Shortly after Microsoft made Windows 11 available through the Insiders Program, they announced that Microsoft Office apps would be getting a “visual refresh.”
Microsoft shifts to something called Fluid Design Principles† This is a set of four principles that Microsoft believes will “…navigate the nexus of timeless needs and current reality.” as head of Microsoft Office Design, writes Jon Friedman.
The four principles are design for focus, amplification, connection and protection or peace of mind. These may sound like light-hearted marketing terms, but they do translate into practical properties.
If you’re not part of the Microsoft Insiders program, Office won’t change for a while. Likewise, if you don’t use Office 365 or Microsoft 365, nothing changes at all. However, few people are fans of change, so let’s get ready for what’s to come.
1. How to enable or disable the new office design?
If you’re part of the Office Insiders program but aren’t ready for the new experience yet, you can easily toggle it on and off.
- Select the What’s new icon in the top right corner of the window.
- Scroll down in the Available soon pane to the Try the new experience slider. Select the slider to turn it off.
- The warning box tells you that you need to restart the app for the change to take effect. No need to reboot the device; you just need to restart the app. Select Okay to clear the warning.
Note in the Available soon window that the slider is now in the off position. Close the app, reopen it and the new experience will be gone.
In the current version, the Coming Soon feature is only available in Word† Excel† Outlook† Power Pointand A note† However, the new experience cannot be turned on and off through Outlook. Otherwise, changing the setting in one app will affect the experience in all other apps.
2. Standard Collapsed Ribbon
When opening the redesigned Office apps, the Office ribbon collapses and only the tabs are displayed. To display the ribbon permanently, select the Vision tab. The ribbon will appear. Select the down arrow on the far right of the ribbon and choose Always show ribbon†
3. Full screen mode
One option is to choose Full screen mode† We can of course see how this increases focus. To exit full screen, select the three-dot menu and return to the Show ribbon menu. Then select Full screen mode again to turn it off.
4 – Show Quick Access Toolbar
The Quick Access Toolbar is already in the current Office and is by default in the top left area of the current Office apps. Commands can be added and removed from it, as well as scrolled below the ribbon.
The new Quick Access Toolbar is hidden by default. However, using the Show Ribbon menu, it can be revealed by selecting Show Quick Access Toolbar in the Ribbon Display Options menu.
The new Quick Access Toolbar can be moved above and below the Ribbon, and commands can be added and removed. The Save and Auto save commands remain in the title bar when the new toolbar moves below the ribbon.
The command labels can also be removed, making for a cleaner, more focused experience.
5. Matching Windows and Office Themes
In current Office, the theme does not automatically match the Windows theme. When you refresh, Office automatically matches the Windows theme you choose. This eliminates the visual shock of jumping out of the Windows theme and into another theme in Office.
It seems that Microsoft is making Office an extension of Windows rather than an app that runs on Windows.
6. Collaboration Presence Indicators
When editing a shared document, do you wonder if someone else is making changes at the same time? In the revamped version, there are presence indicators in the top right corner that stand out. There will also be indicators in the document where employees make changes so you know what they are working on.
7. 64-bit ARM version
Using Office on tablets, phones, and other portable devices meant using the Android, iOS, or web versions. That’s not bad, but those versions can be underpowered and feel very different from the desktop version.
Microsoft has announced that they are going to provide the updated version of Office with a 64-bit ARM installation package for Windows 11. devices.
8. Styling Changes
The rest of the changes are simple but eye-pleasing style changes. The rounded corner style of Windows 11 is now carried over to Office.
You will also notice that scroll bars and other screen positioning icons are more noticeable.
What other changes are there?
This is just the example of Microsoft Office’s visual refresh. Now, if you’re using the Microsoft 365 suite, you know that changes can happen quickly and you may not know they’re coming.
Expect rapid changes to continue as Microsoft continues to turn Office into a software-as-a-service or Saas. Because the scope of the Fluid Design Principles is so vast, we probably won’t see any changes to Office until Windows 11 and the redesigned Office is released publicly.