Microsoft Starts Rolling Out New Office Online UI

Posted on September 4, 2018 by Mehedi Hassan in Office 365 with 3 Comments

Microsoft seems to be rolling out a new design for Office Online apps. The updated design doesn’t bring major changes, but it gives a new look to a critical part of Office apps: the ribbon.

In June, Redmond announced it will introduce a modern, simplified ribbon design for Office online apps. The company is introducing the same design on Office desktop apps, though that’s still in testing with Insiders. Microsoft now seems to be rolling out the new design to more Office Online users, at least in the United States (thanks for the tip, Issac). Apps like Word Online and OneNote Online now have a redesigned ribbon, with a “simplified ribbon” toggle that you can disable to get the classic ribbon back.

But here’s the thing: the rollout is a little weird.

Microsoft seems to be toying with two different versions of the simplified ribbon. On the picture above, for example, Word Online has the more modern looking UI for the ribbon, while PowerPoint Online and Word Online below has a different, slightly modern ribbon UI. The former is the simplified ribbon Microsoft announced back in June, though the latter isn’t too different either:

It’s more than possible Microsoft is trying out these two different versions to see which one works better for users, so we can’t really tell what the final ribbon will end up looking like after the test is done. Adding to that, the new simplified ribbon isn’t available across all Office Online apps either — some people I have contacted have it on Word and PowerPoint, while others are only seeing it on OneNote or PowerPoint, etc.

After all, this is a slow rollout — so we really just have to wait and see how Microsoft proceeds with the testing here.

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Comments (3)

3 responses to “Microsoft Starts Rolling Out New Office Online UI”

  1. hrlngrv

    Interesting that Excel Online seems to lack this. Perhaps MSFT is realizing that unlike Word, PowerPoint and Outlook, Excel suffers from hiding too many of its features. It'd be a refreshing change if MSFT finally accepted that what may be good for the rest of Office may not be good for Excel. (Or Access, but it's not standard.)

  2. MikeGalos

    So they're doing A/B testing on a beta UI on a web based system. That's hardly "a little weird". In fact, it's pretty much universal practice and has been for well over a decade.

  3. tdemerse

    Toolbars are back! And to think I spend so much time fondly remembering the days of my youth spent trolling through the 187 thousand office toolbars.

    What's old is new again!