This is kind of a weird update for Microsoft to update the product first and then refresh the icons later on to let people know that the service has been changing throughout the years. Which is why we see so many companies keep their app icons look the same year after year, to ensure it remains instantly recognisable to their customers - something which makes Microsoft new announcement of a complete redesign of their icons for the popular Microsoft office applications so interesting.
The main idea behind the new design is separating the letter and the symbol in the icons, which allowed Microsoft to maintain familiarity and simplicity of the app.
The changes hint at some of the coming changes to the Microsoft Office productivity suite.
The head design for Microsoft Office, John Friedman, explained the design philosophy of Microsoft office by emphasizing the core focus of their design language which has always been strong colors, he further highlighted the Color differentiates apps and creates personality. The company is simplifying the Ribbon and bringing in its Fluent Design from Windows 10 to the apps. Despite that, these new icons look familiar and are easy to identify.
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Microsoft says these icons have been redesigned to be more simple and look modern across devices and platforms.
How the icon for Microsoft Word has changed over time since 2003.
Each icon has symbols that are unique and denotes a connection with the collective suite. Friedman also mentioned that traditionally the letter occupied two-thirds of the icon while the symbol took one-third.
The update affects multiple platforms: Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. The mobile version of Outlook, for example, is getting shared mailbox support and new gestures for accounts and folders. The new icon will no longer contain the blue metal holder.