Microsoft is redesigning Office to simplify the user experience

Shawn Knight

Posts: 12,597   +124
Staff member

Microsoft on Wednesday announced a series of changes in store for its Office suite of productivity applications. Inspired by a new culture of work, the changes are designed to meet the demands of customers who tell Microsoft they love the power that Office apps deliver but would prefer a simplified user experience.

To ensure they get it right, Microsoft developed three guiding principles to “use as a north star” that’ll include direct customer feedback, understanding the context you’re working in and controlling the experience.

It starts with a simplified ribbon that’s meant to help users focus on their work and collaborate naturally with others. With the redesign, the traditional three-line ribbon has been shrunk down to a single line with more pops of color to help command icons better stand out.

Speaking of colors, users will also start to notice new colors and icons across Office apps that are built as scalable graphics meant to both modernize the experience and make it more accessible.

Microsoft wants search to be a much more important element of the user experience. As such, simply placing your cursor in the search box will trigger a “zero query search” with recommendations power by AI and the Microsoft Graph.

The changes won’t happen all at once, but will instead be deployed over the coming months to select customers in stages so Microsoft can gauge user feedback and adjust accordingly. Features will only become generally available once they’ve successfully navigated rigorous rounds of validation and refinement, says Jared Spataro, corporate vice preside for Office and Windows marketing.

The refined ribbon and new colors / icons will first appear in the web version of Word for Office.com. The changes will spill over to select Insiders later this month and into July and August while commercial users can see the new search functions in select products from today.

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BSim500

Posts: 698   +1,465
"It starts with a simplified ribbon that’s meant to help users focus on their work and collaborate naturally with others. With the redesign, the traditional three-line ribbon has been shrunk down to a single line with more pops of color to help command icons better stand out."
Looks at screenshot (link) and sees "File, Home, Insert, Layout, Review, View" menu's underneath which are a single row icon toolbar.

So basically, we've re-upgraded from 2007's ugly space-wasting ribbon back to "it's not Office 2003's Menu + Toolbar with a lick of paint, honest!" UI... I guess this also means tech site "reviews" of LibreOffice's "outdated menu + single row toolbar UI compared to MS's multi-row ribbon" will be quietly changed to "modern" and "futuristic" even though they never dumped the more ergonomic MSO2003 style that everyone preferred in the first place... :D
 

IAMTHESTIG

Posts: 1,868   +900
So animations and color? This is "new"?

Typical Microsoft... Here is your new shiny red ball. Oh by the way, it's still the same ball, we just spray painted it shiny red for you. That'll be $300 now.

In all seriousness the behind-the-scenes improvements for performance are always great, but quit pretending you are giving us what we want. Furthermore, stop removing advanced UI features and customization abilities that didn't bother anyone in the first place. This seems to have been Microsoft's goal over the last five years or so, to destroy the power user and piss off the system administrator.
 
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Kibaruk

Posts: 3,836   +1,183
At least I'm liking the change, but I believe they are focusing more on the "modern (or digital) workplace". O365 Office apps were on this end but still didn't feel as powerful as desktop apps.
 

jobeard

Posts: 13,971   +1,778
Believe the hype if you choose, but every change induces a new license fee - - pause there for a moment and estimate the gross revenue reaped even on a $99 fee!!
 

Kibaruk

Posts: 3,836   +1,183
Believe the hype if you choose, but every change induces a new license fee - - pause there for a moment and estimate the gross revenue reaped even on a $99 fee!!
Well... if you pay for cloud storage, then O365 for home usage pays itself while giving you 1tb of OneDrive storage, plus you are able to use up to 5 accounts (The last time I checked) for what dropbox charges a year. Of course, it will depend on a case by case basis but for most users of the internet it's a great bundle.
 
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psycros

Posts: 3,201   +3,398
"It starts with a simplified ribbon that’s meant to help users focus on their work and collaborate naturally with others. With the redesign, the traditional three-line ribbon has been shrunk down to a single line with more pops of color to help command icons better stand out."
Looks at screenshot (link) and sees "File, Home, Insert, Layout, Review, View" menu's underneath which are a single row icon toolbar.

So basically, we've re-upgraded from 2007's ugly space-wasting ribbon back to "it's not Office 2003's Menu + Toolbar with a lick of paint, honest!" UI... I guess this also means tech site "reviews" of LibreOffice's "outdated menu + single row toolbar UI compared to MS's multi-row ribbon" will be quietly changed to "modern" and "futuristic" even though they never dumped the more ergonomic MSO2003 style that everyone preferred in the first place... :D
Yep..this is what company's do. After a few iterations they create a good product, realize there are no easy improvements left (since back-end coding is harder than UI), so they remove some features and then slowly re-introduce them over time. And charge a bundle for giving you back what you already had.
 
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tipstir

Posts: 2,854   +199
I like when he said it open fast. What sort of CPU did he test it on? Okay the background on MS Office it was based on VB visual basic. 1995, 97 etc.. were buggy as hell. Later version before they got to 360 version were more stable. I really don't want MS Office on my systems. So I am just use WPS that like MS Office 360 kinda have bloat in there. I have to use my external firewall to block the bloat. Every time Windows 10 gets a new update my firewall goes nuts. MS Office needs to be stream-line they have all those UAT trying to make it simple and error free.
 

dob_1

Posts: 76   +42
I always thought Office 2003 had the best interface and this looks like its moving back to the best! Never really liked the ribbon, for most options it just added clicks, although by 2013 you could customize it to include the commands you use most frequently - the ability to customise is fundamental and when Microsoft moved to the ribbon they initially took a lot of that away. I still use 2003 for basic stuff, it's just easier, but 2013 is used for when I need all the special text customisations etc that you can do with the newer version.
 

poohbear

Posts: 495   +371
Believe the hype if you choose, but every change induces a new license fee - - pause there for a moment and estimate the gross revenue reaped even on a $99 fee!!
Well... if you pay for cloud storage, then O365 for home usage pays itself while giving you 1tb of OneDrive storage, plus you are able to use up to 5 accounts (The last time I checked) for what dropbox charges a year. Of course, it will depend on a case by case basis but for most users of the internet it's a great bundle.
and 60 minutes international calling on Skype every month.
 

fadingfool

Posts: 183   +183
I always thought Office 2003 had the best interface and this looks like its moving back to the best! Never really liked the ribbon, for most options it just added clicks, although by 2013 you could customize it to include the commands you use most frequently - the ability to customise is fundamental and when Microsoft moved to the ribbon they initially took a lot of that away. I still use 2003 for basic stuff, it's just easier, but 2013 is used for when I need all the special text customisations etc that you can do with the newer version.
If Excel 2003 was 64 bit and had the same number of cells available as 2007 I would never have upgraded. The extra size was welcome the f'ing ribbon was not.
 
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B

bas416

"It starts with a simplified ribbon that’s meant to help users focus on their work and collaborate naturally with others. With the redesign, the traditional three-line ribbon has been shrunk down to a single line with more pops of color to help command icons better stand out."
Looks at screenshot (link) and sees "File, Home, Insert, Layout, Review, View" menu's underneath which are a single row icon toolbar.

So basically, we've re-upgraded from 2007's ugly space-wasting ribbon back to "it's not Office 2003's Menu + Toolbar with a lick of paint, honest!" UI... I guess this also means tech site "reviews" of LibreOffice's "outdated menu + single row toolbar UI compared to MS's multi-row ribbon" will be quietly changed to "modern" and "futuristic" even though they never dumped the more ergonomic MSO2003 style that everyone preferred in the first place... :D
Nothing will come close to 2003's UI, that was simply perfect. If ain't broke don't fix it.
 

Kibaruk

Posts: 3,836   +1,183
Yes, there are those that do not worship in the temple at Redmond, WA. Not only are there other products but also other systems available -- shocking isn't it.
Yeah cause, if you ain't one of us you are one of 'em. Beautiful.
 

BadThad

Posts: 309   +232
MSO 2003 was nearly perfect. The Excel 2003 UI is the best - as a heavy Excel user I've rejected the ribbon since day one. MSO 2003 runs great on modern systems and does everything I need it to do.
 
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IAMTHESTIG

Posts: 1,868   +900
MSO 2003 was nearly perfect. The Excel 2003 UI is the best - as a heavy Excel user I've rejected the ribbon since day one. MSO 2003 runs great on modern systems and does everything I need it to do.
Perhaps, but it's not as shiny!!! And we want shiny! And sparkles!
 

Dustyn

Posts: 114   +46
If you really want to simplify Office.... Go back and look at your Office software portfolio from decades ago. Office 97 and Office 2000 are fine examples of what Office should be like. No *****ic "ribben" garbage that aims to "simplify" the "user experience".... -.-
 
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What? Redesigning it again - don't they ever get it right first time?
I don't want simplified I want customflied...able.