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It has been a long time since Microsoft Office saw any real branding or design updates. Well, after five years, Office icons are finally getting an overhaul.

These changes coincide with significant changes to the Office suite, where Microsoft are transforming their programs into a collaborative platform that lets users work together in real-time, from almost any device.

Microsoft announced this month that they are also looking to integrate cutting edge features such as artificial intelligence (Ai) which will allow users to gather useful insights with less effort. This includes the ability to simply dictate a paper or build a CV directly through LinkedIn.

However, it is the new icons that seem to be getting all of the limelight. Microsoft describes the inspiration behind the new look: “The carefully crafted designs honour heritage and welcome the future”.

The icons will bring a different set of colours with “bolder, lighter and friendlier” hues and will also visually describe what each app does for the user. Excel’s icon, for example, is a rectangle that mimics a spreadsheet’s cell and the PowerPoint icon is round – to reflect a pie chart.

Microsoft go on to say that “Simplicity and harmony are key visual elements that reflect the seamless connectivity and intuitiveness of Office apps. While each icon has a unique and identifiable symbol, there are connections within each app’s symbol and the collective suite.”

The new icons may also vary in appearance depending on which platform you use. Microsoft want to decouple the letter and the symbol in the icons which will create two panels and different icons for the same app. Their goal is to maintain familiarity while still emphasising simplicity inside the app.

So when will these new icons roll out?

Microsoft have been quite vague saying “in the coming months”, with a priority on web and mobile. For more information, you can watch their YouTube announcement video here.

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