Microsoft tries cutting the Ribbon in Office UI upgrade

Credit Microsoft

Credit Microsoft

Finally, Microsoft has given its productivity suite a colour makeover as well as new icons that are now created as scalable graphics so they can work on screens of any size.

The biggest change will see Redmond cut its "Ribbon" toolbar from three lines to two.

The most recent version of Office is Microsoft Office 2016, which was actually released in 2015. Microsoft will expand some of the changes to other Office applications and will move them to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook on desktop devices this year as well.

The improved Office ribbon will only roll out to starting today, with Insiders seeing it in Outlook for Windows starting in July. The updated ribbon offers a cleaner, simpler design, it's also more customizable, allowing people to choose their most-used features.

Microsoft also explained in its blog, "Office 2019 for Mac also includes features for IT that will help simplify deployment and management".

The ribbon redesign is meant to provide a more simplified way for you to get things done. Users should also expect a "zero query search" when hovering over the search box, powered by AI and the Microsoft Graph. This is clearly the case on the 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.

In addition to the Fluent Design being added, Microsoft has added a new search experience that uses machine learning and Microsoft AI.

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". And almost two months later, the company is back with another important announcement about the Office 2019. Nearly all these features are already available for Office 365 ProPlus users, but owners and users of stand-alone Office for Mac 2016 have been missing out on them. This further cements the subscription-versus-perpetual license split that the company has already been exploiting over the last few years: Office 365 subscribers get a trickle of new features each month to their desktop applications; perpetually licensed customers don't.

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