Microsoft Delays Preview of Office Visual Refresh

Posted on July 4, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft 365, Office, Windows 10, Windows 11 with 24 Comments

One week ago, Microsoft said that it would release the first preview version of its Office Visual Refresh for Windows 11. But that release never happened. And now Microsoft says we’ll have to wait for next week.

“We apologize for the delay in making this much anticipated visual refresh available to you,” a note that was quietly added to Microsoft’s original announcement reads. “We expect to release a new build with this update next week.”

The Office Visual Refresh requires you to enroll Office on your PC in the Office Insider Program’s Beta channel, which is done by navigating to File > Account > Office Insider. According to the original post, the refresh would arrive with a new build that week. But when the build arrived, no one could figure out how to enable the refresh. Now, at least, we know why.

The Office visual refresh will be available on both Windows 10 and the Windows 11 Insider Preview and it will eventually provide us with our first look at an Office UX that was reimagined for the more natural and customizable Windows 11 user interface. One of the options will allow Office to automatically match the Windows 11 theme, but Microsoft says that the update provides “a more natural and consistent experience” and “an intuitive, coherent, and familiar user interface” that was built using its Fluent Design principles.

The waiting game continues.

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Comments (24)

24 responses to “Microsoft Delays Preview of Office Visual Refresh”

  1. Alastair Cooper

    So this is why it was behind a greyed-out toggle.

  2. wright_is

    The new look landed this morning on my PC.

  3. lionbites

    Office beta released - Version 2108 Build 14301.20004

  4. ekim

    I guess its too much to ask that rather than a visual refresh that they fix some really long standing bugs like Outlook still putting a new mail notification icon in the taskbar notification area when the only "new" message is spam. Or how about the bug that prevents moving or deleting a mail item because "it changed" (was read) until you click on another item then click back to the item you want to move/delete? Or the edit box in the signatures dialog that can't be scrolled with the mouse wheel only the vertical scroll bar?

    I have dozens more but these issues have been known to Microsoft for a long time. The new mail notification icon on spam has been there since at least 2003!

  5. ralfred

    I'm pretty sure Microsoft is working on a bug introduced in 14226. People in beta channel got 14226, but after a few days people got rolled back to 14217. Apparently it was a bug that could make Outlook prevent other Office programs from running - I've only read a single comment on Reddit about this and haven't experienced that myself, so I don't know how true it is.

    The visual update comes in 14228.

    • Alastair Cooper

      My laptop got updated to 14228 but it's still greyed out when I try to turn it on. I actually messed around with drivers etc before I read this, thinking it was maybe a DirectX issue or similar.

  6. flying_maverick

    I wonder if we will see an update for OneNote? Still a disaster with the old OneNote being resurrected from the Dead. I tried to use it compared to OneNote for Windows 10 and what mess. I really wish they would evolve the OneNote for Windows 1x as this is by far a better experience. Even the web version of OneNote follows the OneNote for Windows 10 design.

  7. jlmerrill

    When does their week start? Sunday or Monday? I guess if it's Monday we ought to see it this week, no?

  8. casaout

    Looking at the screenshots, I wonder when Microsoft is planning to roll-out the non-ribbon design? Didn't they announce that they want to simplify the UI with a simpler system bar, like they did with Outlook (on Windows) or the Office Online suite?

  9. rd.bean

    Getting the latest non-visual insider on ARM64 was relatively easy but of course, lacking in actual documentation....

  10. waethorn

    Whatever happened with the idea of mainlining the simplified (read: limited) single-line toolbar that’s part of the new Outlook UI and the mobile versions of Office? Did they finally realize that telemetry-based UI designs don’t really pass stress tests with actual users?

    Also, at what point are shareholders going to realize that the biggest software company in the world with one of the biggest cloud presences online, who already has massive numbers of remote workers, can’t keep using pandemic shutdowns as excuses for production delays?

    • lvthunder

      Who said they were using COVID as an excuse? I would rather them miss a date by a week or so if that means we get better software. I would hate for them to release something just because of the date and not when it is ready.

    • hrlngrv

      The simplified ribbon is apparently only for Office web apps, and, annoyingly, that's what's shown when 'minimizing' the ribbon. No longer any way to hide everything but the tab names. Then again, the web apps lack QATs, so maybe OK.

      • ianhead

        The Outlook desktop app does have support for the simplified ribbon. They'd promised it for the other desktop apps but it never eventuated.

  11. cnc123

    This screenshot doesn't look any different except for making all of the title bar colors the same, which is detriment to task switching and not a benefit.

  12. geoffeff

    Ah, that explains it - well, it's only one more week.

  13. ianhead

    Interestingly, even without the new look enabled, the latest beta build does still introduce some visual changes. The window borders/drop shadows are now drawn by DWM, like most apps handle it, rather than the apps providing their own custom ones. Also means the apps are sporting rounded corners in Windows 11 like everything else does. That change alone makes the apps feel a lot more responsive when moving their windows around on the screen and much more native to the OS than they felt before.

  14. jimchamplin

    Wait… wait…

    Now that 11 has shown the post-Fluent design aesthetic, Office gets updated with… Fluent.

    • Usman

      Windows 11 is fluent design.

      Fluent OG back in 2017 basically died straight away.

      The office team were working on Office Fabric, which is used alongside all of office 365.

      They rebooted 'fluent design' by renaming office fabric and having the office design team take over

  15. JH_Radio

    You'd think rather than just add to a blog they'd flat out make it easier and learn to communicate better. But this is Microsoft, too.

  16. dougkinzinger

    Just got the new look. Thank goodness they decided to keep some of the color options, blue for Word, green for Excel, and so on.