Microsoft's Office UI update includes a simpler, cleaner ribbon

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Taking minimalism to a new level, the icons use a scalable graphics technique to improve accessibility and appear crisp on-screen, Spataro said.

The changes are based on a "Three Cs" - customers, context and control - principle, created to focus on the features people use most and making it easier to access them.

The most recent version of Office is Microsoft Office 2016, which was actually released in 2015.

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Office 2019 suite includes a new roaming pencil case and ribbon customization, a new focus mode in Word, in-click sequence, Morph transitions, 4K video export in PowerPoint, focused inbox in Outlook, and more. Users can also still expand the ribbon back to the classic three-line view if they see the need.

Microsoft will redesign its software-as-a-service Office.com and Office 365 productivity suites over coming months, with select customers being given access to new features for testing, validation and refinement.

The changes fit in with Microsoft's overarching Fluent Design language, which can be found across most parts of Windows 10.

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July: Microsoft adds Outlook for Windows to the Insider test. They'll hit Word on the Web first, followed by Word, Excel, and PowerPoint on the desktop later this month.

Microsoft also explained in its blog, "Office 2019 for Mac also includes features for IT that will help simplify deployment and management".

Microsoft today highlighted some upcoming changes for the Office 365 user interface. And almost two months later, the company is back with another important announcement about the Office 2019. You can see the evolution of Microsoft Office icons over the years in the image below. Users should also expect a "zero query search" when hovering over the search box, powered by AI and the Microsoft Graph. Microsoft is now making it so the search functionality can provide access to commands, content, and people. It doesn't have a schedule for the rest of the Office apps just yet. That may sound like old news for some commercial users who can already see the behavior, but it's still bound to surprise some people when it rolls out to all commercial users of Outlook on the web in August. A rollout for Outlook for Windows is planned for July, along with Outlook for Mac in August.

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Microsoft isn't the only technology giant that has been brushing up the interfaces of some of its most popular products.

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