The simplified ribbon will be landing on the web version of Word initially - and only to some users at first - while some Insiders will see it go live in Outlook beginning next month. Inspired by a new culture of work, the changes are created to meet the demands of customers who tell Microsoft they love the power that Office apps deliver but would prefer a simplified user experience. Next month, it will show up in Outlook for Windows. There's now going to be a more "compact" view for the ribbon, with a collaboration view in the top right corner. It features "roaming pencil case and ribbon customizations across Office apps; focus mode in Word; Morph transitions, in-click sequence, and 4K video export in PowerPoint; new charts and functions in Excel; and focused inbox in Outlook", according to Spataro. While two are relatively minor and focus on visuals and efficiency, there's one major change that even Microsoft knows it needs to tread carefully with. The company promises that, at least for now, users of those applications will be able to revert to the old ribbon should they prefer it. There will be new colors, icons, and new animations and reveal effects in ribbons. Office 365 Insiders-those who signed up for preview versions of the apps-will see it in Outlook starting in July.
Microsoft is adding new colors and icons to Office, starting, again with the web version of Word at Office.com. In August, they will roll out to Outlook for Mac. Users should also expect a "zero query search" when hovering over the search box, powered by AI and the Microsoft Graph.
It sounds like these are just the first new features in a larger Office redesign. 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 is available to commercial users in some capacity already, but it will start making its way to Outlook on the web for commercial users in August.
The ribbon bar icons have also been updated to use less color and more detail so that they are not distracting and offer a cleaner look. 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.