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

The tech giant also made its Office icons easier to see.
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Microsoft has given its infamous Office ribbon a much simpler, much less cluttered look as part of its interface redesign for Office.com and Office 365 applications. The tech giant updated the element to only show the most basic options -- if you need any of the commands the redesign hides, though, you can always expand it to go back to its more familiar 3-line predecessor and make sure you can quickly accomplish your tasks.

While the updated ribbon will eventually roll out to all Office apps, Microsoft knows the sudden change can impact your work. That's why it's taking things slow: the redesigned version is making its way to Word on Office.com today, and then to Outlook for select Insiders in July. It doesn't have a schedule for the rest of the Office apps just yet.

Since people tend to rely on muscle memory for Excel and Powerpoint, those two aren't getting the redesign anytime soon. Word on Windows will also have to wait as Microsoft collects feedback from a broader set of users. The tech giant assures, however, that you can still go back to the old ribbon after the new one arrives on those applications.

In addition, Microsoft has also redesigned its icons for the sake of those with low visibility. It cranked up their contrast and made them crisper and sharper in order to prevent them from blending into the background. Like the new ribbon, these more visible icons will also make their debut in the web version of Word at Office.com. They'll then make make their way to Word, Excel and PowerPoint for Windows later this month, to Outlook for Windows in July and then to Outlook for Mac in August.

Finally, Microsoft is turning Search into a more powerful tool. It can now bring up recommendations powered as soon as you place the cursor in the box, based on what its AI and the Microsoft Graph knows about your habits. 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.

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