Microsoft Highlights a Coming Update to Office 365 Web Experience

Posted on September 14, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Office 365 with 10 Comments

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 The longstanding tiles have been replaced by sleeker and fewer icons, and you can now access your recent documents here as well.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.)

Looks great.


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Comments (10)

10 responses to “Microsoft Highlights a Coming Update to Office 365 Web Experience”

  1. Waethorn more "Live" Tiles anymore?


    • rmlounsbury

      In reply to Waethorn:

      Problem with live tiles is pretty much any legacy desktop app doesn't support them in my experience (do you need the app the be UWP for live tiles?) and if the legacy desktop applications don't do live tiles it is pretty worthless. That or you need developers to start developing UWP apps which isn't really happening either.

      I'd guess most developers will skip UWP and go towards progressive web apps where it can be done.

  2. coldunn

    Do you know if you can add an iCloud calendar to the web experience Outlook? I can to the windows app but not

  3. woelfel

    Would be interesting if they make a PWA out of the portal...and put it in the store.

  4. Waethorn

    If anybody thinks Live Tiles aren't dead, ask yourself this: where are the interactive tiles and desktop Gadget-style tiles Microsoft showed off a few years ago?