MICROSOFT HAS UNVEILED a new version of its Office suite user interface, all ready for the imminent release of Office 2019.
The main change is a long-overdue simplification of the ‘ribbon' interface which has been overhauled for web-based services such as Office 365 and Office.com.
The default is now a scaled-down ribbon with only the most commonly-used tasks shown as buttons on a single line. 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.
For those who type for a living, prepare for a certain adjustment process. You type more subconsciously that you think and it won't take much to really confuse you - like the 'bold' toggle being moved a few millimetres to the right or something.
But for those who actually bother to look at the screen as they work, there's good news, especially if you need a bit of extra help. The icons have been given better contrast and crisper definition to make them easier to see. That bit is definitely coming to everything, with Windows Excel and PowerPoint for Windows rolling out soon, Outlook will get them next month and finally, the Mac editions will fall into line in August.
Engadget reports that the Microsoft Graph is also powering a new search function where using its machine learning smarts, it will start suggesting search terms as soon as you point the cursor at the search box. That's kicking off in August for Outlook users - all of them regardless of which version. It may disturb you at first.
Changes will arrive on Office.com starting immediately, with Outlook Insiders who are blessed appropriately will take part in a limited rollout in July. No plans are in place for the rest of the Office ecosystem, but we'd place a small side-wager on it happening to coincide with Office 2019. In all cases, the old ribbon won't disappear, but it won't be default anymore.
Microsoft has confirmed that Office 2019 for Windows will only work with Windows 10 machines. µ
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