(CNN Business) – Microsoft is redesigning Office to look more like Windows 11.
Gone are the flat, bold colors on the Office app’s command ribbons: forest green for Excel, deep blue for Word, burnt orange for PowerPoint, etc. They will be replaced by a neutral gray color, Microsoft announced in a blog post.
By removing the colors from the toolbar that have differentiated the Office applications since 2016, Microsoft is giving Office a cleaner look which makes it look more like a natural extension of the Windows operating system. Rounded corners and more consistent design perfectly match the “pane of glass” look of Windows 11.
By connecting Office and Windows further, the Office theme will match the Windows theme by default. So if you have Windows set to a dark shade, you won’t be blinded by a bright white screen in the middle of the night when you open Word to finish that final job.
Options to choose from
But for users who want to customize the appearance of Office, Microsoft will allow customers to choose multiple appearances. These include the dark theme and the more familiar look, with a colored toolbar, which has been around for the last five years.
Microsoft seems to have dedicated a few extra pixels to the command ribbon at the top of every Office application. The title of the document, spreadsheet, or presentation is now the only thing users see in the upper left of the application window, replacing the auto-save option and customizable Quick Access Toolbar commands .
A visual version
The Quick Access Toolbar, which had allowed you to place frequently used commands at the top of your Office applications, will be disabled by default in the new version of Office. You can enable it if you want, but the commands will appear below the ribbon, rather than above it, to keep a new, cleaner look.
The new Office is just a visual overhaul, it doesn’t have a lot of new features.
Office 365 customers who sign up to be beta testers will soon be able to test the new look by enabling the “coming soon” experience. The new look will be available to customers running Windows 10 or Windows 11 on their PCs.
Because Microsoft apparently wants to confuse us, beta testers may activate the new look for four of the nine Office applications, but all nine will get the update once activated. Beta testers can activate visual review from Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or OneNote, but not from Outlook, Access, Project, Publisher, or Visio.
Even more confusing, Outlook will also get a “coming soon” button, but activating it won’t change the layout to the new look. The layout of Outlook will change if you activate it from those four applications. I got it?