Microsoft talks about the future of the design and experience of its productivity apps

Microsoft has published a new post on Medium providing a glimpse of the design language and user experience improvements that the company aims to bring to its Microsoft 365 productivity suite. The post is a lengthy one where the company talks about everything from the impact of the global pandemic on design decisions to the cohesiveness of the Redmond giant’s offerings across platforms.

However, the company teases a few design improvements that could be making it to its various productivity apps across both mobile and desktop platforms. Jon Friedman, Head of Microsoft Office design says in the post that the “ecosystem increasingly decouples app capabilities from the apps themselves, leaving you free to use functionality whenever, however, and wherever you need it”.

One of the UX changes that the firm intends to bring to the apps includes removing the brand colors form the app headers and making commands adaptive. The video teases completely seamless headers with even the close, minimize, and maximize icons hidden from view. The post also talks about single-line ribbon, Fluent Design, and Dark mode. While some of these elements, such as dark mode, have been implemented across the suite of apps, the firm is yet to bring elements like the single-line ribbon to more apps.

The Redmond company also talks about AI enhancements, such as Project Cortex and Cortana’s AI-based insights on Outlook or the error handling capabilities of Excel. The firm also boasts of the integrations in Teams and the cohesiveness of the Microsoft 365 ecosystem. Additionally, Friedman says that the firm is focused on designing for “more authentic and inclusive connections between people” that includes using “artful themes and backgrounds to exploratory UX”.

Friedman adds that some of the features and UX improvements will “roll out within a year or two”, and others are more exploratory. It will be interesting to see how the company takes forward the overall design language, and how much of these elements make it to the apps on various platforms.

While the post deals mostly with the Microsoft 365 suite of apps, Windows 10 is critiqued for having an inconsistent design in the various elements of the OS. With Windows 10X reportedly slated for 2021, it will be interesting to see how the company aligns its overall design efforts. Glimpses of a design refresh have already begun showing up in the latest Insider builds.

For those that like Microsoft’s design video, the firm has created a new one for the post, which as always is great to look at. You can find the video in the post here.

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