Microsoft's Office UI update includes a simpler, cleaner ribbon

The simplified ribbon in Office is one line and customizable

Coming first to Word Online, the new ribbon is meant to provide a simpler experience, and it's "designed to help users focus on their work and collaborate naturally with others".

After getting a peek at some new design elements coming to Microsoft's Office apps this week, Microsoft has now confirmed it is planning a makeover for the Office 365 experience. You can see the new icons in the image above, and as with the simplified ribbon, we'll see these launch in Word for Office.com this month before arriving to Insiders using Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for Windows later in June.

As with the previous release back in April of this year, this latest Office 2019 preview will be available internally to businesses who have yet to take the move over to Microsoft's cloud-based Office 365 offering.

First is a simplified version of the ribbon. The new ribbon will be far more customizable, letting you add or remove any icon you want. Also, some Office Insiders will see the simplified ribbon in Outlook for Windows in July.

How Office icons have evolved
How Office icons have evolved

For everyone else, Microsoft is moving forward cautiously, especially when it comes to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for Windows.

In addition to new features baked right into the array of apps within Office 2019, the new suite will also include a set of command-line tools that, as Microsoft puts it, "will allow IT admins to centrally control how and when Office updates are applied to users' devices". Essentially, this ensures that icons have smooth lines and render correctly regardless of the display you view them on. A rollout for Outlook for Windows is planned for July, along with Outlook for Mac in August. Leveraging the Microsoft graph, the new search experience will immediately bring up search recommendations when you place your cursor in the search box.

Office 2019 for Mac delivers new features for both the end users and the IT department. Introduction of email templates, and read and delivery receipts are some additional features which will make their way to the Office portfolio apps. Microsoft plans to roll it out to commercial users of Outlook on the web in August. Microsoft is rolling out new features in waves so it can collect feedback and improve Office slowly, which is definitely a good idea given the reaction to some of the changes it's previously implemented.

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