Office today has a whole bunch of versions-the traditional, fully featured Win32 desktop applications and their near counterparts on the Mac, along with various simpler versions for the Web, mobile, and Universal Windows Platform (UWP).
Probably the biggest change the redesign introduces is a new smaller ribbon bar that the company believes is easier to use yet still powerful enough to provide users of Office 365 with the right tools to get work done. But if you're one of those people who needs more (Microsoft would probably call you a power-user) then you can reinstate the fancier one with three lines instead. 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.
Microsoft announced that starting today the most-used productivity product in the world is getting a makeover. They'll hit Word on the Web first, followed by Word, Excel, and PowerPoint on the desktop later this month. And while the new design is meant to focus on simplicity, you'll still be able to expand the ribbon to the classic three-line view.
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Microsoft revealed that it worked on search to make it more useful. Users should also expect a "zero query search" when hovering over the search box, powered by AI and the Microsoft Graph.
Users on the Windows Insider early adopter program will get the new ribbon for Outlook in July this year; Word, Excel and PowerPoint for Windows won't get the new ribbon yet, as Microsoft believes it has to be extra careful with those programs so as not to interrupt users' muscle memory.
Search-Microsoft is planning to revamp the search experience across Office apps providing access to commands, content, and people. In July, they'll be added to Outlook for Windows, and in August, Outlook for Mac. The update is for Office.com and Office 365 users, and will begin rolling out to business customers and consumers in June.
A final and very welcome development, according to Friedman, is that the apps open faster, having been rebuilt on top of a new platform.