Microsoft this week began highlighting a coming update to the Office 365 web experience for commercial customers. The Office 365 app launcher is being completely redesigned.
The new app launcher will be rolling out to customers “over the next couple months,” Microsoft says. But the firm is alerting us to the change now so we can prepare.
“The new app launcher is personalized and will help users open and switch between the apps they use most,” a Microsoft support document notes. “The apps users see are still based on the licenses their admin has assigned. However, the redesigned main view now emphasizes the most used applications across Office 365. It also highlights additional apps relevant to your users. For example, teachers and students may see education-specific apps.”
This isn’t the first time that Microsoft has changed the app launcher. The original version was horizontal in design, and stretched across the width of the browser window. Then, Microsoft switched to a boxier design. In September 2016, the app launcher was redesigned, again, to be more vertically oriented and more customizable.
This time around, the app launcher is getting simpler and more efficient, and, I think, more attraction and professional looking. The longstanding tiles have been replaced by sleeker and fewer icons, and you can now access your recent documents here as well.
The customization options here look sleek—for both admins and end users—and Office 365 will try to auto-populate the apps list with icons that are relevant to the user from the beginning. In other words, not everyone will see the same stuff.
One interesting side-item of note: The previously separate Mail, People, Calendar, and Tasks tiles have been consolidated into a single Outlook icon. When selected, you will navigate to the inbox view, and you can switch to People, Calendar or Tasks from switcher in the lower left of window, just as you do on the desktop. (But you can still pin Calendar, People or Tasks to the new app launcher if you prefer that.)