Fans of the classic design will be able to expand it back to the larger ribbon if they choose.
Microsoft is overhauling the interfaces of all the Office versions to bring a much more consistent look and feel across the various platforms that the applications support. The changes are inspired by a "new culture of work" and will bring fluent design, a simplified ribbon, and search enhancements to the Office 365 experience.
The web version of Word will be the first application to receive the new update starting today, followed by Outlook for Windows for select Windows Insider users. The company is vastly reducing the size of the ribbon - the toolbar that for so many years has been loaded up with buttons. Besides this, Word in Office 2019 for Mac is also getting a Word Translator, roaming pencil case and ribbon customisations. They'll first make an appearance on the web version of Word, and they'll make their way to Works, Excel and PowerPoint for Windows for Insiders later this month.
There are also features for IT that will help them simplify deployment and management.
The updates will be exclusive to Office.com and Office 365 versions of Microsoft's popular productivity software. Following on from the initial business preview of Office 2019 for Windows in April, the company has now announced that Office 2019 will be available as a preview for Mac machines with immediate effect. This is clearly the case on the Office.com landing page, where the app buttons use shadow and depth to highlight what's under the mouse, but I didn't see any Fluent influence in screenshots and videos of the actual program windows, aside from animations that happen when you hover the mouse over top menus. Microsoft calls this "zero query search" and notes that the recommendations are powered by artificial intelligence and Microsoft Graph. It comes with new features across Office apps like Powerpoint and Word. This feature is already available for commercial users in Office.com, SharePoint Online, and the Outlook mobile.
Finally, there's a greater emphasis on search: the new search box will show suggestions for people, events, and documents automatically, based on what you've been working on and who you've been collaborating with, before you even type any search terms.
The ribbon bar icons have also been updated to use less color and more detail so that they are not distracting and offer a cleaner look.