Users will now be able to pin some of their most used or favorite commands to the ribbon. Microsoft Word will be the first online app to get the new simplified ribbon feature. Next will be Outlook for Windows. But people who use these softwares on Windows have to wait a little bit longer as Microsoft solicits more feedback from a broader set of users.

Fresh icons

The web version of Word at will also be the first app to receive the new updated and fresh set of icons. Microsoft has designed these icons with new colors and higher contrast ratios, so as to make it easier for those people who have poor vision. This problem was first noticed by a Microsoft designer with low vision. She found that when contrast is lower and icons are of the same color, they may blur on various screens.

Few selected “Insiders” will get the access to these newly designed icons for Word, Excel and PowerPoint for Windows later this month. They will show up in Outlook for Windows in July and in August, the company will start rolling them out to Outlook on Mac.

Another update coming to Office is the Search Recommendations. Before you start typing anything in the search box, you will see recommendations generated by artificial intelligence and based on your past searches on Office or Bing or what you are working on. Microsoft is currently seeking users’ feedback on all these new updates and changes.