The update also includes icons that scale better with screen size and a more prominent Search feature in the Office applications.
The changes are based on a "Three Cs" - customers, context and control - principle, created to focus on the features people use most and making it easier to access them.
There's a simplified version of the Office Ribbon, which allows users to collapse it so it takes up less space and hides many options, or keep it expanded into the current three-line view.
Over the next few months, Outlook, Word and other cornerstone Office applications will feature some revamped interface elements meant to help users get the most out of the productivity software suite from Microsoft.
The commercial preview of Microsoft Office 2019 for Mac includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote and it delivers new features to both end users and IT department. The changes will spill over to select Insiders later this month and into July and August while commercial users can see the new search functions in select products from today.
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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.
The updates will be exclusive to Office.com and Office 365 versions of Microsoft's popular productivity software. Users will be able to place their cursor over the search box and Microsoft's AI and Graph will offer recommendations.
Later in June, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for Windows will get the new colours and icons, with Outlook for Windows and Mac getting them in August. This is clearly the case on the Office.com landing page, where the app buttons use shadow and depth to highlight what's under the mouse, but I didn't see any Fluent influence in screenshots and videos of the actual program windows, aside from animations that happen when you hover the mouse over top menus.
The final release of Office 2019 for Mac will ship alongside Office 2019 for Windows in the second half of 2018. Microsoft has been testing the simplified Ribbon with 30 large Office 365 customers and has been flighting changes to users there to see how they would be accepted, Friedman said. It comes with new features across Office apps like Powerpoint and Word.