Microsoft has started the rollout of its Office Online UI shift, bringing a new design to the suite’s well-known ribbon. The change was first announced by Microsoft in June and will be present in all of the online apps, but the implementation is currently all over the place.

According to Thurrott, some US users are seeing the new UI in Word and PowerPoint Online, while others are only seeing it in OneNote and PowerPoint. On top of that, some users are seeing a different UI to the one announced previously.

In its blog post, Microsoft showed a ribbon that was thinner but kept a completely grey layout. In the other version, the ‘File, Home, Insert…’ menu takes the color of the application and has rounded white tabs for the active selection.

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The alternative ribbon version | Source: Thurrott

Keeping Up With Competitors

WinBuzzer wasn’t able to access any of the UI changes, despite setting the language to English (US) and using a VPN to spoof a US connection. It seems the rollout is very limited at the moment, and the multiple UI versions suggest Microsoft is still testing.

In general, though, this will provide fewer distractions without compromising much productivity. Previously, the combination of browser tabs, the thick Office Online banner, and the ribbon took up a significant amount of space.

It’s now looking a lot closer to competitors like G Suite, which has always taken a more minimal approach. Users who don’t like the change will be able to toggle it if they wish, so there’s no big loss.

It will be interesting to see which version ends up being the final one, or if it will be different entirely. Personally, I think the colored tabs draw the eye straight to the important formatting elements.

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