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Microsoft has announced that it's giving its flagship Office suite a makeover created to deliver a balance of "power and simplicity".

The new Ribbon will have just one row of icons, which were redesigned to be scalable not only for a sharper, more modern appearance, but also help with accessibility.

Microsoft is also making Search more powerful by adding artificial intelligence to the backend. Users should also expect a "zero query search" when hovering over the search box, powered by AI and the Microsoft Graph. Microsoft will roll out this experience to the web version of Word first and will start to roll out to select consumer users today on Office.com. The firm explained that users have muscle memory with the current ribbon, and it doesn't want to disrupt their work flow, so it will be careful in how this is implemented across those apps. Like the simplified ribbon, the new colors and icons will first appear in the web version of Word.

Updates include the roaming pencil case and ribbon customizations across Office apps; focus mode in Word; Morph transitions, in-click sequence, and 4k video export in PowerPoint; new charts and functions in Excel; and focused inbox in Outlook.

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The new icons are meant to render more crisply and cleanly on screens of any size and to look better for those with vision impairments.now there are more than 10,000 different icons in Office, Friedman noted, and Microsoft wanted to make them more consistent and accessible from the get-go, using color, contrast and other design elements.

Search will become more prominent with Microsoft saying it "will become a much more important element of the user experience, providing access to commands, content, and people". In July, they'll be added to Outlook for Windows, and in August, Outlook for Mac.

Microsoft on Wednesday announced a series of changes in store for its Office suite of productivity applications. Once Microsoft collects feedback from those users, it will roll out the changes to everyone else. This feature is already available for commercial users in Office.com, SharePoint Online, and the Outlook mobile.

Microsoft said in a blog post published today that it's refreshing Office 365 apps, including Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint, in part so that they're more accessible for users with disabilities.


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