Skip to main content

Three user experience updates Office announced today

Written By published June 13, 2018

Today, over at the Microsoft 365 Blog, Office announced user experience updates for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook that will roll out gradually over the next few months. These changes are inspired by the new culture of work and designed to deliver a balance of power and simplicity.

For an overview of these changes, check out this video by Jon Friedman, our Chief Designer for Office. 

Here are some highlights from their post:

“Office is used by more than a billion people every month, so while we’re excited about these changes, we also recognize how important it is to get things right. 

These updates are exclusive to 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.

The initial set of updates includes three changes. 

Simplified Ribbon. 

A new, updated 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 3-line view.

The first app to get this new experience will be the web version of Word. That update will start to roll out to select consumer users today on Select Insiders will then see the simplified ribbon in Outlook for Windows in July.  

Word, Excel, and PowerPoint on Windows offer our deepest, richest feature set – and they’re the preferred experience for users who want to get the most from our apps. Users have a lot of “muscle memory” built around these versions, so we plan on being especially careful with changes that could disrupt their work. We aren’t ready to bring the simplified ribbon to these versions yet because we feel like we need more feedback from a broader set of users first. But when we do, users will always be able to revert back to the classic ribbon with one click.

New Colors and Icons. 

Across the apps you’ll start to see new colors and new icons built as scalable graphics – so they render with crisp, clean lines on screens of any size. These changes are designed to both modernize the user experience and make it more inclusive and accessible.  

The new colors and icons will first appear in the web version of Word at  Then, 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.


Search will become a much more important element of the user experience, providing access to commands, content, and people.   With “zero query search,” simply placing your cursor in the search box will bring up recommendations powered by AI and the Microsoft Graph.

Commercial users can already see this experience in action in, SharePoint Online, and the Outlook mobile app, and it will start rolling out to commercial users of Outlook on the web in August.

We plan on carefully monitoring usage and feedback as the changes roll out, and we’ll update our designs as we learn more.”

Head over to the Microsoft 365 Blog to read more!