I don’t know what’s in the water in Redmond, but Microsoft’s Office 365 group has been pumping out updates like there’s no tomorrow all year. And the latest change is one that will impact how many users interact with the service.
“As we continue to expand the great set of online productivity tools available to Office 365 users, we are committed to improving the experience that ties these services together,” the Office 365 team explains in a new post to the Office Blogs. “Today, we’re announcing a new version of the Office 365 App Launcher, which will provide improved discoverability to new and recently used apps, additional customization options and search across all the services and applications you use in the Microsoft Cloud.”
The Office 365 App Launcher (for commercial subscribers) is the UI that appears when you click the Menu button in the upper-left of the Office 365 web interface. Today, it looks much like the similar pop-up you see in Outlook.com and OneDrive for consumers, it’s a grid of app tiles.
The new Office 365 App Launcher will debut later this month for businesses that have opted into the First Release program. Everyone else will get it in October. And it offers a number of changes and enhancements over the previous version.
First and most obviously, the new App Launcher has a more vertical look, where the previous version was square and the consumer version today is horizontal.
But the new App Launcher isn’t just oriented differently. It’s now customizable, much like the Windows 10 Start menu, so you can rearrange tiles on the default Home view, and customize it as needed.
The new App Launcher also provides a tabbed interface with two other views, New and All. New naturally highlights newly-added Office 365 apps, a must in this age of rapid release. And All works like All Apps in the Windows Start menu: Here, you can see all of your available Office 365 apps.
Microsoft notes, too, that the new App Launcher will fully support whatever theme you’ve applied to Office 365, further customizing the experience.
Finally, as part of this change, you can now pin up to three apps to the right side of the Office 365 navigation bar. So that works much like the taskbar, I suppose.
There’s more coming, too: A future update will let you access recent Word