Introducing Office 365’s New Simplified Ribbon and Design Updates

Technology is changing the way people get things done. We’ve picked up the pace. Our work is more collaborative. And we’re blurring the boundaries of time and place. When Microsoft asked customers why they continue to choose Office for their most important work, they stated that they love the power the Office apps offer. The breadth and depth of features is unmatched in the industry and allows them to do things that they just can’t do with other products. But they also said that they need Office to adapt to the changing environment, and they’d love Microsoft to simplify the user experience and make that power more accessible. Microsoft has recently announced user experience updates for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Outlook rolling 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.

Microsoft came up with “The Three Cs”—a set of guiding principles that they used to help design these new updates. Because these principles will make this process feel different than any previous user experience update, OnPar thought it would be useful to share them with you.

Customers Microsoft used a customer-driven innovation process to co-create the design of the Office apps. That process consists of three phases: initial customer research and analysis; concepting and co-creation; and validation and refinement.

ContextCustomers love the power of Office, but they don’t need every feature at the same time. Microsoft wanted their new designs to understand the context that you’re working in, so you can focus on the job at hand. That means surfacing the most relevant commands based on the work you’re doing and making it easy to connect and collaborate with others.

ControlMicrosoft recognized that established skills and routines are powerful—and that the way someone uses the apps often depends on specific parts of the user interface. So, to give users more control the new updates allow users toggle significant changes on and off.

These updates are exclusive to and Office 365. But, they won’t happen all at once. Instead, over the next several months Microsoft will deploy new designs to select customers in stages and carefully test and learn. 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 three-line view.

Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for Windows offer our deepest, richest feature set—and they’re the preferred experience for users who want to get the most from Office365 apps. Users have a lot of “muscle memory” built around these versions, so Microsoft plans on being especially careful with changes that could disrupt their work. Microsoft isn’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 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 for Then, select Insiders will see them in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for Windows. Lastly, they will go to Outlook for Windows and to Outlook for Mac.

Watch this video to learn more

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