Microsoft appears to be planning on overhauling its Windows 10 icons alongside its Office suite. The software company revealed a new icon design for Office 365 earlier this week, and with it teased some Windows changes it has been considering. “It is a huge undertaking to build a common system and design 10 icons at the same time,” explains Jon Friedman, head of Office design at Microsoft. “Now that we have established the system we will start to scale it across all of Microsoft.”
The Office apps icons are easily recognizable across platforms, especially if you’ve been a long-time user. The last time Microsoft updated them was five years ago, but a refresh is due. This time, Microsoft is going for simplicity with its new icon designs, as well as a focus on collaboration. The icons still maintain their personality, and you’ll quickly be able to recognize Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps in any list of computer or mobile applications. The letters that Microsoft uses for its Office apps are still there, but the background has been changed to simpler geometric shapes associated with the apps.
Microsoft’s goal here is to focus on the content rather than a specific format and highlight the collaborative nature of Office apps. That’s why the Word app loses the document outline in favor of shapes that suggest lines of text. Similar changes affect the Excel and PowerPoint icons.
“Our design solution was to de-couple the letter and the symbol from the icons, essentially creating two panels (one for the letter and one for the symbol) that we can pair or separate,” says Microsoft’s Jon Friedman. “This allows us to maintain familiarity while still emphasizing simplicity when inside the app.”
Icon design updates are also coming to other apps, including OneDrive, Outlook Mobile, and Skype. The new icons will be rolled out to users in the coming months, starting with mobile and web apps.