New Menu Design Coming to Office

Microsoft’s ribbon interface in Office was highly criticized when it debuted in Office 2007, creating an industry around programs to revert back to old-style menus. Ten years later, the ribbon still alive and kicking, but Microsoft is going to be making some changes to the ribbon, making it less like a ribbon, more like a toolbar. Check out the new interface they’re going to moving to in the video below:

If you’re a user of the OneNote for Windows 10 desktop app (the new one, not OneNote 2016), you’re already familiar with this slightly different menu structure as that’s what is in-use there. You can compare the before and after menu screenshots on Paul Thurrott’s site.

You can read the rough timeline and some more information on Microsoft’s blog post. Not that it’s not something that’s going to happen super quick since it’s been so long since the last change:

Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for Windows offer our deepest, richest feature set—and they’re the preferred experience for users who want to get the most from our apps. Users have a lot of “muscle memory” built around these versions, so we plan on being especially careful with changes that could disrupt their work. We aren’t ready to bring the simplified ribbon to these versions yet because we feel like we need more feedback from a broader set of users first. But when we do, users will always be able to revert back to the classic ribbon with one click.

Notice he said “when,” not “if.” So the changes will be coming, but it appears that you’ll at least be able to revert back if need be.

That being said, I think this is a good step forward, personally. I like the OneNote for Windows 10 menus and I’m all about getting as much screen real estate for whatever I’m actually working on, not having it be taken up by a bunch of menus. What are your thoughts? Comment below.

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    • Mathieu Federspiel
      July 10, 2018 at 5:09 PM

      I agree, devote most screen space to the piece being worked on. And design for the wide variety of screen sizes still in use. (Note that the video shows only large, high-res screen shots.)

      So over time, Microsoft went from a “menu” to a “ribbon” and now is heading back to a “menu”. I wonder if it will be customizable (add/remove items) and if so if those changes which could would be across applications?

      The video promotes animations as a good thing, but do not find them beneficial to my work, and they take resources. It also highlighted the “shadow and depth” on icons in Office 365, but if this is a good feature, why in Windows 10 are the application windows only vaguely bordered by a thin blue line, making the visual distinction between window content and background hard?

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