Microsoft morphs Office 365 UI into Windows Mobile Start menu clone

Corporate customers can move, resize, pin tiles in the revamped App Launcher.

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Microsoft today outlined a new Windows 10-like interface for corporate users of Office 365, the software-by-subscription program.

The new look will reach employees of firms that have registered with the Office 365 First Release track later this month. Others will begin to get the changed user interface (UI) in October as Microsoft rolls it out in stages.

"We're announcing a new version of the Office 365 App Launcher, which will provide improved discoverability to new and recently-used apps, additional customization options and search across all the services and applications you use in the Microsoft Cloud," Microsoft said in a post to a company blog Wednesday.

As its name implies, the Office 365 App Launcher lets users fire up various Office 365 applications and services. Currently, the launcher -- which is revealed with a click on a symbol at the upper left of each user's Office 365 web page -- is a square grid of identically-sized icons.

The new UI will resemble the Windows 10 Start menu, in that the app or service icons -- Microsoft dubs them "tiles" -- can be moved, resized and pinned in place. Also, company-specific apps added by IT will no longer be sequestered to a secondary screen; their tiles will be put front and center if desired.

At some future point, Microsoft plans to add access to recently-retrieved documents to the App Launcher.

Only customers provided with Exchange as part of their Office 365 plan will see the new UI, Microsoft said. At launch, company administrators will not be able to specify a firm-wide structure for the Start-style launcher, but Microsoft said that it is "working to enable greater control for Office 365 administrators."

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Microsoft plans to Windows 10-ify the Office 365 App Launcher, letting users craft a Start menu look-a-like to navigate through the subscription's apps and services.

This story, "Microsoft morphs Office 365 UI into Windows Mobile Start menu clone" was originally published by Computerworld.

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