Microsoft is introducing an interface overhaul for Office 2019, intended to simplify the ‘ribbon' interface.
The removal of clutter will pare back it back to the essentials, with the option of reverting to the more familiar, full featured interface for power users.
The interface redesign is already being introduced to Word on Office.com, and will be progressively rolled out across the Office and Office 365 estate throughout the year. At the same time, Microsoft is also introducing updated icons, intended to make them clearer.
And on top of that, Microsoft claims that it will be injecting the search tool with some artificial intelligence magic that, it says, can make suggestions based on what it has learnt about your habits as a user. This will be coming first to Microsoft Graph, but should reach Outlook users by August.
As part of the ‘forced march' to Windows 10, the packaged software version of Office 2019 will only be available on Windows 10, out of all Microsoft's client operating systems, as well as MacOS and Windows Server 2016. Furthermore, support has been slashed from 10 years to five years, with only two years of ‘extended support'.
The interface changes will no doubt surprise users when it arrives, but not nearly as much as they did when it was introduced just over ten years ago.
The Fluent User Interface, as Microsoft called the ribbon interface, was introduced with Microsoft Office 2007, appearing first on Word, Excel, Access and PowerPoint. The ribbon interface aesthetic was rolled out to further Office applications with Office 2010, and also progressively implemented across Microsoft's software estate.
Microsoft claimed that the purpose was to make its applications' features many features more visible to users.
Cynics, however, suggested that the real aim was to get customers hooked on an alternative interface that couldn't easily be copied by open source and other rivals, with Microsoft patenting many elements of its Fluent UI.
In February this year, the company won a patent infringement lawsuit against Corel Corporation, the Canadian software company company responsible for WordPerfect Office X9, a rival to Microsoft Office, as well as Corel Draw.
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