Office Mobile Goes Fluent on Windows 10 Insider Preview

Posted on July 19, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Android, iOS, Mobile, Office, Office 365, Windows 10 with 30 Comments

Office Mobile Goes Fluent on Windows 10 Insider Preview

The core Office Mobile apps for Windows 10—Word, Excel, and PowerPoint—are being updated to support the Fluent Design System’s Acrylic material translucency effects. This gives them a more modern and consistent look on Windows 10. But it makes me wonder whether it makes sense to bring this user experience to Android and iOS as well.

To get the new versions of the apps, you must be running the Windows 10 Insider Preview. When are doing so, you will see version 17.8414.10001.0 of the apps. On the shipping version of Windows 10 (Creators Update and older), you get version 17.8269.47711.0. Today, anyway.

Functionally, the apps are probably mostly identical, though I haven’t really checked. But there is that one obvious difference: The versions on the Insider Preview, running pre-release versions of what will be the Fall Creators Update, feature an Acrylic material translucency effect. It’s most obvious on the Start page, where you can see the background bleeding through in the Recent pane on the left.

By comparison, this pane is opaque in the shipping version of Windows 10.

So this is mildly interesting. But I’m curious whether Microsoft intends to bring this effect, and other Fluent flourishes to its Office Mobile apps, and other mobile apps, on Android and iOS. There are good reasons to do so. And good reasons not to.

The central issue here is what makes more sense: For Office Mobile to be consistent with itself and other Microsoft experiences across devices. Or for Office Mobile—and other Microsoft mobile apps—to be more consistent with the underlying platform.

I guess I would argue for the latter. That Office Mobile adopts the Fluent Design System on Windows 10 because that is what makes it more consistent on that platform. And that Office Mobile look and feel like native Android or iOS apps on those platforms. But you could make an argument for either choice.

More relevant, perhaps, is how long it will take Microsoft to actually make these Fluent design changes seem consistent on Windows 10 itself.

As you may know, Microsoft intends to rollout this change over time, and to evolve it based on user feedback. This suggests we’re in for tons of inconsistencies in the months ahead, because some apps and experiences will have Fluent effects, and some will not. And that Microsoft doesn’t really have a clear vision for what Fluent is, as the design itself will change over time.

So we’ll see what happens. Job One, I think, is to get the core Windows 10 user experiences updated in time for the Fall Creators Update. Anyone care to bet on whether that happens?

 

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