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Get a sneak peek at Microsoft Office’s new look

Would you believe that Microsoft Office has been a thing since 1988? First announced by Bill Gates back then, it was mostly just a marketing term for a bundle that included Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

It not only became wildly popular, but has grown significantly over time. Along with those three programs, Office includes other programs like Access, Outlook, OneNote, Publisher and Skype for Business — among others — and can be run on PC, Mac, iOS and Android.

More functional than flashy, Office has long been one of the very best options when it comes to business and students alike. But just because it doesn’t have to look nice does not mean Microsoft will not try, which is where their new update comes in.

Time to freshen up

A video released Wednesday shows Microsoft is changing the user interface for apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. The new look will be similar to what we have seen with the Fluent Design System that Microsoft unveiled last year and will arrive over the next few months.

Nothing has been officially announced, but the video is pretty informative.

Fluent Design is meant for building user interfaces that appear to be lighter, with layers, depth and animations. In the case of Office, there will be three major changes.

The most noticeable is a simplified ribbon, the bar at the top of the screen that houses buttons and features for you to choose from. The ribbon entered our lives in Office 2007 and though cluttered, most of us got used to it.

Now it will be slimmed down, leaving just a single line that promotes only the most important features. Anyone who wants a more familiar ribbon can still expand the default one and get the older style, however.

The updated Ribbon is available for the web version of Word for now, though Office Insiders will be able to see it in Outlook for Windows in July. A broader release is still a bit away.

There will also be new colors and icons, all of which will make it into Office very soon. The online version of Word at will receive them first, with an Insider release for Word, Excel and PowerPoint following later this month.

They will come to Outlook for Windows in July and Outlook for Mac in August.

A third new feature has to do with the user experience, as Microsoft is introducing what it calls “zero query search.” Essentially, it is an AI and Microsoft Graph-powered search box that will provide recommendations every time you place your cursor over it.

Already live in, SharePoint Online and the Outlook mobile app, the zero query search will make it to Outlook on the web in August.

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