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The ways we get things done are evolving alongside technology. We have found ways to be more collaborative, and more efficient, and the boundaries of time and place are becoming quite blurred. Customers continue to rely on Office for the important work because they have faith in the power of the Office apps. There is a breadth and depth to the features, unmatched in the most competitive of industries due to the unique capabilities they have to offer.
But where Office really shines is in its ability to adapt to the changing environment, and Microsoft Office 365 has listened to the call from its customers for the user experience to be simplified and its powers more accessible. So they have recently announced updates to the user experience for Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote and Outlook; updates which will roll out gradually, and will cater for the new culture of work, balancing power and simplicity.
Office has more than a billion monthly users, so it is important that these new changes are done the right way. Microsoft based the changes on the principles of "The Three Cs":
✔ Customers - A customer-driven process of innovation was used to redesign the Office apps. It involved customer research and analysis, concepting and co-creation, and validation and refinement.
✔ Context - Although customers love the power of Office, they don't need every feature at once. The new designs will understand the context of your work, so you can focus on getting the job done with the most relevant commands and collaborating with others seamlessly.
✔ Control - Every user has their own preferred way to work, so the user interface can be customised.
The new updates, exclusive to Office.com and Office 365, won't all happen at once. They will roll out over the next few months, allowing Microsoft to test and learn in order to optimise everything for the final release of updates. The first set of updates will be as follows:
The new version of ribbon has been developed to enable users to focus and collaborate with greater ease. It will take up less screen space, and will start appearing first on Word before arriving on Windows a little later. The plan is to be less liberal with the changes in Word, Excel and PowerPoint for Windows as people are very familiar working with them as they are. Therefore, the simplified ribbon won't come to them until there has been feedback from Office.com and Office 365 users.
New colours and icons
You will start to see new icons and colours across the apps as scalable graphics; they will thus render with clean, precise lines on all types of screens. They are intended to modernise the user experience and improve accessibility. These changes will first hit the web version of Word before later arriving on Office for Windows.
Searching is set to become a core element of the user experience, delivering access to content, commands and people. "Zero query search" will offer you AI-powered recommendations as soon as you place the cursor in the search box. Commercial users will be the first to see this in Office.com, SharePoint Online and the Outlook app.
The new designs were developed by working closely with Microsoft customers, collecting vast amounts of data on how people use the apps and building on prototypes. Feedback will be closely monitored as the changes roll out, and gradually the new designs will be optimised.
Technology is changing the way we work, and research into these changes is what's driving the push for balancing power and simplicity. The true power of the Office experience is set to become more accessible to everyone.
Want to find out more about Microsoft Office 365 and its benefits? Why not download our free all-you-need-to-know guide, Office 365: The Definitive Guide, here.
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